Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 23 September 2010) . . Page.. 4428 ..
MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (11.55): The Greens will also be supporting the bill today. We believe that the amendments proposed provide a clearer and more functional suspension system to both the Road Transport Authority and the person whose licence is to be suspended due to non-payment of infringement notices or court imposed fines.
We recognise that the current system is problematic, on the basis that it is dependent on the authority predicting the date on which the offender receives the notice. Whilst Australia Post is almost reliable, it is more desirable to have a system which provides greater certainty around the date where the authority will suspend a licence.
By specifying the exact date in the notice, rather than the notice taking effect in a certain time period after it is served, when the authority is unclear as to when the notice has been received by the offender, it removes the potential for difficulties in enforcement, as outlined in the decision in Davies v Jilbert, where the defendant had charges dismissed over irregularities in the suspension notice.
We believe that it is important to maintain clarity and proper procedure, where the government is to take adverse action against an individual, and we recognise that these changes are needed urgently to maintain the integrity of the enforcement procedures we have in place to ensure payment of infringement notices and penalties. For the reasons outlined, the Greens will be supporting this bill today.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Land and Property Services, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage) (11.56), in reply: I thank members for their contributions. The amendments in this bill affect provisions that have a long history. Section 44 of the Road Transport (General) Act 1999 is based on section 180F of the former Motor Traffic Act 1936. Section 180F was first included in that act in 1991, as part of a scheme for dealing with traffic and parking infringement notices without having to take offenders to court.
The 1991 legislation was conceptually based on 1998 New South Wales legislation. That arose from the assault in jail of a young fine defaulter, Jamie Partlic, who was serving a four-day sentence for unpaid parking fines in November 1987. That assault left Jamie Partlic in a coma, with permanent brain damage. Under the 1991 scheme, people who failed to pay traffic or parking infringement notices would have their drivers licence, vehicle registration and right to drive suspended until they paid. They would no longer be sent to jail for non-payment of traffic or parking fines.
The amendments in the bill are technical in nature. They are aimed at clarifying its intended operation. Their objective is to provide the Road Transport Authority with certainty as to the date on which a licence or registration suspension takes effect, so that it can discharge its statutory obligations to maintain the drivers licence and vehicle registration registers accurately, by including the date on which a suspension for non-payment of an infringement notice, penalty or fine has occurred.