Wednesday, 31 May 2017
Mr GOLDSWORTHY (Kavel) (11:50): I am pleased to speak in support of the motion moved by the member for Mitchell. It is an important motion to establish a select committee on the operation of speed cameras. The motion has five parts, but I am specifically interested in:
(b) the relationship between the location of speed cameras and the incidence of road accidents; the impact of constantly changing speed limits and the effectiveness of speed limit signage;
(c) the effectiveness and appropriateness of current penalties for speeding offences, including a review of fines imposed.
A reasonable number of constituents contact my office and come in to discuss these matters because there is a level of frustration in the community about these specific issues, particularly, as the member for Mitchell states in the motion, the constantly changing speed limits and the effectiveness of speed limit signage, particularly for constituents who travel regularly on the South Eastern Freeway. There is digital speed limit signage on the South Eastern Freeway, particularly from the tollgate up to and past the Stirling interchange, and I write to the minister from time to time about this. Constituents go through the speed camera and they receive a fine, but there does not appear to be a reason for reduction in the speed limit. I travel on the South Eastern Freeway quite regularly, and recently the speed limit on the up track came down from 100 to 80 km/h. There was no discernible reason, that I could see, that was clearly evident, for a reduction in the speed limit. There were no roadworks being undertaken, there was no broken-down vehicle on the verge, there was no heavy transport and there was no B-double transport unit broken down on the verge. I could not detect any reason for the speed limit reduction being in place. That is reflected in the representation I receive from constituents. We are all required to obey whatever the speed limit is posted at the time, but it does create some confusion, as the motion states, with constantly changing speed limits and also with the effectiveness of speed limit signage. The default limit is 50 km/h in the metropolitan area, so if it is not signposted we understand that it is 50 km/h. If you turn from a 60 km/h road onto another road and for all intents and purposes the infrastructure and the physical nature of the road indicate that it would be a 60 km/h road, you do not know until you come across the appropriate signage. You are in limbo land. You do not know whether it is 50 or 60 km/h or whatever. It is human nature that you just tootle along somewhere between those two speeds until you come to some signage that indicates what the speed is. I think a lot more work can be done in relation to the constantly changing speed limit zones and the effectiveness of speed limit signage. A constituent came in the other day raising some frustration about those particular issues, and I am in the process of writing to the minister about this. When there are roadworks, invariably the speed limit is reduced and there is signage running up to where the worksite is located. The frustration is that after you pass through those roadworks, the distance between the roadworks and where the speed limit signage restores the normal speed limit for the road is too great a distance. Sometimes, the contractors, or whoever is carrying out the works, rely on the fixed speed limit signage that is located on the road, quite a distance down from the worksite, to indicate to the motorists that they can resume the normal speed limit for that road in normal conditions. Motorists have to travel several hundred metres before they get to a fixed speed limit sign and can then commence the normal speed limit. That causes frustration because they are well past the works. Again, I have experienced that. You think, 'We are well past the works. Where is the signage to get us back up to 80 km/h or whatever the normal speed limit is?' I think that is something that the government could certainly pay attention to—as I said, last week a constituent came to see me—and I am in the process of highlighting that it in the letter to the minister, to see whether that can be addressed.
The other part of the motion talks about the relationship between speed cameras and the incidence of road accidents and so on. This is an issue that has been raised here reasonably regularly over the years. If my memory serves me correctly, quite a number of years ago—I am happy to correct the record on this—the Auditor-General in New South Wales undertook a review of the location of that state's speed cameras and the relationship with road accidents. That office brought down a report and recommended that some speed cameras be either relocated or removed. A number of speed cameras in New South Wales were removed; some were relocated to more appropriate locations where the incidence of accidents was higher, but some were removed. I have a recollection that we had a policy in the 2010 election to undertake something similar to that, but that is seven years ago, so things move on. Another aspect of this is in relation to the incidence and the likelihood of road crashes occurring. One aspect that we need to focus on is the actual physical condition of the road because there is a direct correlation between the physical condition of the road and increasing the risk of road crashes. I have spoken about this issue in this place previously, and I remember having a bit of back and forth with the member for Newland. I think he might have been the minister for road safety at the time. We know that there is a massive deficit in the backlog of road maintenance. I think the last count might have been something like $400 million. What we see, particularly on rural roads, is that the roads have been left to deteriorate to such a poor state that, instead of the government committing money and fixing up the roads, they reduce the speed limit from 110 km/h to 100 km/h, from 100 km/h down to 90 km/h, and then down to 80 km/h, only because the condition of the roads is so poor. If they committed some funding and fixed up the roads, the speed limit would be quite appropriate at 110 km/h, the maximum speed limit.