Trucking Industry in Australia

A Hot Tip about Transportation and Storage in Australia

Last updated: 16 Feb 2011


Road transport moves over 75 percent of the Australian freight task and is a national industry critical to economic wellbeing. The US$5 billion market for motor vehicles that transport goods is fluctuating in tandem with Australia’s growing freight demand and goods economy. Australia’s prospects for continued growth and rising prosperity depend upon the trucking industry and quality truck products, including those for pickup and works trucks; tip trucks; refrigerator trucks; panel trucks; freightliners; etc. Commercial road transport is heavily regulated, creating opportunity for suppliers of truck components that often require repair or replacing. More personal or private road transport also requires constant supply replacement, especially in a country requiring long driving hours and featuring strict road regulations. Note: As of March 25, 2010, USD$1 = AUD$1.09


Market Demand

The Australian market surrounding transport vehicles is steadily growing and now attracts manufacturer and distributor partnerships in always-changing combinations. Manufacturers pair Euro 5 or Euro 6 emission-standardized engines with older fleet trucks, or Melbourne-manufactured Caterpillar engines with Mack trucks. Volvo, Mercedes, Mack, and Navistar are among the top manufacturers creating such partnerships in Europe, the United States, and South America. Convergences of top brands now dominate the Australian trucking industry, affecting the truck supplies used in all regions of the country.


Most of Australia's 22 million people are concentrated in two widely separated coastal regions: the south-east and east; and the south-west. The south-east and east is the largest in area and population. The population within this region is concentrated in urban centers, particularly the state and territory capital cities; Sydney (New South Wales), Melbourne (Victoria), Perth (Western Australia) and Canberra (Australian Capital Territory). Australians generally reside in close proximity to the coastline because much of the land is barren.


The east coast produces over 80 percent of Australia’s freight. Because of extensive space between hub cities, freightliners must drive long distances, often through multiple states. Regulations for trucking protocols vary by state, and associations like the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) are lobbying for the federal government’s better regulation and greater investment. Each state currently manages regulations for rest area frequency, weight on roads, funding for road infrastructure, fuel charges, etc. These regulations specify which trucks must follow specific laws, and private works trucks are often exempted from regulations. Heavy vehicle licenses fall into the following class categories chosen by the Road and Traffic Authority: Road train or B-double (MC) Multi-Combination; Heavy articulated vehicle (HC) Heavy Combination; Heavy rigid truck or bus (HR) Heavy Rigid; Medium rigid truck or bus (MR) Medium Rigid; Small bus or truck (LR) Light Rigid.


Within transport by vehicle regulations, regulated work time for drivers always includes loading and unloading the vehicle; inspecting, servicing or repairing the vehicle; inspecting or attending to the load on the vehicle; attending to passengers of a bus; cleaning or refueling the vehicle; performing marketing tasks in relation to the operation of the vehicle; marketing tasks including arranging for the transport of passengers or goods as well as canvassing for orders for the transport of passengers or goods; and recording information.


All states stipulate commercial driver fatigue laws and regulations for drivers’ health and public safety. Drivers, often maneuvering heavy loads, dangerous goods, and passengers, must be healthy and unhazardous to the communities they travel through. All drivers of regulated heavy vehicles must complete work diaries logging work and rest hours.


Safety regulations for constant safety checking, repairing, and replacing of components of transport vehicles include: anti-lock braking systems (ABS), parking brake, engine/exhaust brakes or sped retarders, couplings, driving controls, electrical system, engine, exhaust system, fuel system, gear boxes, non-synchromesh gear boxes, synchromesh gear boxes, automatic gear boxes, auto-declutching systems, warning lights, flashing lights, rear marking plates, seats and seatbelts, steering wheels, suspension springs, wheels and tires, windscreens, and windows.


The National Transport Council only directly tolls heavy vehicles for their use of road systems. These charges are linked to overall heavy vehicle road use and fund government road spending. In deriving charges for heavy vehicles, the National Transport Council undertakes three steps: estimating the total cost base, estimating the portion of the base that should be apportioned to heavy vehicles, and recommending how that apportioned cost should be distributed between heavy vehicle users.


The Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) entered into force on January 1, 2005. AUSFTA is a comprehensive agreement that covers goods, services, and investment between Australia and the U.S. According to performance and racing industry contacts, the FTA has reduced barriers that previously existed.



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Posted: 17 August 2010, last updated 16 February 2011

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