Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 2 Hansard (22 February) . . Page.. 560..
Road Transport (General) (Infringement Notices) Amendment Bill 2012
Ms Bresnan, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.
Title read by Clerk.
MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (10.16): I move:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
I present to the Assembly the Road Transport (General) (Infringement Notices) Amendment Bill 2012 and explanatory statement. This is a bill about improving social justice outcomes in the ACT. It is a bill to ensure that the ACT's system of traffic infringement administration takes account of the circumstances of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. It recognises the potentially devastating impact that a traffic fine—and licence suspension due to a failure to pay a fine—can have on people's lives.
The bill makes amendments to road transport legislation that will prevent Canberra's most vulnerable individuals and families from being subjected to harsh and unjust outcomes through their engagement with the ACT's system of traffic fine administration. In addition, the changes proposed in the bill are expected to reduce the number of people who drive while their licence is suspended and increase the number of people who engage with the fine system. Ultimately this will increase the amount of owed fines that are recovered.
The current system of traffic infringement administration is inflexible about the circumstances of disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the ACT. These include people with low incomes, disabilities, substance abuse issues or homelessness. ACT community groups have raised concerns about the serious consequences the system is having on vulnerable Canberrans. Recently an ACT magistrate was reported as describing the existing system as "a sledgehammer approach"that is "creating a lot of injustice".
Traffic infringements include a wide range of offences. They are offences such as speeding, failing to stop at a red light, and parking illegally. In the ACT, if a person fails to meet time limits to pay a fine, their drivers licence is automatically suspended. It cannot be reinstated until the fine is paid in full. I emphasise that this is not a suspension because of a serious traffic infringement; rather, it is a suspension that results because a fine has not been paid.
Fines are not always able to be paid on time. Some people in Canberra face unemployment, illness, homelessness, disability or other difficult circumstances. For some people, paying a fine would prevent them from being able to afford basic essentials such as food or rent.
Many people do not realise how hard it can be for some people to pay fines in a short time. Consider a person who receives a speeding fine for driving more than