Road transport earning more, working harder

Workers in the road transport sector are prosperous and working harder than ever before, according to new statistics

By Brad Gardner

Workers in the road transport sector are prosperous and working harder than ever before, according to the latest statistics from the Federal Government.

The 2009 Australian Transport Statistics Yearbook shows an almost $150 increase in the average wage of transport and storage workers from 2004 to 2006, claiming weekly earnings are now $920.80 compared to $786.50 in 2004.

Published by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government (BITRE) the yearbook collates data up to the 2007-2008 financial year on all transport modes.

According to the findings, the trucking sector racked up more than 15 billion kilometres last financial year, with rigid trucks travelling 8.7 billion kilometres, as opposed to articulated trucks at 6.9 billion kilometres.

The latest figures also show the total bulk and non-bulk road freight carried increased to 2.14 billion tonnes in 2006-2007, an increase of 302 million tonnes based on the previous year’s figures.

In releasing the yearbook today, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese jumped on figures showing a decline in transport infrastructure investment under the previous government.

"The latest Transport Statistics Yearbook reveals the average annual road spend during the Howard Government’s last six years was just $2.7 billion," Albanese says.

"By contrast, we will invest an average of $4.7 billion a year over six years—an increase of more than 70 percent."

There was, however, a considerable jump in road expenditure in the 2005-2006 period, with the previous government raising funding from $2.295 billion to $4.34 billion before cutting spending to $2.77 billion the following year.

There has also been a rise in road spending at a state and territory level, with combined investment from all jurisdictions increasing from $2.68 billion in 2005-2006 to $6.11 billion the following financial year.

The yearbook shows road transport continues to be a key economic driver, with the sector making up 4.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or $17.98 billion.

The transport and storage sector’s share of total employment is 4.7 percent, with the road transport sector alone employing more than 246,000 employees in 2008.

Despite the good economic news, however, the road sector continues to have the highest fatality rate, recording 1,616 deaths in 2007.

Although fatalities in the sector have declined considerably, the 2007 figure represents an increase of 18 deaths based on the 2006 figure of 1, 598.

The accident rate also climbed from 1,453 in 2006 to 1,466 in 2007.

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