The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (14:09): I seek leave to make a ministerial statement.
The Hon. C.L. WINGARD: I rise to address the house on an important issue of community 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 were not allowed to use the evidentiary certificate as proof that the device was accurate and had been tested prior to its use.
From the outset, I want to make it very clear that SAPOL has no reason to question the accuracy of the laser devices. These decisions are not questioning whether or not the laser speed detection devices are capable of accurately measuring a vehicle speed or whether the devices were used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. The Supreme Court cases deal with a complex legal question about how speeding charges, based on detection by laser speed devices (Lidars), 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 of 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 judgements, SAPOL has sought both detailed legal advice from the Crown 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informed that legislative change would be the only solution to this problem and that the Lidars would be temporarily withdrawn, my office has worked closely with SAPOL to ensure a speedy resolution by way of legislative reform.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 day of sitting to amend section 175 of the Road Traffic Act 1961. This amendment will bring South Australia in 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 the house to support the smooth passage of this bill. It is an issue of community road safety importance, and what we need to do here is to have that as our primary consideration. In the judgements, Justice Peek 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.
The 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 complication to the evidentiary requirements. While SAPOL has today announced the temporary withdrawal of handheld speed detection lasers, there are other available methods of speed detection that will continue to be enforced. In an operation sense, police officers will continue to use radar-based speed detection devices and 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 Lidar-related court matters and instructed that no further matters are to be laid in court 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 would be significant.
Speeding fines issued as a result of detection by a static speed camera, a handheld radar device or red-light camera are not impacted by this decision. Anyone who is in receipt of an infringement notice should ensure that they read the options printed on it and seek further legal advice, if required. It is critical to note at this point that SAPOL strongly believes that the accuracy and functionality of the Lidar as a speed detection device are not in question.
Again, I stress to all members that the focus now for all of us is to ensure that these devices are back out in use as soon as possible to ensure that SAPOL has the maximum suite of speed detection devices that directly lead to a reduction in death and serious injury on our roads. Our primary concern is and always will remain road safety.