Urgent action needed on closures and delays, say freight bosses

Ongoing closures within Australia’s freight network have prompted industry leaders to call for a national meeting to address the increasing number of trans-national freight disruptions.

The bosses of the WA and NT peak trucking bodies say it’s imperative that Canberra does more to help, including the development of an “effective” National Freight Supply Chain (NFSC) strategy.

Both jurisdictions have been smashed by floods and bushfires in recent months leading to multiple road and rail closures.

“Enough is enough. Here we are in a post-Covid operating environment yet we are experiencing ongoing disruptions caused by failing infrastructure,” said Cam Dumesny, CEO of the Western Roads Federation.

“How many freight disruptions do you need to have before there’s some national leadership on the issue?

“The feds are missing in action, completely missing in action, and these are trans-national freight routes.”

NT Road Transport Association executive officer Louise Bilato said a national meeting could identify specific actions and accountability measures that can be implemented in the absence of a national freight resilience plan.

“Ignoring major freight disruptions comes at considerable cost to Australian businesses and the wider community,” Bilato said.

“Australia’s freight network requires a coordinated and comprehensive approach, one that takes into account all freight systems,

“We need to shift the dial, and move from a ‘just in time’ to a ‘just in case’ mindset – it is imperative we act now as the number of trans-national freight disruptions continue to rise.”

Bilato said that without an efficient and reliable freight network, the country comes to a standstill.

“We are sounding the alarm and calling for urgent action. It is time for a coordinated approach to address the growing freight disruptions and to develop a comprehensive national freight resilience plan.”

The office of Catherine King, the federal minister for infrastructure and transport, didn’t answer Big Rigs’ question about whether it was doing enough to help, instead focusing on the ongoing review of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.

“The Australian Government acknowledges that our freight and supply chain network is critical to the national economy, businesses and communities,” a department spokesperson said in response to emailed questions.

“That is why we are committed to improving efficiency and ensuring safe, secure and resilient freight systems and supply chains by progressing the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.”

The spokesperson said the strategy, finalised in 2019, includes over 300 initiatives being delivered by all levels of government.

“Australian freight and supply chains looked very different then to the way they do today due to unprecedented and compounding disruptions including a global pandemic, extreme weather events, geo-political tensions, skills shortages and more, which is why we brought forward the first review of the strategy to start last year – recognising an earlier review important to ensure the strategy remains fit-for-purpose,” the spokesperson added.

“The report is currently being considered by infrastructure and transport ministers. A refreshed strategy will be developed this year.”

The spokesperson said the strategy has already made significant achievements that are helping businesses get Australian produce from gate to plate more efficiently and safely, such as the establishment of the Supply Chain Benchmarking Dashboard as well as the National Location Registry.

“We look forward to building on these achievements as we continue to deliver on our commitments to ensure a safe and efficient freight and supply chain.”

Recent freight disruptions in WA and NT

Perth to Darwin: Distance 3700km | Only detour 4700km

●  Jan 2023 flooding destroyed the Fitzroy Crossing bridge, December 2023 New Bridge

●  January to March 2024 – multiple closures due to flooding in NT

●  Repeated closures every year due to flooding

Perth to Adelaide: Distance 2700km | Only detour 6300km

●  Jan 2020 – Bushfires closed Eyre Hwy for 12 days

●  Jan 2022 – Rail closed 3 weeks due to flooding

●  Nov 2022 – Rail closed due to NSW floods and Victorian incident

●  Feb 2024 – Bushfires closed Eyre Hwy

●  Mar 2024 – Floods close Rail (on-going) and Eyre Hwy

Adelaide to Darwin: Distance 3000km | Shortest detour 5700km

●  Jan 2022 – Rail and Road links closed for month

●  Jan 2023 – Road closed floods

●  Oct 2023 – Road closed Bushfire closures

●  Jan 2024 – Rail closed two weeks floods

Brisbane to Darwin: Distance 3400km | Detour 4700km

●  Sep to Oct 2023 – repeated closures due to bushfires

●  Feb 2024 – Road closure flooding ex Tropical Cyclone Lincoln

For more on this issue, make sure you grab your free copy of the March 29 edition of Big Rigs from the usual outlet.


  1. The problems of roads being washed away can be attributed to flood water undermining the bitumen as seen in the photo shown .
    In 1976 the Qld Boulia Shire council put down a new strip of bitumen heading east towards Winton and both sides of the road they dug a narrow trench and filled it with concrete to the level of the road so that flowing flood water could not undermine the bitumen surface and it’s foundation instead the water just flows over the road surface saving them a fortune not having to rebuild the road again .

  2. All sounds like a grand plan to ensure that railways are the best strategy moving forward… or to move people on so the land can be sold to a very interested party…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend