Long distance pioneers LDRTA shaped Australian trucking industry

By: Tamara Whitsed, Photography by: Tamara Whitsed

The Long Distance Road Transport Association (LDRTA) played a central role in Australia’s trucking history.  

Long distance pioneers LDRTA shaped Australian trucking industry
Geoff Rudd was elected to the LDRTA committee in 1972 and retired from the NatRoad board in 2003.


In the middle of the 20th century the Long Distance Road Transport Association (LDRTA) was a force to be reckoned with.

It was born in 1948 at a Sydney gathering of disgruntled hauliers who were fed up with crippling taxes designed to protect the rail freight monopoly.

Many of association’s first members were returned servicemen who had invested their deferred pay in ex-military trucks and wanted to cart freight long distance.

The governments saw the LDRTA as mob of rebellious upstarts.  But the association had strong support from regional communities in the eastern states who stood to benefit from affordable long distance road transport.

With Vince Rowe at the helm, the association’s primary goal was to exclude interstate haulage from New South Wales’ three-pence-per-ton-per-mile Co-ordination Tax. After a long and expensive legal battle, this was achieved in 1954.

The LDRTA placed itself in the midst of negotiations on any matter that might impact its members, including industrial relations, truck speeds, axle weights and the price of tyres.

From the mid-1960s the LDRTA Loading Pool provided a much needed service at Sydney Haulage Terminal.

By the mid-1980s the association was losing momentum and a Victorian-based group, the National Transport Federation (NTF), began competing for members. A rivalry developed between the two organisations.

But in 1994 they accepted they were fighting for the same cause and merged to form Australia’s largest transport body, the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad).

In the March issue of Owner//Driver Geoff Rudd shares his memories of joining the LDRTA board in the early 1970s, Sam Sali recalls NTF’s formation and achievements and Denis Robertson reveals the secret meeting with Ted Pickering which led to the merger.

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