Category Archives: REVENUE RAISING


Illustration: Michael Mucci.

Illustration: Michael Mucci.

NSW is over-policed. Taxpayers are funding a costly, inefficient and increasingly intrusive force that devotes only 21 per cent of its work hours to investigating crime. Most of the rest is soft stuff and bureaucracy. The amount of the public’s time being wasted by police is both prodigious and unacknowledged.

Without exception, every single intrusion by police, every act of harassment, every misallocation of resources, is rationalised as “public safety”. This Orwellian catch-all is used to rationalise a multitude of sins.

On average, about 16,000 people a day are enduring random intrusions by police, fined for petty offences, or fined via private tax collectors acting for profit.

I don’t even have to leave my house to sense the scale of the rising officiousness. The following incident, multiplied by a thousand times a day, is why the NSW Police are on a course to being perceived as an occupying army rather than a safety net:

On December 22, a woman double-parked outside my house to pick up a package from me. It didn’t take long, it was mid-afternoon, the street was quiet. Suddenly, a police siren wailed. A patrol car had pulled up behind her. The siren blast was manifestly unnecessary. The woman drove off and there had been no disruption to traffic. A few days later she received a Traffic Infringement Notification. She had been fined $242. She could pay or she could go to court.

She was outraged. By any measure, this was bastardry, and thus poor policing. Patrol cars are linked to the police data base, so Officer Siren would have seen that the woman had a very good driving record. He booked her anyway, for a trivial breach.

Two weeks ago it happened again. Another police siren outside my house. It was mid-morning. I went outside to see another woman being booked by another Officer Siren.

I took a photo of the car with my iPhone. The police officer called out “Can I help you, sir?”

I replied: “Do you think you’re doing the reputation of the police any good by doing this?”

“The car is double-parked. There’s nothing I can do about what people think, sir.”

I replied: “There’s everything you can do.”

Every year, NSW police stop more than five million people who have done nothing wrong. They do so politely, but most of these interventions are non-productive and cost the public tens of thousands of hours of lost time. The majority of these checks are bureaucratic make-work.

Only about 0.35 per cent of people stopped for random breath tests are charged with an offence, and most of those offences are minor.

There is a social cost to the increasing use of police and paralegals as tax collectors. As a former NSW police detective told me: “The exponential rise in revenue from Traffic Infringement Notices since the advent of privatised speed cameras has seen an escalation in people losing their licences, and their employment. Some have even lost their homes.”

On March 8, the NRMA took the unusual step of issuing a press release to complain about the way the state government was using private sub-contractors to ramp up the revenue collected from motorists via mobile speed traps: “New data shows almost 41,000 motorists have been fined by the cameras so far this financial year, up from almost 26,500 in 2013-14.”

That’s a 50 per cent surge. The NRMA urged the government to have the speed limit displayed on warning signs, “to reduce unnecessary anxiety for motorists”. It called for a fairer, safer warning system, as warnings are currently displayed only 250 metres and 50 metres before the speed camera. The NRMA wants the speed camera vehicles more clearly marked.

The major corporate operator of mobile speed cameras is Redflex. It has a contract with the NSW government and its 2014 annual report contains this ominous paragraph: “During financial year 2014, over $3.5 million was invested in the [NSW] contract which is anticipated to deliver annual revenue of more than $9 million per annum over the next two-and-a-half-year period.”

Redflex thus estimates it will harvest revenue of $23 million during the duration of its contract until 2016. Packaged as “public safety” of course.

Ever since random breath testing was introduced in 1982, there has been a steady decline in road fatalities. The annual reports of the NSW Police have cited RBT as the most effective tool in the fight to reduce fatalities. But the deterrent effect of RBT plateaued years ago. The continued downward trend in fatalities in the past decade has come more from the introduction of air bags and improvements in auto technology.

Police could achieve broadly the same impact with RBT with half the rate of stoppages, half the cost, and half the social disruption. Instead, the police and the government are going in the opposite direction, with more intrusions.

Compounding this policy malfunction is the rip-off of motorists at the federal level. Over the past 15 years, the federal government has extracted $136 billion in fuel excises from vehicle-owners, yet spent $53 billion on road infrastructure. The disparity is $83 billion. Vehicle owners are thus being milked by government in addition to the impositions imposed by the states.

Then there is local government, where inner-city councils deploy swarms of tax collectors they call “rangers”. No bureaucratic euphemism can disguise the grim pettiness attached to the term “parking inspector”. They seem to live in my street.

At every level of government – federal, state, local – vehicle-owners are being used as cash cows by government, in a disingenuous and increasingly intrusive way. And I don’t even own a car.


Henry Sapiecha

Police defend speeding policy in fining people for minor speed infringements

Police have defended their focus on low-level speeding radar gun use image

Police have defended their focus on low-level speeding

New South Wales and Victoria police have hit back at claims by Mazda Australia boss Martin Benders that the focus on speeding has created a nation of distracted drivers.

Speaking at a press event in Japan this week Benders said he believes Australian drivers have become too focused on not speeding at the detriment of driving standards.

Benders, who spent six years working in Mazda’s operations in Japan and Europe, believes that the Australian law enforcement’s decision to focus so heavily on low-level speeding has contributed to a significant drop in driving standards.

“I have to say, having been away six years, I’m amazed how bad the driving has gotten in Australia in terms of a focus on not going 1km/h over – it’s just shocking,” Benders said at a press conference in Japan. “And yet we’ve got the police standing up saying ‘we can’t have distracted drivers’ – we’ve got nothing but distracted drivers. They are so focused on whether they are 1km/h out on the speed limit or not, it’s shocking. It is a real problem in Australia.”


Masashi Otskua, project leader on the CX-5 and CX-9 SUVs, said he was surprised by the strict nature of Australian police about speeding during his fact-finding visits here.

“Before I went to Australia I thought Australians would be very tolerant,” Otsuka said. “That was not the case.”

But police in both NSW and Victoria are adamant that their focus on speeding is necessary to cut the road toll.

“Speed is a major killer on our roads,” Victorian Roads Policing Superintendent Neville Taylor told Fairfax Media.

“Research shows that you are more likely to collide with another car, hit a pedestrian or run off the road if you exceed the speed limit.

“This is why maximum speed limits exist and police will be enforcing them. If you are travelling above the posted speed limit, you can expect to be stopped by police.

“You may not think that a few kilometres extra will make a big difference but research shows that it does. We are trying to change the culture and make all speeding socially unacceptable, the way we did with drink driving and not wearing seatbelts.”

New South Wales police directed Fairfax to recent road safety data from Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics that showed a 25 per cent drop in road deaths between 2004 and 2013.

Henry Sapiecha





A record spike in drivers intentionally altering their plates has prompted a dramatic fine increase.

West Australians who deliberately obscure their number plates risk a $1000 fine, up from the current $50 penalty.

Acting police minister John Day said on Sunday that a record spike in drivers intentionally altering their plates had prompted the dramatic fine increase.

Mr Day said the most likely reason for the spike was hoon drivers trying to prevent detection from speed and red-light cameras.

“They could also have outstanding warrants, not have a licence or be part of an organised crime syndicate and want to deliberately avoid detection,” Mr Day said.

Mr Day said drivers were installing flipping mechanisms, remote controlled shutters, using protective films and bending the corners of plates to avoid getting caught.

Opposition spokeswoman for police Michelle Roberts said while she welcomed the fine, the government had been slow to introduce a meaningful deterrent for a problem raised years ago.

A spokeswoman for Mr Day said the fine had been implemented since September 26 as part of a raft of penalty changes.

She said the government would start to receive information on how many people had been fined in about a month.

It seems that the latest number plate reading devices have instigated a concern that number plate reading by police would be difficult if number plates were distorted in some way.

There goes big brother sitting in an arm chair getting fat on revenue raising & picking on motorists via remote cameras so the system can send fines to you in the mail for whatever reason they invent that sounds like it has justifiable community merit

Refer our earlier article on number plate reading devices.

Henry Sapiecha