Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2329..
MR HIRD: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services, Mr Smyth. I refer to claims by my colleague, Mr Hargreaves, on 31 August 1999 in this parliament that the introduction of speed camera legislation was "nothing short of a grab for cash". Has the government got reliable research that confirms that the introduction of speed cameras has had a positive effect on road safety within the territory?
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I thank Mr Hird for his question. I think the full quote was something like:
... all we have heard so far about concern for people's welfare and changing driver habits is absolute bunkum and the legislation is nothing short of a grab for cash.
The words "absolute bunkum" have now flown back into Mr Hargreaves' face. It will be interesting to see if Mr Stanhope asks him to apologise and withdraw the comment.
An independent study by ARRB Transport has shown that there has been a 36 per cent reduction at initial speed camera sites in the number of accidents involving serious injury in the ACT since the introduction of speed cameras. Beyond that, the report commissioned by the NRMA/ACT Road Safety Trust confirms that the speed camera program is improving road safety.
We know that the major contributing factors to accidents are speed, fatigue, alcohol and, oddly enough in the last 18 months, the number of people not wearing seat belts. But one of the biggest contributors is, of course, speed. The report shows that since the introduction of speed cameras in the ACT the number of drivers exceeding the speed limit has fallen by 26 per cent at speed camera sites and by 22 per cent across the rest of Canberra. So there has been a significant decrease in the number of motorists speeding.
We have seen an across-the-board drop in speeding, and that is hardly "bunkum". The question is whether Mr Hargreaves will now rise and apologise for his "bunkum" statement, or does Mr Stanhope have the backbone to make him withdraw that statement.
Mr Speaker, the other issue is that a large number of Canberrans are "speed excessive"-that is, they drive at 10 kilometres above the speed limit. The report said that there has been a 59 per cent decrease in excessive speeding at the speed camera sites; and, across all of Canberra, a 39 per cent reduction.
I hear some gibes that it is only about the revenue. As we have said right from the start, we would be happy not to make a cent from this. But this program has reduced the number of accidents. This has led to a reduction in deaths on our roads and the personal tragedy of families; and it has reduced the impact on the accident, emergency and rehabilitation services provided by Mr Moore's portfolio. The government has said right from the start that we would be quite happy not to receive a single cent from speed camera revenue.
I could not help noticing a statement made by Mr Hargreaves in a recent email, in which he said: