Ministerial Statement - Hon Corey Wingard MP

I rise to address the House on an important issue of community and road Safety.

On 19 July 2018, Justice Peek in the Supreme Court published three decisions relating to the presumption that a speed detection device is accurate in the absence of proof to the contrary.

The Supreme Court decided in these three specific cases, that the presumption allowing the certificate to be used in court had been contradicted and therefore South Australia Police was not allowed to use the evidentiary certificate as proof that the device was accurate and had been tested prior to its use.

These decisions are not questioning whether or not the laser speed detection devices are capable of accurately measuring a vehicle’s speed or whether the devices were used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

From the outset, I make it very clear that SAPOL has no reason to question the accuracy of the laser devices.

The cases deal with a complex legal question about how speeding charges based on detection by laser speed devices are proven in court to the degree that the court can be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the person’s vehicle was travelling at the speed at which police allege it was.

On the afternoon 20 July 2018 my office was advised that SAPOL was satisfied that the tests that are conducted by police, in addition to other available evidence, would satisfy courts beyond reasonable doubt that the laser speed detection devices accurately detect speeding vehicles.

Since the date of the judgments, SAPOL has sought both detailed legal advice from the Crown Solicitor and advice from persons with technical qualifications who could provide the necessary evidence to remedy the court’s concern.

As a result of legal advice, SAPOL did not appeal the decisions.

SAPOL met with Crown Solicitors and continued to explore the work around options for the certificate.

On being informed that legislation that would be the only solution to this problem and that the LIDARs would be temporally withdrawn, my office has worked closely with SAPOL to ensure a speedy resolution by way of legislative reform.

I therefore advise of my intention to introduce a bill on the next sitting day to amend section 175 of the Road Traffic Act 1961.

This amendment will bring South Australia into line with interstate jurisdictions.

Again, I stress, that SAPOL does not consider the devices unreliable, rather the evidentiary requirement has proven more complex than anticipated.

I urge ALL members of this House to support the smooth passage of this bill. 

This is an issue of community and road safety importance and what we need to do here is have that as a primary consideration.

In the judgments, Justice Peak left open the possibility that SAPOL could return to an earlier method of daily testing traffic speed analysers for accuracy, by testing devices against a police vehicle with a calibrated speedometer.

Reintroduction of a ‘run through’ procedure would arguably satisfy the evidentiary requirement, but the practice has been discounted as it is complex and resource intensive and would add a further convoluted spoke to the evidentiary requirements.

Whilst SAPOL have today announced a temporary withdrawal of hand-held speed detection lasers, there are other available methods of speed detection that will be continue to be enforced.

In an operational sense, police officers will continue to use radar-based speed detection devices, mobile speed cameras, and will continue to target ‘operations’ to high risk crash/speed areas. 

I also advise the house that to ensure transparency SAPOL has authorised the discontinuance of 42 Lidar related court matters and instructed that no further matters are to be laid, until the evidentiary package is settled.

I am advised that if prosecutions were to be pursued through non-legislative reform methods, the cost of future trials in terms of expenditure and resources will be significant.

Speeding fines which have been issued as a result of detection by a static speed camera, a hand-held radar device or red light camera, are not impacted by this decision.

Anyone who is in receipt of an infringement notice should ensure they read the options which are printed on it, and take further legal advice if required.

It is critical to note at this point that SAPOL strongly believe the accuracy and functionality of the Lidar as a speed detection device is not in question.

Again, I stress to all members, the focus now for all of us, is to ensure that these devices are back out in use as soon as possible to ensure SAPOL has the maximum suite of speed detection devices which directly result on reducing death and serious injury on our roads. Our primary concern is, and will remain, road safety. 


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