Impact of new speed cameras put under microscope as government revenue set to double

Lottie Twyford 15 October 2021 41
Speed camera on Northbourne Avenue

Time is running out to manage your Northbourne Avenue speeding fine, but new data shows the ACT Government could have done more to warn you about the new speed limit. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

With the ACT Government’s revenue from traffic infringements predicted to more than double this financial year, a standing committee has been set up to examine the impact of the city centre’s lucrative new speed cameras.

It’s also been revealed that a proposal to send a warning letter to every motorist caught speeding in the new 40km/h zones in Civic during the grace period in July 2021 was explicitly rejected by government ministers.

The 2021-22 Budget Papers predicted the ACT Government’s traffic infringement revenue would more than double from $26.8 million in 2020-2021 to $58.9 million in 2021-2022.

However, it was noted this could decline in the forward estimates given “anticipated driver behavioural change”.

A standing committee comprising MLAs Jo Clay, Suzanne Orr and Mark Parton is currently investigating the impact of the new speed limits in Civic on commuters after a petition was tabled in the Assembly in September calling on the ACT Government to waive fines.

The ACT Opposition called on the government to drop all fines issued by the new cameras in July after the petition was signed by more than 1200 people.

At total of 6100 speeding infringements were issued in July 2021, totalling more than $5 million.

Since then, more than 1000 fines have been issued each week, a trend that has continued since the ACT’s COVID-19 lockdown began.

The committee is accepting submissions from Canberrans about their experience with the new speed limits until Monday, 18 October.


READ ALSO: Been pinged on Northbourne Avenue? Here’s what you can do about it


Mr Parton had previously labelled the spike in revenue – up to $1.6 million a week at its peak – as a “perverse outcome” for the cameras and criticised what he perceived as a communication failure on the ACT Government’s part.

Around 20,000 people sped through the cameras during the grace period, and none were issued with a warning letter.

At the time, the NRMA criticised this decision.

Now it’s been revealed the ACT Government knowingly rejected a proposal from ACT road officials to write a warning letter to every motorist caught speeding in the new zone due to the expected high cost of such an undertaking.

ACT Minister for Business and Better Regulation Tara Cheyne, and ACT Minister for Transport Chris Steel, rejected explicit proposals to send letters to motorists, with Ms Cheyne telling the ACT Legislative Assembly that sending a warning letter to every single driver would have been too expensive and would have required extensive resourcing.

She suggested that each letter would have cost more than $1 in postage and stationery, and that it would have been a significant use of staffing, amounting to costs somewhere in the vicinity of $300,000, “including the significant diversion of resources”.


READ ALSO: No excuses for drivers flouting city slowdown


Ms Cheyne also outlined the fact that there are 17 road signs showing the new speed limit on the roads, that there are variable messaging signs in use, and pointed to the fact that the ACT Government had run radio advertisements in peak-hour to warn commuters of the change.

Earlier this year, Mr Steel committed to boosting signage in the area after the initial community outcry when more than $5 million in fines were issued in one month.

In the cameras’ first 48 hours of operation, 5000 drivers reportedly breached the new speed limit and the government warned Canberrans to slow down.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr then had to apologise after suggesting on ABC Radio that motorists who had been caught speeding in the grace period had been issued warnings.

He later said warnings had been issued in many ways, just not through individual letters.

The speed limits are signposted before each of the cameras at the intersections of Northbourne Avenue and Barry Drive; Northbourne Avenue and London Circuit; and Barry Drive and Marcus Clarke Street.


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41 Responses to Impact of new speed cameras put under microscope as government revenue set to double
Michael Hardy Michael Hardy 11:24 pm 19 Oct 21

it needs to be moved

Më Batterbury Më Batterbury 6:34 pm 19 Oct 21

I think 50 is ok but 40 is just ridiculous

Jazzy Dhooria Jazzy Dhooria 6:26 pm 19 Oct 21

You voted them in... Just sayin

Jaffa Groube Jaffa Groube 9:58 am 19 Oct 21

The govt has not made a case for lowering the speed in the first place and to do so on major thoroughfares like North borne Ave and Barry Dr is ridiculous given the number of traffic light controlled pedestrian crossing on both roads. Where are is the data showing the number of incidents involving pedestrians and cars and the causes. Is it the speeding drivers or pedestrians looking at the phones who are the problem? Is it cyclists having two bob each way or the roads and foot paths? What was wrong with the 60kph speed limit?

jcjordan jcjordan 8:13 am 19 Oct 21

Given the complete lack of care in the majority of drivers because they know that the likelihood of them being caught speeding the behaviour will never change. We need to look to states like SA that allow for large numbers of hidden mobile cameras. Given that the overall objective is to reduce the abysmal road toll we need to start making all driving offences to result in a real impact. For example 20km over the limit should result in a loss, not suspension, of the licence for a minimum of 2 years and require the driver to undergo the full process (L & P) to regain their licence.

Steve Aust Steve Aust 7:44 am 19 Oct 21

Just avoid the CBD. Easy.

Garrie Irons Garrie Irons 7:41 am 19 Oct 21

If the objective is to encourage driving at a safe speed,

Commit to returning some amount of the funds into engineering the road in a way that leads to people driving at the speed which is being mandated.

No, signs are not enough. If they were, the revenue would not be what it is. No, I have not been fined there.

Hunter Smithers Hunter Smithers 6:14 am 19 Oct 21

Staring at your speedo instead of watching the road is far safer for pedestrians !!

Anna Konda Anna Konda 6:32 pm 18 Oct 21

Put a few on Boddington crescent , and they will make a motza

Tony Siciliano Tony Siciliano 6:30 pm 18 Oct 21

And for this reason I’ve moved out of the ACT it’s nothing but a greedy government running it rates rego goods services all over priced

    Matt Flagget Matt Flagget 10:18 pm 18 Oct 21

    Tony Siciliano yep, us too - gone. Born, raised and lived most of my life in Canberra but it’s green/left underbelly is rotting minds and slowly but surely ruining the place.

Matt Flagget Matt Flagget 4:34 pm 18 Oct 21

London Circuit and Barry Drive 40 zones are nothing more than Nanny State controls. Totally unnecessary and a brazen rip off.

Aaron Nicoli Aaron Nicoli 8:40 am 18 Oct 21

It’s also so much safer now… 60km/h jam brakes on for the camera, accelerate back out to 60…

It’s achieved nothing for safety, if anything safety is worse, but hey, we know that’s not why they did it.

Phil Hogan Phil Hogan 8:04 am 18 Oct 21

Got to pay for the tram 🙄

mark boast mark boast 2:59 am 18 Oct 21

Is a speed limit a “never exceed” or a permissible maximum plus/minus 10%? Cameras don’t image opinion. Time to move on .

Patrice Riboust Patrice Riboust 12:09 am 18 Oct 21

How much the standing committee members are paid for this job?

Jimbo Lambert Jimbo Lambert 9:05 pm 17 Oct 21

So what was the justification for reducing the Barton Highway section near Gungahlin Drive from 100km/h to 80km/h? It's dual late straight road. I have never heard of any fatalities until recently. So using that logic, 100km/h is safer than 80km/h!

    Bruce Grantham Bruce Grantham 5:31 pm 18 Oct 21

    Yes agreed this is a joke having a straight section of road drop 20KPH for no real reason . everytime I return to visit family and friends I wonder what the justification for the drop was

    Billy Lindsay-Clarke Billy Lindsay-Clarke 7:34 pm 18 Oct 21

    Bruce Grantham a bunch of Karen’s decided to move next to a busy 100km limit road and they didn’t like how loud it was. So instead of dealing with the consequences of their own decisions they decided it would be better to make everyone else suffer from their poor choices and they got the speed limit lowered in that section.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 8:11 pm 18 Oct 21

    Jimbo Lambert apparently the issue was risk of hitting roo’s and other wildlife and people running off the side of the road at night. And whilst you may not have heard of any fatalities it was on a federal government accident blackspot list and the change and lane edge marking was funded by them.

    Oh and the fatality recently was at the Gungahlin drive lights, that section has been 80 for 20 years at least.

Peter Ball Peter Ball 4:32 pm 17 Oct 21

At least I feel safer now, when crossing the road while updating my FB profile. 😜 Before the new limits, it was like Russian Roulette. 😩

Greg Myat Greg Myat 3:45 pm 17 Oct 21

Oh damn! Can’t speed there now because of a pesky camera! 🧐

    Dale Janssen Dale Janssen 2:10 pm 19 Oct 21

    Greg Myat the speed limit was dropped from 60 to 40.

Brett Brett 9:32 am 17 Oct 21

I believe this 40k zone is unreasonable. If you’re drive from, say, Sydney to Woden, you’ll go from 110kph to 100kph to 80kph to 60kph then all the way down to 40kph while driving on the major thoroughfare through Canberra.

What exactly has been achieved here? Every intersection has pedestrian crossing lights so the experience for pedestrians has not changed. Has there really been a lot of carnage on Northborne Avenue that’s triggered this?

No. It’s purely a revenue raising exercise which is really working out well for the ACT government.

    Felix the Cat Felix the Cat 2:13 pm 17 Oct 21

    How many deaths or serious injuries is acceptable? Pretty minor inconvenience to be delayed for literally only a few seconds.

    Failing to see the relevance of your coment about driving from Sydney to Canberra and there being different speed limits along the way. 100km/h zone is the highway/freeway where you are unlikely to encounter any pedestrians. 80km/h areas are similar but more likely to encounter pedestrians but not as many as you would see in a residential or built up area such as the CBD.

    Sydney CBD is a 40kn/h zone, why not Canberra?

    School zones have been 40km/h since forever. Why are they not an issue for you but Northbourne Ave is?

    Canberra now has light rail running down the centre of Northbourne Ave with passengers needing to cross Northbourne Ave to get on or off. Along with many shops and office buildings in the area makes for a high population density and therefore more risk of motorist and vunerable road user unplanned ineractions.

    Brett Brett 7:29 am 18 Oct 21

    Just because someone needs to cross the road doesn’t mean they need to do it where there is no pedestrian crossing.

Steve Jones Steve Jones 8:26 pm 16 Oct 21

Wonder if the school bus companies have started to advertise that there will be 40kph around the busses when the lights are flashing so it gives time to all the self entitled people that can’t read??

    Martin Ross Martin Ross 8:21 pm 17 Oct 21

    Steve Jones transport Canberra buses don’t have flashing lights. Only Qcity ones do. And the local private companies don’t have them either. NSW ones do however

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