Speed cameras to be privatised in WA

Article from:

Joe Spagnolo, political reporter
November 14, 2009 06:00pm

SPEED-CAMERA operations look set to be privatised in WA, prompting fears that profiteering might overtake road-safety priorities.
Police Minister Rob Johnson revealed yesterday that his staff had been involved in ``introductory meetings'' with British firm Serco, which wanted to run WA's multimillion-dollar speed-camera operations.

Mr Johnson admitted that privatising speed and red-light operations was on the Barnett Government's agenda and was supported by Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan.

But the plan has already drawn fire from the Opposition, which claims that putting the personal details of thousands of WA motorists in the hands of a private operator is unwise.

``The Government would also need to retain control of the placement of the cameras to ensure that the private operator was not able to place them solely based on revenue,'' Opposition road safety spokeswoman Margaret Quirk said.

``Decisions on where cameras go can't be based on revenue making, but public safety.''

There are also worries that innocent motorists could be slapped with fines.

In Victoria, Tenix Solutions was stripped of a multimillion-government contract in 2007 after a string of bungles. More than 1100 speeding tickets were wrongly issued.

In some cases cameras were incorrectly calibrated or set up near objects that caused interference.

``Given the recent Wilson car park debacle, where the personal details of thousands of drivers were handed over to private commercial interests, it is vital that any plan for the privatisation of speed-fine processing include strong privacy safeguards.''

Mr Johnson said work on a plan to privatise speed camera operations had started.

There are 27 analogue Multanovas in WA. The number will more than double over the next few months and police will purchase several integrated red-light and speed-camera systems.

In 2007, Serco was awarded a $150 million contract to operate Victoria's traffic-camera system for seven years, staffing and managing the state's mobile speed cameras, red light cameras and CityLink cameras.

Tenix still enforces traffic fines.

A Serco spokeswoman said it was ``interested in partnering with the (Barnett) Government and police to deliver the traffic-camera program in WA''.

``We are already providing a range of services to the WA Government, so we undertake regular meetings with them,'' the spokeswoman said.