Don’t you love companies with rivers of gold? Like speed and red light cameras.
Well, like Redflex. Listed on the ASX till shareholders meet (virtually of course) on Monday at 9am and vote to give Arizona-based company Verra Mobility a virtual worldwide monopoly on catching motorists going through red lights and speeding and/or speeding through red lights.
Companies like Redflex and Verra don’t like really telling you what they do.
So Verra says: “We enable safer communities by installing, maintaining and managing leading technology solutions that positively impact driver behaviour, enhance road safety and optimise traffic mobility.”
We would say: “We help greedy, rapacious governments who don’t give a stuff about road safety insert their grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, wizened claws deep into your bank account and extract your hard-earned cash and then spend it on critical things like French subs (remember the Rainbow Warrior and Peugeots) at about $10bn a pop; or immersing pollies in NSW in a creative journey to discover the wonderful flavours and unique regions of NSW at the parliamentary dining room where the talented culinary team relishes the opportunity to present exceptional dishes that showcase a wide variety of local delicacies or Beemers (including the armour-plated one for the PM).
So, in one state, NSW, Erin Lyons from our own Daily Telegraph tells us that in February the government took more than $6m in revenue from mobile speed camera fines, which was more than the $5,743,994 worth of fines handed out for the whole of last financial year. What a top effort! I think state governments should be running courses for our business persons on how to increase profits. Here’s how they did it. Step 1: Remove mobile speed camera warning signs. Step 2: Triple the number of hours that speed cameras operate — from 7000 to 20,000 hours each month.
In fact, this rort is so good that our mates at Redflex in South Melbourne boast about it to their investors. Like in December: “Redflex will supply fixed digital road safety cameras to the state for the West Gate tunnel project” and “further growth in recurring revenue expected in the second half this year as new programs in the US become fully operational and expansion of mobile speed deployments in NSW, Australia”.
Washington not-for-profit blog TheNewspaper.com provides objective information about the politics of driving. Thankfully for us, they have a special focus on red light and speed camera enforcement. Here’s their take on the Verra Redlex takeover: “Redflex management would benefit greatly from approval of the deal. CEO Mark J. Talbot, for example, would enjoy a payout of $3.6m — though approval of the merger is far from guaranteed. As with past attempts to sell Redflex, the ultimate fate of the proposal rests in the hands of major shareholders like former Redflex chief Christopher Cooper who, along with his wife, controls 20.8 per cent of the company’s stock. Cooper holds a grudge after being forced out as Redflex chairman in a 2009 shareholder revolt. He only needs to convince investors with a 4.2 per cent stake to agree with him.
“Verra does not believe that will happen, as the company has already lined up enough cash to complete the $113m deal by refinancing its $1bn debt. If the deal goes through, Verra Mobility would likely eliminate the Redflex brand, which has been tarnished by ethical lapses that sent its executives to prison.”
Here’s the thing. Despite taking the stick approach and belting motorists with big fines, road deaths have stayed roughly the same for 10 years. And despite COVID (the virus that will kill us all in the next three years, so no need to buy an electric car), the road toll in 2020 was only a bit lower than in 2019.
Talking of safety, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications has recalled 1541 Land Rover Discoverys (2019 to 2021) “because they may exhibit a range of electrical faults, including cutting out while being driven and losing all electrical power, which could increase the risk of an accident that may result in death or injury to vehicle occupants and other road users”. Could this mean there is hope for Range Rover drivers whose cars run the real risk of burning to the ground being recalled? Nah. Just kidding you.
This week’s photo of the 2015 Porker 918 Spyder (buy online now for a mill or so at Dave Gooding’s auction) is the same one I mentioned last week but stupidly showed you a pic of a kiddies Jag that shouldn’t catch fire. But I do want to point out that you’re still a chance for a serious 1993 Porker 968 Turbo S with a sensational Blutorange paint job and only 64,000km on the clock, if you have a lazy $1.5m. I know. I know. I have recommended 968s in the past. Yes, you can still buy one for $15k but you’ll pay $60k for a half good one and well over $100k for one you’d want to take home. Mr Porker planned to build 100 of these but they were faster and handled better than the more expensive 911 Turbo. So with his bonus in mind, he had the factory stop at 14 cars. They go to 100km/h in less than five seconds and the Redflex speed camera will catch you at 280km/h.
Talking of 280km/h, you won’t be seeing that from your WART team in the Sydney 300 next Saturday at Eastern Creek or at Lakeside Park the following weekend. The old bloke is staying put in Adelaide but race coach to the stars Phil Alexander will be sharing what’s left of the wheel in our MX-5 with me.
In more interesting racing news, Aboriginal beach volleyball champion Taliqua Clancy will help mentor members of Australia’s first Indigenous motor-racing team. The Racing Together team has 10 teens building and running a Hyundai Excel with hopes of extending the program in Queensland and the Northern Territory.