Middle Harbour Primary School - Macpherson Street Cremorne NSW Australia

Following a long campaign, this subsequently became the first 40 kmh schoolzone on a multi-lane arterial road in Australia.  It set the standard for all other schools situated on main roads throughout NSW.  All schools in NSW are now surrounded by 40 kmh schoolzones.  Most states and territories have followed suit.  See history below. 


Parents get their lucky brakes

Sydney Morning Herald

Thursday 9 March 1995

Parents get their lucky brakes - Middle Harbour School - SMH 9 March 1995

Transcript of article above.

Sydney Morning Herald – Thursday 9 March 1995

Parents get their lucky brakes


Campaigners trying to protect the lives of children won a victory yesterday when a temporary speed limit was authorised outside a primary school.

For years, teachers and parents of pupils at Middle Harbour Public School, led by the former Deputy Mayor of Mosman, Mr Harold Scruby, have been concerned for the safety of children crossing busy MacPherson Street.

Worried that a child was going to be injured or killed by cars speeding through a crossing to the school, they have taken on the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), NRMA and the police.

Yesterday morning campaigners, accompanied by the Liberal MP for Willoughby, Mr Peter Collins, took to the streets in a placard-waving protest.

Their quest has been a long one. In 1990, residents asked for a speed camera to be installed near the traffic lights to slow motorists. Police said yes, but were overruled by the RTA and NRMA on the local traffic committee. Mosman Council agreed to pay for the camera, but the answer was still no.

The area was not a “black spot” — no-one had been killed there.

In June last year, Mr Scruby unsuccessfully urged the Minister for Transport, Mr Baird, to create a 40km/h speed zone outside the school during classroom hours, where traffic lights did not deter speeding motorists who often ran the red lights.

But even if a 40km/h zone is placed outside the school, the NSW police are powerless to enforce the speed limit. Mr Brad Hazzard, chairman of Staysafe, the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety, said that under a - Commissioner’s Direction, police can’t operate down-the-line radar units, slant radar units or speed cameras within 200 metres of a speed change — and most school zones are not long enough.

However, Mr Collins said last night that Mr Baird had authorised a 40km/h zone to be established outside Middle Harbour School — on a 12-month trial.

It was also confirmed by the Police Traffic Operations late yesterday that a review of the commissioner’s directions on policing 40km/h zones was under way in school areas throughout the State.

Photo 1: Slow motion … parents and children protest outside Middle Harbour School, Mosman – Photograph by Greg White

Photo 2: Concern … Mr Collins, left, Mr Scruby and Mr Baird

The Mosman Daily - Thursday 15 December 1994 -

Toying with kids’ lives

Letters to the Editor

JUST on four years ago when I was Chairman of the Mosman Traffic Committee, a meeting was held outside the Middle Harbour School in MacPherson St with the local Member Mr Peter Collins, Sergeant Mick Martin of the Police Highway Patrol and representatives of the RTA.

The then headmaster Mr Barry Ruskin (the “Guardian Angel”) was extremely concerned that a child was going to be seriously injured or killed because many vehicles were speeding through this crossing and frequently running the red lights. The children attending this school are aged 12 or under. Children of this age are not able to correctly judge speed and distance. When the lights turn green, they cross the road.

Sgt Martin was also very concerned. He wanted to use the speed camera at this location in order to slow the traffic down. He was overruled by the RTA and NRMA. The reason: it was not a “black spot”. No one had been killed at this location. However, the speed camera was approved at the pedestrian crossing just around the corner in Gerard St because an elderly woman had been killed at this location.

I managed to get council to approve paying for a red-light camera. The RTA refused our offer. “No one had been killed … it didn’t meet the warrants.” Mr Collins pleaded with the RTA to allow the cameras to be used. His attempts fell on deaf ears.

In June this year I wrote to Mr Collins, asking him to apply for a 40km/h speed zone to be put in place outside the school in MacPherson St during school hours. Such zones have been created around most schools in our municipality. Mr Bruce Baird, Minister for Transport and Minister for Roads, wrote back to me stating that he “appreciated the problems caused by increased traffic and excessive speed.”

Unfortunately, there was no mention of a 40km/h zone. Instead he said that the RTA was holding discussions with Mosman and North Sydney Councils with a view to providing: “traffic calming” measures in MacPherson St and Ourimbah Rd to discourage motorists using this route as an alternative route. “Traffic calming” is the RTA’s euphemism for doing nothing.

Let me explain why nothing has been done. The RTA is culturally focussed on vehicular traffic flow, not pedestrians. They are quite happy to allow traffic to be slowed in slow speed streets, but in the streets where vehicles are known to be speeding, that is, where the risks to pedestrians are the highest, they will only act when someone is killed or several people are seriously injured. They are programmed to be re-active, not proactive.

These children are our responsibility. We should not remain silent while faceless bureaucrats play with children’s lives and safety. I look forward to Mr Collins, as one of the most senior politicians in our State, using his influence to overrule these bureaucrats and to ensure that the 40km/h zone is in place before these children return to school next year and that the police are free to use the speed cameras in this location if and when they see fit.

Harold C W Scruby
Grosvenor Street
Neutral Bay

© This work is copyright and is reproduced under licence from News Limited

Bi-directional speed camera finally installed by RTA in February 2003


Speed cameras finally installed February 2003 after a 12-year campaign.

Mosman Daily - Pedestrian Safety Fence at Middle Harbour School - 20 March 2003


RTA - Letter from Paul Forward CE, RTA re school barrier fencing


Middle Harbour School - New pedestrian safety barriers installed by RTA


Failing to see light


Middle Harbour School - May 2008 - RTA installs high visibility, 40kmh, solar-powered, back-to-base, strobing, flashing orange lights, at both ends of the schoolzone in Macpherson Street Cremorne.

See video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G11RG1mHGbM 



More “history” ...

Following persistent and vociferous lobbying by the PCA, the NSW Parliamentary STAYSAFE Committee finally conducted an extensive investigation into schoolzones.  In 2002 they produced Report 53:  “Traffic Control and Safety in the Vicinity of Schools”.


Management systems must include 40 km/h speed restrictions to be applied to roads on all accessible school property boundaries at all schools across New South Wales. (Para. 30, p. 27) “…40 km/h zones surrounding schools incorporating flashing lights to make them more visible to motorists is another point I would like to stress.

Mr Steve James, father of Ella James, extract of Minutes of Evidence taken at Wollongong, 9 April 2001, p.1. [bold emphases added]) …The original guidelines of the Roads and Traffic Authority for 40 km/h speed limits were such that on multilane arterial roads there were to be no 40 km/h speed limits because of concerns about enforcement and the observance of them. We have since retreated from that with the widespread use of the 40 km/h speed limits. They are now well-known in New  South Wales and it is now our policy to provide them on all roads…”  (Mr John Brewer, General  Manager (Road Safety Strategy), Roads and Traffic Authority, extract of Minutes of Evidence taken at Sydney, 14 May 2001, p.16. [bold emphases added]) (END QUOTE).

40 kmh schoolzones now surround ALL schools in NSW.

Most states and territories have followed suit, with the exception of South Australia.  This state continues to cling to what could probably be described as the most ludicrous and potentially lethal law in Australia.  In SA, the speed limit in schoolzones is 25 kmh.  Commendable at first glance until you read the fine print: “when  children are about”.  This means that if the prevailing speed limit outside the school is 80 kmh, motorists can drive at that speed unless they happen to see a child.  A convenient defence in court.  “Oops.  Sorry your Honour.  Didn’t see the little kiddie.  I was driving within the speed limit, but was going too fast to stop in time.”  Not guilty.

We will continue to campaign to have the SA laws brought into line with the rest of Australia.

Apart from the outrageous lunacy of this law, in 1999 the Australian Road Rules were introduced throughout Australia.  They were designed to create consistency and eliminate confusion.  SA must therefore come into line with the rest of Australia.  Unfortunately, some states and territories are still hell-bent on carrying on the Australian tradition of creating as many railway gauges as humanly possible.