Rollout of mobile phone detection cameras faces delay… and budget blowout

Thursday 14 December, 2023

Mobile phone detection cameras (MPDC) - to deter dangerous driving amid one of South Australia’s worst road tolls in two decades - will be delayed and not fully functional until March 2025 following impacts to the “project’s critical path”.

The delay was revealed in questions on notice returned to the Opposition following SAPOL’s appearance in Budget and Finance Committee in late September.

Despite claims from the Malinauskas Labor Government that MPDC’s would be operational in early 2024, the new documents show DIT’s procurement process remains “in progress”.

A new Expiation Management System (EMS) - which underpins the technology used by the MPDC’s - will “not be completed by the current contracted date of December 2023” which will have “schedule delays impacting the ‘Go Live’ date” of the new road safety initiative.

“The original project budget of $7.7m will be impacted given the delays and the introduction of new expert resources”, the documents say.

Shadow Minister for Road Safety, Vincent Tarzia, said the delay - which could stretch out by more than a year - is a huge blow to efforts to boost road safety.

“South Australians are losing their lives on our roads at a record rate, and we need every possible tool available to protect motorists, so news that Labor won’t deliver mobile phone detection cameras on time as promised is disappointing,” Mr Tarzia said.

“SAPOL data shows that South Australian drivers commit about 7,600 mobile phone offences per year - and we know distraction is a ‘fatal five’ offence alongside drink and drug driving, speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, and dangerous driving.

“We need mobile phone detection cameras up and running as soon as possible and we need answers from Police Minister Joe Szakacs who promised the cameras would be ready ‘for operation as scheduled in early 2024’.

“The Opposition is also calling on Joe Szakacs to release the results of the review into the MPDC trial which began seven months ago in May.

“We need to know how effective the cameras were during the trial and how many drivers were cautioned for using a mobile phone while driving.”