Regional operator slugged $6.6k in controversial speed camera blitz

A North Queensland small fleet operator has accused the state government of blatant revenue-raising after four staff drivers were fined $6656 for allegedly speeding in the small town of Malanda in the Atherton Tablelands.

They are among more than 400 people who were slugged for $500,000 in a two-week period by a “sneaky” speed camera.

Cirsty Kidner-Bonadio the owner/office manager for Bono’s Excavations based on the Atherton Tablelands has called for an investigation into the accuracy of the cameras claiming that some of those breached were not breaking the speed limit.

The company runs 10 trucks and the subject of the claims is a 60km/h sign and a nearby camera in place at the entrance to Malanda, about 350m away from where the speed changes to 80km/h.

“I was fined myself and have no doubt the camera gives inaccurate readings and it is near one of those instruments which flashes and could affect reading and result in an incorrect assessment,” she said.

“This is blatant revenue-raising and the fines are crippling people including small businesses. I know of one single mum who has been breached seven times.”

Kidner-Bonadio believes the camera is placed at an illegal location and said some of those fined may contest them and have already enlisted the services of a Tablelands solicitor.

“The locations have to be approved by the government and this one isn’t, I believe. In any case my drivers are responsible and are safety conscious.

“Some of those fined multiple times have already lost their licences which affects their ability to earn a living in tough financial times.”

Malanda is a scenic town about 20km from Atherton and hundreds of trucks travel through there every day.

Despite having a population of around 2500, more than 400 people have received more than 600 fines since the camera was deployed in September.

A Transport and Main Roads Department (TMR) spokesperson from the Cairns regional office told Big Rigs that over 94 per cent of motorists who passed the camera at Malanda in the period were not issued with a speeding fine.

“There were 342 offences at more than 20km/h over the speed limit and eight offences at more than 40km/h over the speed limit.

“The highest speed in the 60km/h zone was 124km/h,” the spokesperson said.

The yellow arrow shows where the mobile speed camera is placed. Photo: Cirsty Kidner-Bonadio

TMR is responsible for the cameras and uses a managed service for some tasks including deploying the camera on site.  All adjudication of potential offences is conducted by the Queensland Revenue Office (QRO), according to the spokesman.

“The accuracy of speed cameras is paramount in ensuring that infringements are trustworthy and that they maximise deterrence from speeding. Both TMR and the service provider confirm all calibration, validation and resultant accuracy has been achieved across all deployments ensuring only valid infringement notices have been generated and issued.

“Several validations and checks are undertaken, prior to infringements being issued from TRSCs.”

Local MP for Hill Shane Knuth told Big Rigs he has written to the Transport Minister Mark Bailey demanding a full official Ministerial Inquiry into the accuracy of the device and the validity of its placement.

He has requested that all payments of fines be reimbursed and called for demerit points to be recredited.

Knuth said it is immoral to issue multiple fines from a device stationed for two weeks at a location just outside a small township, where there have been no serious instances of speed related crashes over the past five years.

“I firmly believe the device was malfunctioning. At the very least there should be a procedure put in place by the department that once a motorist is allegedly clocked at exceeding the speed limit from one of these devices, they should be notified immediately via text or email. This would immediately change behaviour.”

He said the current delay means some people are receiving multiple fines up to a month later with no time to appeal.

He knows of a trainee ambo who has received nine fines totalling $7000 and a health worker who has received seven fines totalling $3200, who is now on mediation because of fear of losing her licence and job.

Transport Minister Mark Bailey confirmed the camera, which was positioned on an incline, had detected hundreds of drivers over the limit, including 342 travelling at more than 20km/hr over the 60km/h speed limit.

Bailey insisted that all the cameras deployed to regional and rural areas were working correctly.

‘Given the largest number of fatalities in over a decade recorded last year, it is disappointing to hear state MPs suggesting spurious claims about speed camera accuracy instead of sending out a clear and strong road safety message condemning speeding given the higher level of fatalities in regional and rural areas compared to urban areas,” he said.

He said several validations and checks are undertaken, prior to infringements being issued from TRSCs.

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