Inaccuracies with Victoria's new speed cameras may have resulted in motorists across the state being fined incorrectly, with more than 200,000 incidents under review.
The T-Series mobile cameras, which can detect speed across six lanes and book multiple drivers at once, are being reviewed by the road safety camera commissioner after camera operators reported major problems with the high-tech devices.
The T-Series Mobile in-vehicle camera detects speed across six lines.Credit:Sensys Gatso Group
Camera operators, who say they were not adequately trained to control the cameras, are set to vote for industrial action over a pay dispute with private contractor Serco.
The operators could turn on the hazard lights of mobile speed camera vehicles to alert the public to their presence and place signs on the roadside to mark their locations if they proceed with industrial action.
Since the cameras were deployed in December 2019, operators have complained about software faults, GPS failures and obscured registration plates. One of the technical faults, the so-called "double-doppler" effect, records vehicles with long wheel-bases, like buses or trucks, at faster speeds than they are actually travelling.
The Community and Public Sector Union said a truck had been clocked at more than 110km/h when it had been recorded travelling about 65km/h half a second beforehand.
"We have been advised the issues could be widespread," Karen Batt, the union's state secretary, said. "Operators indicated there were problems around configuration and calibration and that was going to cause some significant accuracy concerns for any speed fines that may arise."
Road Safety Camera Commissioner Stephen Leane, a former Victoria Police assistant commissioner, launched a review into the cameras, manufactured by Swedish-based Sensys Gatso Group, in March. The results of the investigation and recommendations will be handed to Police Minister Lisa Neville in the next four weeks, Mr Leane's office said.
A spokeswoman for the commissioner's office said only one infringement had been overturned in the investigation so far, due to the "double-doppler" effect, and the review was ongoing. More than 200,000 traffic incidents are being probed.
Victorian Police said it was "confident" all speeding fines were legitimately issued.
"All infringements captured by the mobile speed cameras go through a vigorous review process by both the external agency responsible for operating the cameras, as well as police," a police spokesman said.
The T-Series cameras were purchased as part of a $120 million Andrews government program to expand the state's speed monitoring network by 75 per cent.
Camera operators claim they were not adequately trained to use the cameras and fear being blamed for faulty readings that lead to wrongly-issued fines. It is one of the reasons, along with various pay demands, operators may walk off the job in a looming industrial dispute with the company contracted to operate the cameras.
Ms Batt said Serco Asia Pacific, owned by $2 billion British public service provider Serco Citizen Services, had refused to grant workers a pay rise for years and were offering a new deal with zero-hour contracts that failed to address work-life balance issues and meant some workers would have salaries cut.
After negotiations with the union broke down, Serco put its proposal to workers without union support. About 80 per cent of members rejected the deal and the union says Serco has not re-engaged in talks. The results of a ballot of members to decide whether to launch industrial action, expected to be resoundingly approved, are due imminently.
"This has a huge impact. How can you plan to pay your rent and buy your food if your roster for a fortnight is zero hours? You don't get paid," Ms Batt said.
"The Premier stands up and talks about the need to reduce insecure work … but we have a contractor to the state government trying to force zero-hour contracts on their staff."
A Serco spokesman said the company was offering to meet the union on Monday to resume negotiations. "Our proposed agreement put to staff included pay increases and recognised a number of other claims," he said.
"During the negotiations we have listened to, and provided responses to, all union claims. Our preference is to resolve the remaining issues through negotiation and discussion which we will continue to do."
Ms Batt said her union was working with the peak body for Victorian unions, Trades Hall Council, to develop procurement guidelines that stipulate a company's health and safety and industrial records are adequately considered before it is awarded government contracts.
"There needs to be a hard look at how Serco are treating their staff [with regard to] the way the government expects its own workforce to be treated," she said.
A Victorian government spokeswoman said speed camera operators played a key role in road safety and that industrial disputes were a matter for Serco and its staff.
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