Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1117 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
But there happens to be a very significant problem with the suggestion which Mr Stanhope has made and which is contained in his amendments to the legislation, that is, the way that the figures work out. The Government expects, on the best estimates available to it, based on the experience with a similar reform that was undertaken in Western Australia recently, to recover an additional $70,000 per annum in outyears from this measure to improve methods of fine recovery through the fine default package. I am advised, again based on the Western Australian experience, that, if we were to insert a community service order layer in the system as proposed by Mr Stanhope, we would anticipate in the order of 400 community service orders being made each year under these arrangements. The cost of administering an additional 400 community service orders in the ACT each year would be something like $170,000. Mr Speaker, you do not have to be a financial wizard to realise that there is not much point in moving a package of financial reforms like this to create - - -
Mr Berry: So, it is the cost that led to the change of heart on CSOs?
MR HUMPHRIES: Yes, it is, Mr Berry. In answer to your interjection, yes, it is. I would like to do what you have suggested, but to do it would cost us more than we would save. In other words, rather than this measure saving us $70,000 a year, it would cost us $100,000 a year. I am very happy to approach this issue from a different angle at some point in the future, but I will not support a measure which will actually reverse the very thrust of this legislation. This legislation is about saving the community money in outstanding fine default. To take these amendments forward would actually cost us money.
Ms Tucker: Would it stop people going to gaol?
MR HUMPHRIES: No, it would not, because the people who reach this stage, Mr Speaker, are very often people who have shown a great reluctance to comply with their obligations under the law.
Ms Tucker: So, they would not take a community service order rather than gaol?
MR HUMPHRIES: Many people would not comply with a community service order and would go to gaol, but some would. I should point out to members that, historically, a number of people have looked for some alternative means of wiping out their debt rather than actually reaching into their wallets and forking over the money. It is quite common in other jurisdictions for people to serve a term in gaol to wipe out a debt that they incurred. They say to themselves, "Rather than paying the $600, I will do three days in gaol". Actually, it is more than that; I think it is $25 for each day.
Mr Rugendyke: It is $100 a day.
MR HUMPHRIES: It is $100 a day, is it? I defer to Mr Rugendyke's knowledge on this. So, if you owed $600, you would do six days in gaol and wipe out your debt. For some people, that is a quite attractive alternative. Some people, I am told, actually do it as an alternative to paying the money. If an option of a community service order were