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Infrastructure and Transport – Speed Cameras

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 6 June 2023

Tags: Roads, Community Safety, Infrastructure, Transport, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, can you confirm that the Department of State Growth owns the mobile speed cameras that we see popping up all over roads?

Mr FERGUSON - Owns them? The Government does not own them. They are owned by our contract service provider, Sensys Gatso. It is a managed service.

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay. But the Department of State Growth has contracted a private company to put mobile speed cameras at various locations around the state. We are interested to understand who decides where they are sited and what the criteria is for their siting.

Mr FERGUSON - Absolutely, thank you for asking.

Ms O'CONNOR - We have had some chats with the people in Tasmania Police, who have some issues with the siting.

Mr FERGUSON - If Tas Police can add some further value, they would absolutely be part of the solution.

Ms O'CONNOR - There is a view that this is a revenue-hooking exercise rather than a safety exercise.

Mr FERGUSON - I might tackle that first. We have put forward a total now of $13.8 million of 100 per cent state funding, including road safety levy money with the support of the Road Safety Advisory Council. I know that council very well and the people on it. They would not be doing this if they thought that this was a revenue motive. It absolutely is not.

Ms O'CONNOR - No, the broad principle is excellent. It is about where they are located and who decides where they are located, and whether they are in road safety hot spots.

Mr FERGUSON - I might defuse the question before Mr Swain or Mr Evans answers further. I have made it clear that I do not want to know where the sites are, I don't want that list, I don't want to see it, I don't want to know. I do see them on the roads that I travel and I am pleased when I see them. Very clearly there have been criteria applied to the selection. I think I can say the number of sites, can't I? Isn't it over 400 that are in the data base?

Mr SWAIN - We are adding to it all the time.

Mr FERGUSON - There's hundreds of locations and it is being added to over time. I am happy to explore this in any level of depth as may be required. There is revenue that comes from fines and something like 25 000 people have been booked fair and square. It is a voluntary tax: don't speed, wear your seatbelt, don't touch your mobile phone. That, to me, is not a revenue indicator; it is an indicator of how much work we have yet to do to work with our community so that we all obey the law.

I will invite the deputy secretary to respond further with regard to site selection and the role of Tasmania Police on the steering committee.

Mr SWAIN - Because this was identified as the number one priority under the Road Safety Advisory Council, we stood up a dedicated steering committee that has ourselves on it with MAIB and police. That has worked out the general approach to contracting and deployment. The site selection includes consideration of crash history, road safety infrastructure and operational speeds

Mr SWAIN - (continued) The site selection includes consideration of crash history, road safety infrastructure and operational speeds. But then in practice, in the day-to-day deployment, there are a range of other things that need to be considered, including roadworks, weather conditions, site availability due to parking and camera operator, or other logistical challenges for the actual deployer, the operator of the camera. We've been mindful of the safety of the people who are placing the cameras. We've got some arrangements in place just to ensure that there's no safety risk to deployment in high speed environments.

Martin may be able to talk to this with more authority than me but the idea is a randomised deployment of those cameras. This is an anywhere, any time concept. There's a mixture of covert and overt deployment across the cameras. The perception we're trying to create by getting those hundreds of sites, which we're now adding to all over the state, is that the cameras could be anywhere, any time.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thanks, Mr Swain. You talked about the criteria that are applied to site selection. When Tas Police has a speed camera detection operation, those are located in areas where there's an identified road safety risk. We've had concerns expressed to us that these cameras are being located in areas that generate maximum revenue, rather than road safety risk spots.

Mr SWAIN - We have been very explicit all the way through the development of the methodology that this is not about fine maximisation. There is no hypothecation at the moment from the fine revenue. There is an allocation to this activity but we don't get to keep all the revenue that is collected, so we don't have an incentive to maximise fine revenue -

Ms O'CONNOR - So where does that go?

Mr SWAIN - It goes into the public account but then we have a specific allocation. We don't get to just keep all the fine revenue that is generated. The reason the Road Safety Advisory Council (RSAC) got very interested in this issue was we had some data that suggested through COVID 19 the average speed on the network had been creeping up. We absolutely understand, talking to police, that they need to have operational flexibility to deploy their resources to the highest and current need over time. But the discussion in the RSAC -

Ms O'CONNOR - Such a great acronym, isn't it?

Mr SWAIN - Yes. - is that the speed and road safety needs a constant effort. Hence, we started having a conversation about, 'can we use technology more to create this network-wide perception that you're at risk anywhere, any time?'.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you. Can I ask whether any concerns have been raised by Tasmania Police about the site selections?

Mr FERGUSON - Not with me personally, I can say that. I'm just looking down the table. Feel free to respond further.

Mr SWAIN - Not through the steering committee. In fact, they have been intimately involved in determining the methodology for deployment.

Ms O'CONNOR - Can I ask how much revenue has been generated since these speed cameras came into existence and how that revenue is dispersed? And does the private operator who owns the cameras retain any part of the fine revenue?

Mr FERGUSON - I'll allow the deputy secretary to answer the last part. Is there an incentive for the service provider?

Mr SWAIN - No, it's a fixed price payment to them.

Mr FERGUSON - To answer the question, while the Government on behalf of taxpayers is putting forward $13.872 million over the forward Estimates, that includes, there's different itemised amounts if you would be interested in them in relation to speed enforcement then a separate itemised amount for mobile phone and seatbelt enforcement services.

Ms O'CONNOR - It's more the speeding one because those cameras don't pick up mobiles yet, do they?

Mr FERGUSON - They will.

Ms O'CONNOR - I know they will but they're not.

Mr FERGUSON - They do but it's currently in a sort of testing phase, a proof of concept would be the way to put that. The revenue raised would just go into the public account, as with any other infringement revenue. The amount that's been raised is $3.2 million

Ms O'CONNOR - Since those mobile cameras?

Mr FERGUSON - Since September.

Ms O'CONNOR - Since September last year - $3.2 million, and you say it's not a revenue-raising exercise?

Mr FERGUSON - Correct, I do say that.

Ms O'CONNOR - That's an extraordinary amount of money for something that's been operating for maybe nine months.

Mr FERGUSON - It is unfortunate that people are speeding and it is being picked up, 25 000 infringements. I'm not sure what your argument would be there because we haven't set out with a revenue motive, it's a road safety motive. I hope that we can drive down the number of people being caught as awareness increases that it is an anywhere, anytime approach. Early evidence is that not through the use of the actual speed cameras themselves but a different technology at about 40 locations around the state where there are speed detection devices but not for enforcement, not with cameras, are showing the average speed of vehicles travelling on our key arterials is reducing. Across the whole state network we have already seen, compared to pre-implementation, a 1.2 kilometre reduction in average vehicle speeds right across the network.

Ms O'CONNOR - Since September last year?

Mr FERGUSON - Yes, which is very significant and we hope to continue to drive it down. I'm looking at a page that shows a number of locations - I don't know if Gary would like to speak to that - but I can't see any that are heading up. I'm seeing a lot of them that are pointing downwards in terms of reduced average speeds and some of them are as high as six kilometres an hour, even one that is 9.

The revenue raised will go into the Public Account and be used for general purposes of government including services, but as I said when we launched these, I hope we raise no money because this is about making people safer. The advice I have from my department informed by the Road Safety Advisory Council is that over time, this automated traffic enforcement program is expected to reduce fatal and serious injuries by up to 10 per cent, or to express it differently, three lives saved and 27 serious injuries prevented each year. That is the motive we are embarking on. I hope people will heed the message.

Mr SWAIN - To confirm what the minister said, the data we've got is preliminary. We don't have a long enough time sequence and where we measure speed is for a variety of reasons around the networks so it's not necessarily correlated to where we've deployed cameras, but we don't have a single point that has gone up, so it's pretty interesting data so far.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you.