Victoria is a fine state

In 2020, 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.

Then in May last year, Saul Eslake gave another interview to Sky News whereby he attacked Victoria’s decision to lift fines by 10%, thus making it even more reliant on draconian policing:

“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”…

With this background in mind, it is interesting to read that the Victorian Government has banked a massive increase in speed camera fine revenue:

The number of speeding fines issued as a result of ­detection by both fixed and mobile road safety cameras rose to 1,106,039 from 947,911. Victorian drivers were slugged a total of $318.6m in fines.

Speeding infringements issued between April and June 2021 increased by almost 50 per cent on the same period in 2020…

In total, more than 1.2 million infringement notices were handed out across the state, including a 12.9 per cent increase for speeding and red-light ­offences over 2019-20.

It comes after a 75 per cent increase in the hours mobile road safety cameras were used…

As a Melburnian, fining people $227 for travelling 3kph above an artificially low 40kph speed limit is ridiculous. This is coming from someone that has only incurred one fine in 25 years of driving, not a leadfoot.

Victoria’s speed cameras are more about regressive revenue raising than road safety.

Unconventional Economist
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Comments

  1. Driving down to Melbourne you notice the plethora of speed cameras along the highway, some placed comically barely a few hundred metres apart. Then, in Melbourne you have these arbitrary changes between 60 and 40Kph, so you’re always worried you might make a mistake (20K over the limit being a more serious fine than <15K over). Seems like making everyone feel nerve-wracked and shell-shocked is an Andrew’s government strategy.

    Aside from revenue raising, I wonder if there is some kind of corruption with the company making the speed cameras (is it Red Flex / Red Holdings (?) – I vaguely recall some issue with them years ago..)

    • Then, in Melbourne you have these arbitrary changes between 60 and 40Kph, so you’re always worried you might make a mistake (20K over the limit being a more serious fine than <15K over). Seems like making everyone feel nerve-wracked and shell-shocked is an Andrew’s government strategy.

      Unnecessarily frequent (and often seemingly pointless) speed limit changes are a problem throughout Australia. Police love them, but they’re bad for road safety.

      • Arthur Schopenhauer

        Could just make it consistent and set the speed limit at 40km/hr on all but major roads & freeways. Traffic would certainly flow better.

        • 40km/h suburban or built-up (eg: shopping strip) streets and school zones.
          60km/ urban main roads (ie: that the suburban streets branch off)
          70-80km/h urban arterials (depending on what’s built along them, frequency of driveways/side streets, etc)
          80-100km/h regional main roads / highways, depending on whether or not the verge is cleared (arguably no undivided road should be > 80km/h, but QLD and WA are big places, it’s just not practical).
          100-140km/h limited-access freeways (depending on road construction).

          You should be very confident of correctly estimating the speed limit of the road you’re on just by looking around.

          • UpperWestsideMEMBER

            Australian road speeds are to me insanely low.
            Roads that here in NY would be 55mph (89kmph) are sometimes 40kmph in AUS for no discernible reason.
            (oh and unless you are doing 10mph over in NY the cops ignore you)
            The emphasis on speed alone ignores other accident factors such as some shockingly poor road design , excessive camber, telegraph poles right at the edge of the tarmac etc.

  2. LittleEmperorMEMBER

    They have to fine people to afford the construction of new roads to fine people on. Taking a leaf out of the Transurban playbook.

  3. MMMMmmmmm don’t like speeding fines????? maybe a solution is don’t speed?? Vic has the second lowest per capita road toll death rate and might be partly due to policing???? I really don’t get the revenue raising whinge.

    • A driver with their attention locked on the speedo so as not to go more than a few km/h over the limit is more dangerous than a driver watching their surroundings at 5km/h over the same limit.

      It is trivially simple to drift a few km/h over the limit down a hill.

      • arescarti42MEMBER

        If you’re incapable of driving at the speed limit without drifting over by 5km/h, then just drive 5km/h below the speed limit, and then you won’t exceed the speed limit.

        It’s not rocket science, it’s called being responsible for your own actions.

        • If you’re incapable of driving at the speed limit without drifting over by 5km/h, then just drive 5km/h below the speed limit, and then you won’t exceed the speed limit.

          Your issue is you think that the actual problem is exceeding the speed limit, when in fact it is driving unsafely.

          • arescarti42MEMBER

            Exceeding the speed limit IS driving unsafely.

            If you can’t drive safely, then maybe catch the bus.

          • Exceeding the speed limit IS driving unsafely.

            So if I’m driving on a dual carriageway, and the lane are 4 metres wide, and someone arbitrarily puts a speed limit of 50kmh… and I drive 57kmh… I’m driving in an unsafe manner?

            There is a dearth of people who take citizenship serious in this country.

          • Exceeding the speed limit IS driving unsafely.

            This is a religious statement.

            It’s not hard to find roads that have had speed limits moved both up and down without any other changes made.

        • BoomToBustMEMBER

          Most vehicles report 60kmh, but you are doing 55kmh, so a bit of drift and you are still legal

        • UpperWestsideMEMBER

          I loved the little dinging noise the Singapore taxis made.
          I thought it was the fare meter. Someone told me it was a speeding warning and thus every taxi pretty much sped on the road from Changi.
          Any locals confirm or deny this?.
          Oh and my point being, with GPS and up to date roadmaps cars should be able to ‘ding’ when you are speeding thus ensuring that you can keep your eyes on the road not the speedo.

    • You need to look much more deeply into the statistics re accident and mortality causes. and the ensuing fine revenue from trivial transgressions. At least you expressed your own doubts with your liberal use of question marks!.

  4. This has been true for decades. Victoria had a nationwide reputation for overzealous speed policing when I got my license 25 years ago.

    I’ve not driven anywhere in the world where speeding is so forcefully policed, and with such low thresholds, as Victoria.

    And it’s not reflected in their road safety stats.

    It’s a lazy substitute for pursuing real road safety policies like driver education.

      • Not really.

        Victoria has dramatically stricter speed enforcement, but only a somewhat better road toll.

      • John, Victorias roads are basically dead straight and dead flat and the climate is docile. Producing perhaps some of the easiest driving conditions possible. The road toll should be even lower than it is.

    • Correct. Its so laughable. In the US if you are not doing 75-80mph on the freeway (posted 65mph) you aren’t keeping up with the traffic flow. Haven’t checked versus Aust, but the road deatg toll of NZ versus US is very similar when adjusted for miles driven (US drive nearly twice as much).
      NZ tends to follow Victoria in terms of dumb ideas for traffic enforcement. One Xmas period they advertised a 1kph tolerance, which resulted in higher than average deaths.
      Gee, I wonder why?

      You could argue that adjusting for road conditions the US is even better as down here we don’t face blizzard driving conditions etc that require fitting of winter or snow tyres like you do in parts of the US.

      • UpperWestsideMEMBER

        Dont forget the deer, f…..s are everywhere in large numbers and make a real mess of your car.
        I nearly hit one early in the morning on the upper level of GW, there is pretty much a deer strike on the Sawmill every second day.

  5. This is what happens when government departments are run as profit centres. Police chase easy revenues instead of fighting crime, ATO penny pinches the small guy and doesn’t have the budget to chase the big guys in court, etc.

    • Anders Andersen

      “ATO penny pinches the small guy and doesn’t have the budget to chase the big guys in court, etc.”

      Yes, because the small guy is unlikely to be in a position to fight.

  6. arescarti42MEMBER

    Eh. It’s a classic expected value and payoffs problem.

    For an individual making a decision about whether or not to speed, the expected cost of speeding is a function of their probability of being caught and the amount of the fine. If governments want to deter people from speeding by increasing the expected cost of them doing so, they can either increase enforcement so it becomes more likely you get caught (and thus get fined more often), or they can raise the amount of the fine (so while you might not get fined very often, when you do it really hurts).

    Increasing enforcement costs the government $, while raising fines raises $ – so it is no wonder which option governments choose.

    The other thing to note is that speed makes a massive difference when it comes to road safety. Most people don’t understand that the kinetic energy in a car crash increases exponentially with speed, and the likelihood of a crash being fatal increases with the fourth power of the speed difference. What this means in practice is that relatively small changes in speed have an outsized impact on whether or not you have a crash, and if you do, how severe that crash is.

    Like it or not Leith, hitting a pedestrian at 43km/h is much more likely to severely injure or kill them than if you hit them at 40km/h.

    • For an individual making a decision about whether or not to speed, the expected cost of speeding is a function of their probability of being caught and the amount of the fine.
      ……
      Like it or not Leith, hitting a pedestrian at 43km/h is much more likely to severely injure or kill them than if you hit them at 40km/h

      Or..

      The function of driving safely is probably just an inherent, desired outcome of all, and it better achieved by allowing drivers to concentrate on prevailing road conditions and other drivers… rather than micromanaging the speedo by 5km because of the speed limit dropping 10km/h for a random intersection, before revert back to the original speed limit.

      No one enters the car indifferent to smacking people in their car, only to be deterred by ‘laws’.

      • The Victorian way seems to be to deny drivers this agency though. I mean, in the old days I’d hardly charge through a busy main road shopping strip at 60Kph, yet now I can just follow the constantly changing limit exactly and if anything happens argue the state failed to correctly constrain my speed (would only work in the court of public opinion, I’d imagine). If anyone argues against further lowering, the gov can always do their deflection (“This gov makes no apologies for increasing safety”) rather than require people to actually use their own judgement, after all, the speed limit is that, a ‘limit’, not a mandate.

    • Anders Andersen

      lolololol “For an individual making a decision about whether or not to speed, the expected cost of speeding is a function of their probability of being caught and the amount of the fine.”

      You must be an economist, I don’t know any driver who goes through that process.

  7. Is it just me, or is Victoria looking more like a tinpot third-world tyranny every day? Vile and corrupt politicians, brutal cops, revenue raising via absurd fines…

    Nothing in the world would convince me to move there.

    • Is it just me, or is Victoria looking more like a tinpot third-world tyranny every day? Vile and corrupt politicians, brutal cops, revenue raising via absurd fines

      If socialism is anything, it’s predictable.

  8. JojoyubbyMEMBER

    Wondering what the government will do in ten years time when most cars have driver-assist tech that watches the speed limits for the drivers.

    • Religiously police the standards of serviceability, and/or sell the frequency bandwidth they operate on.

      The first rule of any bureaucracy is to perpetuate itself.

    • Reduce the threshold to 0 and encourage people to drive 5km/h under (thus raising the question, why isn’t the speed limit 5km/h lower ?).

      Also, most of that stuff doesn’t prevent you from speeding, it just tells you when you’re exceeding the limit. Not going to make much difference on the downhill runs, etc, where people tend to drift a bit over.

      • Cruise control on any model Tesla will keep you pegged at the requested speed even down-hill.

    • No, Victoria is becoming that way slowly. NSW not far behind with lockout laws etc.. When I moved to NSW I thought there were too many speed cameras there, but now in Victoria as soon as lockdowns lifted I saw those newly washed 4X4s camping at the side of the road with the camera facing out the back fo the tinted glass. I have almost got done a few times, I mean a population just coming out of the financial hardship of covid and you wanna slug them with speeding fines. Seriously poor form on behalf of these [email protected] suckers.

      • Speeding drivers generally break all rules. That’s why they are targeted. Speeding drivers are bad drivers. Speeding drivers don’t like stop signs, hate indicators, refute the 30m rule…..

        Just suck it up and pay the fines. Or alternatively, drive for the benefit of everyone else on the road.

        Traffic rules aren’t there for the individual, they are in place so all other drivers know what you are doing, or going to do.

        • Meh trick is to know when and where you can get away with speeding. I got busted first time in about 15 years during lockdown nobody on the road went 10km over limit in a tunnel and Camera got me.

          But I’ll give it stick in many places where I know nobody is around or a cop is unlikely to be. So you could say I’m a speeding driver if you want but I don’t conduct myself with all the other attributes you mention like tail gating, lack of indicators, not stopping or giving way.

          I drive to the conditions on the road. Just because some beaurecrat in an office sets a speed limit doesn’t make it optimal or “safer” on a specific road.

  9. Anders Andersen

    The reason states are relying more and more on fine and gaming revenue is because of the continual reduction in taxation.

  10. Arthur Schopenhauer

    Fitzroy St, St Kilda. 2 km/hr over 40km/hr. Fkn expensive morning at the dog beach.

    • FMD that’s absurd. In some cars the thickness of the needle could be 2km/h.

      Probably the better part of 15 years since I got a speeding fine, but I’m glad there’s much more leeway here in QLD.

    • I was on cruise control @ 50kph in WA. Went over the crest of a hill and the CC took a second or two to ease off and “snap” – I was done for $100. First time in 7 years. Livid I was…..

  11. “As a Melburnian, fining people $227 for travelling 3kph above an artificially low 40kph speed limit is ridiculous.”

    A Melbournian your certainly are! I do wish you would look to learn from your ancenstral homeland. Everything from housing density, to public transport, urban layout and now road safety. It would seem you are indeed a Melbournian at heart.

    I never do understand this blogs hate for good urban planning of medium and high density and likewise love of the urban sprawl that is intertwined with a car centric view.

    • MB has been arguing for lower population growth – this will mean less urban sprawl. With Sydney and Melb growing by nearly 100K pa more medium and high density won’t be enough. It would be too slow and expensive and require a lot of coercion so would be deeply unpopular.

  12. It’s getting like that in NSW – even on the water. All the fishermen are complaining about Maritime NSW. One officer harranged me for about 10 min for passing at speed within 10m of an anchored boat – ‘hitting one wave could have resulting in a collision’, he said . Never mind I was only doing about 16 knots and more to the point about 60m away (double the regulation). I thought ever school boy knows about perspective and how 2 objects viewed from a distance appear closer than they really are.

  13. Ive not really seen anyone on this site activelt pushing for urban sprall or a car-centric society

    What most of us are concerned about is ensuring a free, jndependent, capitalist Australia, run for the benefit of Australian citizens and not for vested interests.

    Seeing the Victorian police on display over the past two years, its patently clear they think of themselves as an occupuying force …

    • The front-line grunts are just doing what they are told. The problem is Dan, his cabinet and his senior bureaucracy.

      • Yes but they seem to take delight in being rude and a aggressive about it. Also real offences will do (see my last post).