Main Roads must immediately halt illegal use of monitoring devices

Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Transport Shane Love MLA has strongly condemned the State Labor Government for its continued unlawful use of traffic monitoring devices throughout WA.

An Auditor General Report has exposed Main Roads WA for utilising 180 vehicle monitoring devices on local roads, despite being fully aware since 2016 that such usage is strictly limited to highways and main roads under the Surveillance Devices Regulations 1999.

Mr Love said the issue represented a significant breach of public trust and demanded an explanation from the Minister for Transport as to why Main Roads had persistently failed to comply with the law.

“In Parliament today, I offered the Minister an opportunity to rectify the use of these unlawful devices,” Mr Love said.

“Regrettably, the Minister not only refused to direct Main Roads to adhere to the law, but also downplayed the severity of this breach of public trust and WA’s surveillance laws.”

Mr Love said it was deeply concerning the Auditor General’s report revealed that these unlawful traffic monitoring devices had the potential to track individuals.

“During a briefing of Opposition Member’s by the Office of the Auditor General, it came to light that Main Roads takes pride in their technology and it’s possible application to aid law enforcement.

“While WA Police have not yet accessed this information, the contentious access to private data through the SafeWA app made it clear WA Police will seek access to any available evidence.

“Given drivers are likely unaware their everyday movements are being monitored by the State Government, and potentially accessible by other agencies, the Minister must apologise for this betrayal of trust and an immediately cease data collection from these devices.”

Main Roads currently gathers Media Access Control (MAC) addresses from devices such as mobile phones and car entertainment units, employing this data to monitor congestion and calculate travel times.

Prior to the Auditor General’s investigation, it was also found MAC addresses collected by Main Roads were being stored for up to 30 days, instead of the expected one-day period.

Mr Love said it was also troubling the Minister claimed to only have become aware of the illegal monitoring within the past 24 hours.

“It is incredulous the Minister for Transport, who has held the portfolio for the past six years, is now claiming ignorance of her own agency’s illicit operations through the entirety of her tenure.

“This raises serious questions about who made the decision to deliberately flout the Surveillance Devices Act and why the Minister was not informed sooner.”