9223.0 - Road Freight Movements, Australia, 12 months ended 31 October 2014 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/10/2015  First Issue
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Freight is moved long distances by road in Australia, because of the size of the country as well as the many and diverse locations of its agricultural, mining, production and population centres.

The Road Freight Movements Survey provides statistics about the size and characteristics of the road freight task (articulated and rigid trucks only), including flows between geographic areas. This statistical information will assist in the development of transport policies and the efficient allocation of related resources.


Tonne-kilometres is a key indicator for measuring the volume of the freight transport task, representing mass moved over distance. The calculation of tonne-kilometres is detailed in the Glossary.

In the 12 months ended 31 October 2014, the road transport network in Australia accounted for an estimated total of 195,619 million tonne-kilometres and moved a total of 2,132 million tonnes of freight.


Of the total tonne-kilometres travelled on roads by articulated and rigid trucks in Australia, the highest proportion 25.9% (50,632 million) originated in New South Wales, followed by Queensland 22.8% (44,663 million), Victoria 20.2% (39,612 million) and Western Australia (WA) 18.2% (35,617 million).

The proportions of tonnes carried from these four states were similar to the proportions noted above for tonne-kilometres travelled, with freight originating from NSW representing 25.3% (539 million) of the total tonnes carried, Queensland 23.4% (500 million), Victoria 22.5% (480 million) and Western Australia 17.5% (374 million).

Graph Image for PROPORTION OF TONNES CARRIED AND TONNE-KILOMETRES TRAVELLED, State and Territory of Origin - Year ended 31 October 2014

Intrastate Movements

Of the total tonne-kilometres travelled, 68.0% (133,002 million) were for movements where the origin and the destination of the freight was within the same state/territory (i.e. intrastate). Western Australia had the highest tonne-kilometres for intrastate road freight movements (33,746 million).

In contrast to total tonne-kilometres travelled, 95.7% (2,040 million) of total tonnes carried were intrastate. In all states and territories, at least 88.5% of tonnes carried for road freight movements were within the same state or territory.

Interstate Movements

Of the total tonne-kilometres travelled, 32.0% (62,617 million) were for interstate freight movements. For each state and territory (except Qld, WA and Tas), close to half of the total tonne-kilometres travelled were for freight moving interstate.

For all states and territories of origin, less than 11.5% of the total tonnes carried were for interstate freight movements. The higher percentage for tonne-kilometres is due to the higher number of kilometres travelled in interstate trips.

Graph Image for TOTAL TONNE-KILOMETRES TRAVELLED, Intrastate and Interstate by State and Territory of Origin - Year ended 31 October 2014


Of the total tonne-kilometres travelled, (87.3%) were for freight destined for New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia. Similarly, the same four states were the destination for 88.7% of the total tonnes carried.

The high percentages of total tonne-kilometres travelled reflect the heavy use of the eastern Australia road network. Freight destined for New South Wales accounted for 25.9% (50,571 million) of the total tonne-kilometres by road, Queensland 23.7% (46,314 million) and Victoria 19.3% (37,670 million). Western Australia accounted for 18.5% (36,243 million).

Due principally to its location within NSW and its size, tonne-kilometres travelled for the road freight movements from New South Wales to ACT (538 million) exceeded intrastate movements (212 million) for Australian Capital Territory.

Graph Image for TOTAL TONNE-KILOMETRES TRAVELLED, State and Territory of Origin and Destination - Year ended 31 October 2014


General freight was the major commodity moved by road in Australia, accounting for 22.4% (43,759 million) of all tonne-kilometres travelled. Food (animal or human consumption) was the next highest contributor with 15.6% (30,544 million) followed by Sand, stone and gravel with 9.5% (18,614 million).

Excluding General freight, Food (animal or human consumption) was the major commodity moved for all states and territories except WA, which travelled 8,770 million tonne-kilometres of metalliferous ores and metal scrap, and in the ACT where 130 million tonne-kilometres of Sand, stone and gravel were delivered.

Without exception, for tonnes carried, Sand, stone and gravel was the most common commodity moved across all states and territories making up approximately 23% (493 million) of the total tonnes moved across Australia.

Graph Image for PROPORTION OF TONNES CARRIED AND TONNE-KILOMETRES TRAVELLED, Selected commodity - Year ended 31 October 2014

Annotation(s): (a) Includes food for animal or human consumption.; (b) Consignments not classified by commodity.

Source(s): Road Freight Movements Data Cubes, Australia


This publication presents results from the Road Freight Movements Survey and provides estimates of freight moved by road for the period 1 November 2013 to 31 October 2014. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) wishes to acknowledge the Commonwealth and each of the State and Territory Transport Departments for their funding contributions, which assisted in the conduct of this survey.

The statistics for the collection were based on a sample survey of articulated and rigid vehicles that were registered with an Australian motor vehicle registry during the collection period. Other vehicles were excluded from the scope of the survey and are detailed in the Explanatory Notes. Respondents were asked to provide information about their vehicle configuration, load carried and origin-destination for all trips undertaken within a randomly allocated reference week.


The statistics relating to the road freight moved in this publication are the first results produced using a new survey methodology. The methodology was developed to improve upon previous efforts by the ABS to collect and compile accurate statistics on the movement of freight by road in Australia. The change to the methodology means that direct comparisons should not be made between statistics in Road Freight Movements, Australia and those from previous surveys.

Care should be taken when comparing data with other publications as estimates may be subject to high sampling error. As a result differences may not be statistically significant.

Additional information about the reliability and quality of the estimates is provided in the Technical Note.


For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.