Industry Facts

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icon Road freight
  • 2020-21 road freight volume totalled 230.1 billion tonne kilometres.
  • 177.7 billion tonne kilometres was completed by articulated trucks.
  • Road freight volumes are projected to grow by around 56% between 2018 and 2040 (average annual growth of 2% per annum)
icon Rail freight
  • Rail freight contributed $5.28 billion to the economy in 2019.
  • Freight rail is estimated to directly employ 21,146 FTE workers in Australia in 2019, a more than 50% increase since 2016. Importantly, 56% of these jobs are located outside capital city regions with significant clusters in Rockhampton, Newcastle, Mackay and Gladstone.
  • The mining industry is the largest user of freight rail, spending $1.5 billion on rail transport. The metal manufacturing industries together spent a further $500 million, while the wholesale and retail trade industry spent $570 million. Agricultural industries spent $87 million on freight rail. (Source: Australia Railway Association)
icon Inland Rail
  • Inland Rail will inject more than $18 billion into Australia’s GDP during construction and its first 50 years of operation.
  • Inland Rail will support more than 21,500 direct and indirect jobs during its construction.
  • With Inland Rail, the rail distance between Melbourne and Brisbane is reduced by 200km and the distance between Brisbane and Perth and Brisbane and Adelaide is reduced by 500km.
  • 26% of inter-capital freight— that’s the hardware, steel, groceries, and other consumer goods that travel between our major ports and capital cities before being distributed to retailers—currently moves between Melbourne and Brisbane via the rail network. By 2049-50, this would shift to 62% using rail.
icon Air freight
  • In Australia, air freight is generally low volume but high value; recent years have seen a trade volume of around 1.2 million metric tons with a trade value of approximately 110 billion Australian dollars. (Source: Air freight in Australia - statistics & facts)
  • Domestic air freight volumes are projected to grow by around 17 per cent between 2018 and 2040 from 337 million tonne kilometres in 2018 to around 393 million tonne kilometres in 2040. (Source: BITRE aggregate freight forecasts – 2019 update)
icon Sea Freight

Data from BITRE Australian sea freight 2020–21

  • The weight of maritime exports in 2020– 21 was 1516.1 million tonnes, valued at $354.8 billion.
  • Australia imported 97.1 million tonnes of goods worth $246.6 billion by sea in 2020–21.
  • Australian sea freight is heavily focused on exports – in 2020–21 exports made up 88.7% of the sea freight handled in Australia by tonnage. Imports made up 5.7% of total sea freight handled with coastal freight handled (domestic freight is handled twice in Australia) making up 5.6%.
  • Coastal shipping freight comprises 6.3% volume that moves through Australia’s ports, with the remainder being international freight (103.8/1,653.2 million tonnes - Source: BITRE Australian sea freight 2018-19)
icon Employment data
  • Transport, Postal and Warehousing employs approximately 694,900 persons, which accounts for 5.1 percent of the total workforce.
Employment CharacteristicsData
Total Employment– May 2022694,900
Workforce Share – May 20225.10%
Full Time Share of Employment - May 202279.60%
Projected Employment Growth - Five Years to November 202547,300


Top Employing OccupationsEmployment (all industries)Employment (this industry)Proportion employed in this industry
Truck Drivers170,300102,40060%
Automobile Drivers48,50046,60096%
Bus and Coach Drivers47,40040,70086%
Couriers and Postal Deliverers44,30037,10084%
Delivery Drivers79,00036,40046%
Forklift Drivers63,90024,70039%
Transport and Despatch Clerks37,50020,80055%
Supply, Distribution and Procurement Managers44,50015,70035%
Mail Sorters17,10015,60091%

(Source: Labour Market Information Portal)

icon E-commerce
  • 9M households made online purchases in the 2020-21 financial year, which is 82% of all households.
  • Australians ordered over 1 billion parcels during 2020.
  • Australians spent $50.46 billion online in 2020, up from $32.1 billion in 2019. It accounts for 16.3% of retail spend (excluding cafés, restaurants and takeaway food) and is projected to increase to 40% in 2026. (Source: Australia Post – eCommerce Industry Report)
  • For every $1 billion increase in online sales, this generates approximately 85,000 sqm of demand for warehouse space. With online retail sales expected to grow by around $31 billion over the next five years, demand of 520,000 sqm per annum from online retail groups alone is expected to be required over the period. (Source: Supply chains by the numbers #2)
icon Infrastructure
  • In 2020–21, 55% of the value of major infrastructure construction done was in the transport sector.
  • $18.8 billion of $29.2 billion (64.4%) was spent on roads, highways and bridges.
  • Australia has over 381,185 kilometres of paved roads and a total road length of over 874,000 kilometres.
  • Distance travelled by road vehicles in 2020-21 was 249.19 billion kilometres.
  • There were 32,868 route kilometres of open railway as at September 2020.
icon Sustainability
  • The transport sector is the second largest source of emissions in the Australian economy, and emissions are growing fast. In 2017 transport represented 18% of total emissions and has increased by 57% since 1990. By 2030, transport emissions are projected to be 82% higher than 1990.
  • Automotive diesel usage has been steadily increasing annually since the mid-nineties and totalled 30.2 gigalitres in 2020-21.
  • Cars currently represent the largest source of transport emissions at just over 50% of the direct greenhouse gas emissions from road transport.
  • Light commercial vehicles, trucks, and buses make up over 47% of transport greenhouse gas emissions.