Page 6044 - Week 18 - Thursday, 12 December 1991

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MR CONNOLLY (Attorney-General, Minister for Housing and Community Services and Minister for Urban Services) (4.01): Madam Temporary Deputy Speaker, I present the Motor Traffic (Amendment) Bill (No. 3) 1991. I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

This Bill amends the Motor Traffic Act 1936 and, in conjunction with the Magistrates Court (Amendment) Bill (No. 3) 1991, which I am shortly to introduce, provides for fine default for traffic infringement notices. This initiative will replace the ultimate sanction for non-payment of traffic fines - namely, a gaol term - with a more appropriate penalty. That penalty will be cancellation of an individual's licence or registration.

Traffic infringement notices were introduced in 1983 and are issued by the police for less serious offences such as speeding, not wearing a seat belt, not stopping at a give-way sign, not wearing a motorcycle helmet, and so on. The introduction of fine default for traffic infringement notices is an extension of the scheme currently operating for parking infringement notices. Non-payment of traffic fines will result, initially, in a warning letter being issued and the imposition of an administrative fee.

Failure to pay the total amount owing after a set time will result in either the cancellation of the individual's licence or, if the offender is licensed outside the ACT and the vehicle that that person was driving is registered in the ACT, the cancellation of the registration of that vehicle. If the offender is neither licensed nor registered in the ACT, that person's right to drive in the ACT will be suspended. Offenders can still appeal to the Magistrates Court if they wish to dispute liability.

Responsibility for the collection of moneys for traffic fines will be transferred from the Australian Federal Police to the Department of Urban Services, with fines being paid to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles through various collection points. This initiative will considerably streamline payment procedures and avoid processing multiple transactions. With this initiative being similar to that already in place in New South Wales, there are possibilities for future reciprocal arrangements which may allow unpaid ACT fines to lead to the loss of a New South Wales licence and vice versa.

I believe that the ACT community will support the introduction of this legislation, as there is a general perception that the loss of an individual's licence or registration is a more appropriate penalty for non-payment

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