Pedestrian Council of Australia

Safety – Amenity – Access – Health


Media Release

Friday 10 June 2005


“Costa buckles to backdoor pressure from taxi, courier and truck unions and puts pedestrian safety at the bottom of the food-chain.”


Following persistent attempts to get answers from Michael Costa’s office (NSW Minister for Roads), the PCA has been reliably informed that Mr Costa is about to announce that he will reduce former Roads Minister Carl Scully’s and the RTA’s recommended Demerit Points (DPs) for Stopping in a Pedestrian Zone from 3 to 1.  This is in spite of the fact that even the NRMA’s policy since 1998 has been that there should be 3 Demerit Points for this offence (see attached letter).  And the same Minister who has just abolished the long-standing position of General Manager, Bicycle and Pedestrians, at the RTA.


The Chairman of the PCA, Harold Scruby said: “Following over 7 years of lobbying by the PCA, in October 2002, the then Minister for Roads, Carl Scully, announced that the RTA would lead a review of the relativities of the penalties of all infringement notices for traffic and parking infringements, including demerit points. The main purpose of the review was to rationalise the levels of penalties and demerit points based on road safety and traffic management considerations and their deterrence value. In May 2003, the RTA Chief Executive (Paul Forward) proposed that there would be greater value if the review were conducted under the auspices of the Road Safety Taskforce (RST).


“In conjunction with the RST, the RTA called for public comment on the review via advertisements in the major Sydney newspapers on 26 July 2003. Interested persons were invited to provide written submissions addressing the above Terms of Reference. Further information about current offences was made available on the RTA’s website. The closing date for comment was 5 September 2003. A total of 79 written submissions were received.


“A Reference Group, comprising representatives from NSW Police, Ministry of Police, Pedestrian Council of Australia, NRMA and RTA was formed primarily to evaluate the submissions from the public. Involvement in the Reference Group also provided the opportunity for members to detail their particular issues and concerns. The Reference Group met twice and provided significant input into the proposed changes and final recommendations.


“The NRMA's policy, released March 2003 (which followed their major review of fines and DPs) was and is that: "The Demerit Points (DP) Scheme needs to be reviewed to ensure it is fair, consistent and focused on safety. All safety-related offences should incur demerit points.  Penalties should be reviewed to ensure that offences that are most likely to endanger the community carry higher penalties …"  .  The DP Task Force based its approach to the project on this policy and assigned same to over 1,500 offences.” Mr Scruby added.


“The RTA again advertised those recommendations for public comment.  Following that, the recommendations went to the Ministerial Road Safety Task Force and then to Parliament with Carl Scully issuing a Media Release announcing "Fairer Fines and Demerit System to Boost Safety" on 23 September 2004 to come into force on 1 March 2005.


“In early 2005, Scully was moved to Police and Costa was moved to Roads.  Costa put an immediate hold on the new scheme, which is now expected to come into force on 1 July 2005, and announced that he was very much in favour of Demerit Points as a Road Safety measure and immediately announced there would be an extra DP for low-range speeding (now 3) and 3 DPs for hogging the outside lane (the Taskforce had already recommended 2).


“Rumours have since surfaced that he has been quietly fiddling with the new scheme, without any consultation with the major stakeholders or the public.  The scheme now before Parliament had unanimous approval from all concerned, including Opposition Leader John Brogden, NSW Police, Ministry of Police, Pedestrian Council of Australia, NRMA, RTA the NSW P&C, Council on the Ageing, NSW Council Rangers and all the Disabilities groups.  


“The PCA has repeatedly asked the minister's staff to deny these rumours, without reply. One of the Scully’s main initiatives was that for the first time in Australian history, there would be three DPs for stopping in a Pedestrian Zone.  It will be a very important road safety enforcement tool, particularly for children around schools and for the elderly.   Further rumours suggest that  Minister Costa has been lobbied by the taxi, courier and trucking unions and has quietly and without any consultation agreed to drop the penalty to 1 Demerit Point.  It will effectively mean you can park a Toyota Prado on a children’s pedestrian crossing, once a month, every month, forever – and never lose your licence.  But you will lose 6 Demerit Points this holiday weekend if you do not do up your seat-belt and you will lose your licence if you are travelling at 61 kmh in a 60 kmh zone at the same time.  And this is considered to be “fair and consistent” from the same Minister who several years ago proudly announced on TV that there would be 2 Demerit Points for playing loud music while driving.” Mr Scruby said.


Harold Scruby - Chairman/CEO – Pedestrian Council of Australia - Tel: (02) 9968-4555   (0418) 110-011

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