Policy around the trucking industry is often defined by a lack of real data being used to create rules and regulations which will aid the productivity of the trucking industry and hence the productivity of the country of Australia. two reports published this year by Deloitte Access Economics aim to address that problem.
The trucking industry is often an invisible factor in how the economy is performing, economically. In all of the commentary around Australia’s economic performance there is always plenty of discussion about major indices associated with agriculture, resources etc, but one of the major factors in productivity in those industries is getting each industry’s inputs to it’s locations efficiently and getting its products to global customers efficiently.
Deloitte has produced two separate reports this year, which can be used by the trucking industry to demonstrate its value to the overall economy and more specifically to the rural economy on which so much of the Australian economy still depends.
The first, which came out early this year was called ‘Economic Benefits of Improved Regulation in the Australian Trucking Industry’ had been commissioned by the Australian Trucking Association.
When we are talking about the way the economy is travelling, the freight component is a factor in just about every major industry on which this economy depends. The importance of the road freight industry to the overall economy is pointed out in the Economic Benefits report.
It is pointed out that even though Australia’s economy is the 13th largest in the world, its freight task is the fifth largest in the world. This makes road freight and its cost implications proportionally more important within our economy than it is within the economy of many of our competitors. The numbers here illustrate Australia’s ‘tyranny of distance’.
Australia’s economy will continue to grow, according to most forecasts, due to improved GDP and increasing population. The National Transport Commission has calculated that freight will grow by 26 per cent by 2026 to an estimated and unprecedented, 915 billion tonne-kilometres.
As anyone involved with the Australian trucking industry will know, it will be road transport which will bear the brunt of this growth, as the current infrastructure means, in most cases, the only effective mode with which to transport freight is on the back of the truck.
“Meeting the impending freight task will, however, require that the right policies are in place,” says the Deloitte Report. “For road, the policy imperative comes down to enabling the industry to use the most efficient vehicles for completing the door-to-door task at which road excels.”
This issue is not a new one, rapid freight growth throughout the last decade of the 20th century and the first two decades the 21st century has put an enormous pressure on infrastructure and industry. Productivity increases to cope with the increased freight task were achieved by making structural changes within industry in order for tasks to be completed.
One of the major factors which enabled the industry to increase its productivity so effectively was the introduction, and then national adoption, of the B-double combination in this period. With higher masses and higher volumes being made available in each individual truck, productivity boomed.
On the evidence of this latest report, it reckons it will be necessary to come up with a similar quantum leap in productivity for the trucking industry to be able to cope with the expected increased freight task. Deloitte were tasked with outlining the kinds of regulatory and policy changes which will be needed in order to make this improved productivity possible.
According to the report, some of the changes it proposes could have a dramatic fact on the Australian economy. It talks about a $13.6 billion saving in vehicle operating costs over the next thirty years leading to annual benefits for a number of other industries associated with road transport. The benefit for wholesale trade is expected to be around $80 million dollars a year, for construction and $70 million, retail gets $40 million, house construction $30 million dollars and $30 million for meat processing.