Saul Eslake slams Victorian police state

Last year, independent economist Saul Eslake slammed the heavy handed display by the Victorian Government and Police against its own citizenry in enforcing its draconian COVID-19 lockdown rules.

According Eslake, Victorians during the first lockdown payed almost $6 million in fines for breaching COVID restrictions, $2.2 million more than the rest of the country combined:

“Let me emphasise here, the comparisons I’m making are during the first lockdown, between late March and late May when all states were facing essentially the same situation during the first wave,” Mr Eslake told Sky News.

“Particularly Victoria collected five-and-a-half times as much by way of revenue from fines for breaches of lockdown regulations as New South Wales, can you really believe that there were five-and-a-half times more Victorians for every person in New South Wales who was doing something stupid or idiotic.

“No of course not, the difference was that Victoria was much more zealous in putting the police out there looking for breaches, Victoria was much less willing to exercise discretion for minor or inadvertent breaches.

“And the fines which Victoria imposed for every breach were considerably higher than the rest of the country.

“If that resulted in Victoria having a better experience then you might defend that as a sensible policy to have pursued.”

Mr Eslake said it is quite plausible to think the “complacency with which Premier Andrews so charmingly accused his fellow citizens of displaying when the first lockdown restrictions were eased” was caused by the “sense of relief they might have felt from getting out from under what had been clearly the most oppressive policing regime when it came to lockdown regulations”.

Today, Saul Eslake has given another interview to Sky News (below) where he has attacked Victoria’s decision to lift fines by 10%, which will make it even more reliant on draconian policing:

Mr Eslake said Victoria had already done “a lot of damage to its image” through its mishandling of the pandemic and its “over the top policing” which he argued would get worse due to a 10 per cent increase in fines.

“Victoria is already the state which uses its police force as a branch of the state tax office to a much greater extent than any other state,” he said.

“We saw that during the pandemic when Victoria was levying some of the heaviest fines in the world for breaches of lockdown regulations and enforcing them much more zealously than for example the police in Russia or Saudi Arabia.

“The consequences of the image that Victoria’s creating for itself as a high tax state, as an overpoliced state is going to do the Victorian economy some long-term harm”…

As a Melburnian, I 100% endorse this message. Fining people $227 for travelling 3kph above an artificially low 40km per hour speed limit is the ultimate insult. It’s not about road safety, but blatant regressive revenue raising.

 

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Comments

  1. Imagine the smirk on El Smirko after this! He’s already making hay with the Stamp Duty increases.

  2. SnappedUpSavvyMEMBER

    as soon as you cross the border into Vic the driving becomes unbearable with people overtaking each other for about 10 minutes cause theyre too scared to go more then 5kph over, it becomes more dangerous then just getting the over take done

    • boomengineeringMEMBER

      First time in NSW I was struck by the difference in cops attitude compared with WA. The cops in Sydney seemed to be more interested in catching the big fry rather than harass the average punter. Freedom I never ceased to appreciate.
      That said, was friends with the cop (police boys club) that saw corruption who dobbed in to higher ups who were in on it. The mafia wanted him out of the way and so did the cops. Met him in Freshwater one day and he said he went to bed one night and in the morning all his hair had fallen out. His actions is what started the royal commission into police corruption.

  3. Last time down that way driving out to Colac from Melbourne. I was stuck between two trucks and could not get out of the lane due to heavy traffic. I was fined for 3 km an hour over the speed limit in a 100 km zone. It is joke.

    • Charles MartinMEMBER

      Been there before.
      Every year we usually road trip from Sydney to Melbs for the Formula 1 and the joke has always been do the speed limit or just under as it’s not worth getting shot by the Victorian coppers. In NSW from Sydney to the border, doing to 10-15 over the speed limit is normal in most places, but once over the border, forget about it. Now we fly.

      Back in 2005 we took my mates then new MK4 Golf R32, as soon as we got over the border the police interst in the car was like nothing we’d ever seen before. One copper tailed us closely for like 20k’s then turned around and went back towards the border. Must have been a slow day.

      Good times.

    • Bet that was on the Westgate where it meets the ring road. Everyone gets pinged 3-8 kms over 100km

      • 3 km/h WTF? There must be a bunch of rear-ender accidents with everyone’s eyes glued to the speedo rather than watching the road.

  4. Most of the speeding fines are contracted out to Serco. It used to be Tenix. Victoria has contracted out most of its government functions. Most new projects such as the Metro Tunnel, Frankston Hospital redevelopment are all PPPs. It is not entirely unexpected that fines need to increase to get revenue as the government is paying private rates for core activities.

  5. arescarti42MEMBER

    Interesting discussion.

    I’m always amazed by people who complain about speeding fines. Speeding fines are easily avoidable by not speeding. It really is that simple.

    Speeding causes road fatalities, which have significant economic and human costs. Crash risk and risk of injury increase non-linearly with speed, which makes even low range speeding dangerous.

    I suspect it is no coincidence that Victoria has the second lowest road death toll in Australia (behind the ACT).

    • Speeding fines are easily avoidable by not speeding. It really is that simple.

      Unless you are watching your speedo rather than the road, it is not always possible to know what speed you are going at at every single point of time. Proper law enforcement recognises this and gives you a buffer.

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      Pinging people at 3km/h over the limit does nothing to improve road safety. It just breeds a society of drivers who spend all their time looking at the speedo rather than the road.

      The deaths per vehicle km travelled here show that Victoria does not have meaningfully (if at all) better road safety than countries like Germany, Spain, Switzerland, The UK and Ireland – and I can assure you its speed enforcement is dramatically more strict and pedantic (to say nothing of typical vehicle speeds).

      https://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/ongoing/international_road_safety_comparisons

      “Speed kills” is simple sloganeering to justify revenue raising and avoiding things like proper driver training, stricter licensing and better road engineering. Pretty sure most accidents and fatalities happen at or under the speed limit, or are the result of reckless driving.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        The other point I’d make is that the setting of speed limits is an absolute dog’s breakfast in Australia. Eg: undivided two-way roads with 100km/h speed limits and divided, multi-lane, limited access roads with 80km/h speed limits are both commonplace. Or speed limits changing half a dozen times up and down in the space of a few kilometres for no apparent reason. This makes it very difficult to be confident what the speed limit is at a given moment, since it cannot be reliably estimated by road design and conditions. So it’s very easy – especially on unfamiliar roads – to find yourself driving quite safely, but over the speed limit.

        There is, of course, very little incentive for anyone to fix this.

        • arescarti42MEMBER

          Agree that speed limits are way too high for many roads in this country.

          The default speed limit on undivided country roads should be 80km/h, not 100km/h.

          • BoomToBustMEMBER

            I take it you live in the city?? For anyone who has spent any meaningful time living in the country they will tell you your opinion is 100% garbage. I used to find what made me sleepy in the country when going places was flat, open boring roads at 100kmh. To stay alert i’d dial the cruise control up to 130/140.

          • I live in northern nsw and many undivided 100kmh roads should be 80. The engineering, grade, visibility and surface is way way worse than vic (where I’m from)

            Lismore and Byron in particular

          • arescarti42MEMBER

            “I take it you live in the city?? For anyone who has spent any meaningful time living in the country they will tell you your opinion is 100% garbage. ”

            Not my opinion, just pure, cold hard fact. Country people may like driving fast on country roads, but they also die at a rate 6-8x higher than their city counterparts.

            Make a mistake at 100km/h+ on a typical country road and you’re dead. At 80km/hr you might survive.

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            Not my opinion, just pure, cold hard fact. Country people may like driving fast on country roads, but they also die at a rate 6-8x higher than their city counterparts.

            Dying in a rural road accident probably has more to do with how long it takes to get treatment, than 80km/h vs 100km/h.

            Ideally all roads over 80km/h would be divided. Practically speaking that’s very difficult (ie: expensive), and the fatigue implications of reducing regional roads to 80km/h are not insignificant.

        • Yep Melbourne suburbia & country roads up & down. 6km stretch between Maryborough & Carisbrook 40 50 60 80 100 80 60 80 60. 80 100

      • arescarti42MEMBER

        “The deaths per vehicle km travelled here show that Victoria does not have meaningfully (if at all) better road safety than countries like Germany, Spain, Switzerland, The UK and Ireland”

        This is a straw man argument – totally different countries, with different road conditions, road infrastructure, and driving cultures to Australia.

        • BoomToBustMEMBER

          agreed, nanny state teaches people an emphasis on the wrong aspect of driving. Rather we should focus on driver skills and training along with ensuring driving is the no.1 task at hand. Teach more self reliance and independence, the ability to judge a situation and go faster or slower when conditions dictate.

        • drsmithyMEMBER

          This is a straw man argument – totally different countries, with different road conditions, road infrastructure, and driving cultures to Australia.

          Uh, what straw man ? You’re the one making a simplistic argument about speeding and its enforcement.

          I’m making the point road safety is rather more complicated.

        • I think that is the point though.
          Many of these countries have a wider variety of road conditions and yet the cops aren’t jumping out from behind bushes if you are 3kph over.
          In the US if you aren’t doing at least 75/80mph on freeway (posted 65mph) you aren’t keeping up. Remember doing about 90mph in a chain of cars and had a cop in the rear-view. For sure thought I was busted so eased off a few until he blasted past doing about 100mph. When it’s 4-5 lanes each way you can pretty much drive where you are comfortable which is a far safer situation IMO.
          Been passed by a logging truck in Canada doing 130kph. LOL.
          The mantra from VIC, which spreads to other places has erred too much into creating a bunch of speedo-watching drivers who can’t drive to the conditions.

    • Yes, though the penalty gradient from law abiding to fines and demerit is very steep. That said, Leith’s 40 km/h example is not a good one though sometimes one wonders why it is in place in some places. It’s not an arbitrary limit – at 40 km/h a pedestrian has 50% chance of survival.

      • arescarti42MEMBER

        Indeed – it’s actually more like 60% chance of survival at 40km/hr.

        Falls to only 10% chance of survival if you get hit at 50km/hr

      • Leith must have just had a slow drive home lol

        Citation required that lower speed limits don’t have better outcomes for pedestrians

  6. Warrigul road between ashburton and chadstone? Yup, i’ve been done by that one. Its almost like its designed to catch everyone out once. And dont forget the 240 dollar myki fines they had, got one of those even though i was in the middle of a month pass and accidentally missed the swipe as i ran for the train.

  7. Lord DudleyMEMBER

    Wow! Victoria sounds like hell. Luckily for me, being an emigrant from Australia, I couldn’t go there if I wanted to.

    Remind me again how many kids the NSW police have sexually assaulted in the last year.

    The old carefree Australia is dead. The new one is doomed to become a more fascist version of Argentina. Enjoy the decline!

  8. gballardMEMBER

    There is no reason at all why the speed limit on the Hume Highway travelling between Sydney and Melbourne cannot be increased to 130 km per hour for quite lengthy stretches and enforce driving on the inner lane for slower moving vehicles. This would cut well more than 1 hour of the travel time and reduce driver fatigue and boredom.

    In suburban Melbourne most roads have varying speed limits over quite short distances which is an excellent means of the Victorian so called “government” gaining revenue by way of imposing absurd fines if a driver then strays over the posted limit by as little as 3kmh. The whole system is a hypocritical and shambolic enforcement of so called “road safety” !!!