Democracy and speed cameras

By Andrew L. Urban

It’s encouraging to see that people do participate in democracy when given a chance. And just as gradual, almost invisible erosion of democratic principles is as dangerous as large scale trampling of those principles, so is it true in reverse. Quotidian issues of our lives matter as much as ideology and political freedom when it comes to the maintenance of democracy.

On July 27, 2011, Peter Achterstraat, Auditor-General of New South Wales, released his report Improving Road Safety: Safety Cameras, following the Barry O’Farrell-led Government’s call for an assessment of which cameras were actually contributing to road safety and which were just a slug on motorists.

In his report, Achterstraat praised the public “for their input in this important review of speed cameras. Over 1,700 people responded to his public request for information on the speed cameras that most concern them, some with detailed comments both for and against cameras.”

It’s a commendable exercise by the newly elected NSW Government, and it’s reassuring that citizens are not so soured and cynical about democracy inAustraliaas to ignore this opportunity to have a say. Participatory democracy along these lines should be encouraged and extended. The value of this process is that it was not a simplistic yes/no poll but a calibrated and nuanced survey, which not only gave participants a sense of trust and satisfaction but gave the results weight.


Auditor General’s report,July 27, 2011

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