Speeding fines to be slashed
By ALEX EASTON and RENEE REDMOND
NORTHERN Rivers speedsters will save about $700,000 a year in speeding fines, but will lose their licences faster under changes flagged by the State Government.
Roads Minister Michael Costa has announced he will slash low-level speeding fines from $130 to $75, but increase the number of demerit points issued with the fines from two to three.
The move, which takes effect at the end of March, will be accompanied by a review of speed cameras, which aims to remove those that contribute more to State cof- fers than to road safety.
However, the people living and working near the region's two highest-earning cameras say they don't care how much they raise, so long as they stop people speeding through their towns.
Eight people in Woodburn and Clunes yesterday told The Northern Star they believed a $75 fine with more demerit points would still be an effective deterrent.
The communities' speed cameras were the region's highest earners during the 2003-04 financial year, raking in nearly $1.5 million of the $2.5 million collected by cameras across the Northern Rivers.
However, Clunes Store and Cellars owner Peter Taylor said traffic laws needed to be stronger across the board.
"They should double the fines and double the points. That might slow them down," he said.
Mr Taylor said the Government should put a camera at the Byron end of the village, saying cars slowed as they passed the existing camera at the Lismore end, but soon sped up again.
Woodburn Chamber of Com- merce secretary Jill McGeary, who has lived 40 years in the town, said the camera had made a big difference to the speed of traffic.
She backed an increase in demerit points, but said reducing fines would make little difference to speed levels around the camera.
The move reduces fines for the largest section of speeding offences and would have slashed more than $700,000 from the $2.5 million collected from the Northern Rivers' nine speed cameras in the 2003-04 financial year.
As well as the review of cameras, Mr Costa said the cheaper fines would be accompanied by reviews of the consistency of speed zones, school speed zones and driver behaviour.
Ballina MP and Opposition roads spokesman Don Page praised the announcement, saying it was time the Government moved cameras such as the ones at Wollongbar and Ocean Shores, which collected revenue for the government, but had little impact on safety.