Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery labels $450 bill for speed limit data a 'disgrace'

Too Costly: Sonia Hornery hits out at cost of speed-limit information.
Too Costly: Sonia Hornery hits out at cost of speed-limit information.

Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery says it’s a disgrace that the NSW government has issued a $450 bill for information about a speed limit change on the main route between Wallsend and Lambton.

Ms Hornery sought information used to justify the reduction in the speed limit along Newcastle and Griffiths roads and Thomas Street. She lodged a freedom of information request for the data.

Roads and Maritime Services [RMS] told Ms Hornery that the data would be released for a total of $450. 

Ms Hornery said there was widespread community anger about the speed limit being reduced in March from 70km/h to 60km/h

RMS said in March that the route’s injury crash rate per kilometre was “almost five times higher than the typical rate for an urban arterial road with a 70km/h speed limit”.

“In the five years between July 2011 and June 2016 there were 382 crashes, including 272 injury crashes along this 8.5 kilometre section road,” it said.

But Ms Hornery wanted to know if these accidents were caused by congestion at peak time or by drivers who don’t obey the speed limit

“This information should be made available to the public so they can see what data was used to justify the speed limit reduction,” she said.

“This is yet another example of the government refusing to justify a decision.”

Ms Hornery had sought from the RMS “all documents regarding the review of the speed limit along Thomas Street, Wallsend, Newcastle Road, Jesmond, and Griffiths Road, Lambton, (From October 2017- 30 May 2018)”.

Additionally, she sought “all emails, briefing notes and reports between/provided by Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) to the Minister for Roads or her office regarding the review of the speed limit along Thomas Street, Wallsend, Newcastle Road, Jesmond, and Griffiths Road, Lambton (From October 2017- 30 May 2018)”.

In a letter to Ms Hornery, RMS said: “Under the GIPA Act [Government Information Public Access Act], we may charge $30 per hour”.

“I have searched for the information that you have applied for and I have decided that processing charges for dealing with your application will be required,” an RMS officer said.

“So far, it has taken the business areas involved six hours to search their records to identify the information sought in the terms of your application.

“A significant amount of information has been located. I estimate that identifying relevant records, reviewing them for possible public interest considerations against disclosure, conducting the balancing exercise under the GIPA Act and preparing a decision document will need a further 10 hours of staff time.”