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by George Skentzos

The NSW government has announced plans to introduce privately operated and unmarked mobile speed cameras to the state’s roads in a bid to boost revenue.

The state reaped $291m from fines alone in the last financial year, and this figure is set to soar to $428m next year and almost double to $570m by 2012 as a direct result of these speed cameras.

NSW motorists have apparently become savvy to the location of fixed speed cameras which raked in $4m less in the last budget year – creating a deficit which the government intends to plug with more speed cameras.

The government’s stance on the matter is that the program is expected to encourage safe driving behaviour while conveniently emptying the wallets of NSW motorists.

Opposition roads spokesman Andrew Stoner has labelled the move as a blatant revenue-raising tactic and that the government’s forecast for $137m in extra revenue accounted for 20 per cent of the planned surplus the Labor government expected to return for 2010-11.

“This means the state’s fiscal position now relies on more motorists speeding on our roads,” Mr Stoner said. “Speed cameras should be there to deter motorists from driving dangerously, not to raise revenue.”

With NSW police earning a reputation as revenue collection officers, the state government has now removed the thin veil of authority and handed over the task of ‘keeping our roads safe’ to private operators.

Unlike a strong police presence, the use of these unmarked mobile speed cameras presents no immediate deterrent to speeding, with motorists only realising they have been caught when the fine (or should that be bill?) arrives in the mail.

The NRMA is seemingly unsupportive of the decision to introduce mobile speed cameras to Australia’s roads, indicating that the scheme would need to be reviewed regularly.

“If we notice in time that their revenue is increasing but the road toll has not come down, then I think we need to start asking some serious questions about their effectiveness,” a spokesman said.

“We also need to ensure that the cameras are placed in areas that have a known crash history so the revenue raised from those cameras goes back into road safety initiatives.”

The mobile speed camera initiative is already operating in other states where it remains unpopular, with CarAdvice just recently outing illegal operation of these cameras in Victoria.

Source: The Australian




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