The Road Freight Transport industry in Australia is a $47 billion market that employs over 135,000 Australians every year. By transporting goods from door to door across state borders, the Road Transport industry competes directly with the rail, water and air freight sectors through competitive pricing, convenience and reliability. From 2015-2020, the average industry growth declined by 1%, however pre-Covid-19, predictions anticipated that the Road Transport industry would grow considerably up until 2025.

Impacts of Covid-19 on Road Transport

Covid-19 has significantly impacted the Road Transport industry with the introduction of essential worker classifications and significant changes to border crossings. IBISWorld reported in its May analysis that revenue for the sector will likely decrease by 8.4%, as total market import and export demand declines due to Covid restrictions.

Also, each Australian state has introduced different Covid restrictions for road freight. A recent example is the South Australian (SA) government’s declaration that as of May 11, anyone crossing the SA border to required keep a record of close contacts for 14 days. And many businesses have also felt the direct impacts on staffing as self-isolation increased. These process changes, plus decreases to cashflow, has made finding a balance between reduced operations and staffing critical for the sector.

The federal government has worked closely with the industry to provide support. One such agreement is the freeze on the Heavy Vehicle User Charge, which will remain at 25.8 cents per litre for diesel, instead of increase by the previously agreed 2.5% over two years. The introduction of the JobKeeper supplement has also enabled many businesses to keep staff employed and trucks on the road.

Furthermore, NatRoad and NHVR have collaborated to develop an app that makes it easier to find resting places during Covid-19. This application allows drivers to see at a glance which facilities are still operational, and to plan their routes accordingly. Further recommendations and assistance for the transport industry during Covid-19 have also been made available.

Positive news stories

Thank you for keeping Australia moving!

In recognition and thanks of the truck drivers, warehouse personnel, transport boilermaker and every worker who have kept Australia moving, five short thank you poems have been written.

The thank you poems are a collaboration between Australia’s leading transport and logistics insurer NTI and legendary poet Rupert McCall. Each poem will be aired on the radio, displayed on billboards and is available to listen to online.

Top Cop praises industry efforts

Queensland Assistant Police Commissioner Mike Condon had found the right balance between enabling truck drivers to travel and rest appropriately while upholding lockdown directives.

Road Transport Modern Award changes

Recent changes made to the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2020 and the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2020 have increased readability and use the same language as other Modern Awards.

The key changes include:

  • Alignment of the job descriptions across both Awards,
  • Removal of sections of the domestic violence leave clause as this is covered by the new family and domestic violence clauses in the Fair Work Act (2009),
  • Changes to include percentage rates instead of the terms such as “double time” and “time and a half”,
  • Introduction of a Schedule of the Hourly Rates of pay,
  • Inclusion of a Summary of Monetary Allowances.

Although there were no wage increases in the Awards, the changes are applicable from May 4, 2020, and TRS Resourcing recommends all employers should review the following arrangements to ensure the terms of the Awards are met including:

  • Employment letter templates
  • Wage rate sheets
  • Payroll records


Two methods to save money and keep jobs during Covid-19

To keep people employed and freight on the road, being efficient and saving every dollar counts. Although short-haul and linehaul cost structures vary due to the different fleet and sector needs, fuel and staffing costs are the largest expenditure items for the Road Transport industry.

1.     Increasing fuel efficiencies

The Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has outlined twelve opportunities for Road Transport businesses to save money during Covid:

  1. Improve drive practices – for up to 30% increase in fuel economy
  2. Compile and analyse fuel data – assess individual vehicle, driving and route fuel efficiency
  3. Plan routes and consolidate loads – reduce travel distance and improve utilisation
  4. Collaborate with suppliers to minimise packaging – improve vehicle loading efficiency
  5. Apply fit-for-purpose procurement practices – new vehicle designs realise fuel improvements up to 50%
  6. Implement turning and preventative maintenance – for fuel and emissions savings up to 5%
  7. Review highway average speed policy – a 10km speed reduction not only reduces fuel consumption by 10% but also lowers driver stress, tyre wear and accident risk
  8. Improve aerodynamics – through type performance, light-weighting and improvements
  9. Use efficient ancillary equipment – changing to LED lights, better air conditioners and efficient alternators all improve fuel economy
  10. Optimise gear settings – to use the engine’s torque more efficiently
  11. Reduce mass – a 5-10% fuel saving can be made by removing 10% of the weight
  12. Invest in alternative drivetrain engine technologies – to recover up to 70% of fuel from energy loss

2.     Reducing staff hiring costs

Labour hire agencies are a fast and cost-effective way to find new staff in volatile market situations such as Covid-19. TRS Resourcing has sourced staff for the Road Freight Transport industry, including Tieman and LiquipVictoria, for over 15 years. As nationally accredited recruiters with NPAWorldwide and a StaffSure Certification, TRS is one of Australia’s top labour hire companies and can remove the stress and excessive cost of hiring permanent or temporary skill labour for any business.

Our best practice recruiting methods and industry connections mean that TRS can find technical blue collar workers with specific skills from across Australia. All of the staff TRS provide are ready to work immediately, are up to date with safety and WHS training, and hold appropriate licences and qualifications.

Just some of the roles TRS has recently helped the Road Transport industry to source include:

  • Boilermakers – fuel tanker trailers/repairs
  • Welders
  • Heavy duty mechanics
  • Fabricators
  • Diesel mechanics
  • HD fitters
  • Aluminium polishers
  • Commercial spray painters
  • Forklift mechanic

Can TRS help?

Clients: For temporary and permanent staffing solutions for the Road Freight Transport industry, contact us for recruitment online or call us on 03 9349 2726 to fill outstanding positions today.

Job seekers: If you have worked or are job seeking in the road transport industry, click here to upload your resume, search our Job Boards and sign up to our social media alerts.