Page 156 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 13 February 2008

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declining enrolments.” Mr Pratt understood the clear language which the minister for education used. Mr Pratt understands clearly, stands by what he says and has the graciousness to express agreement with government policies. It beggars belief that Mr Pratt is now the only member of the seven-member Liberal team that came into this place who has not been trialled in the leadership. Why is it that Mr Pratt, the only member of the Liberal Party who gets it, is the only member of the Liberal Party who has not been given a go in the top job?

Parking—outstanding fines

MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Treasurer. The Auditor-General’s report into the collection of fees and fines reveals that for the period 1 July 2006 to 12 March 2007 some $987,075 in traffic infringement penalties was owed to the ACT by interstate drivers, of which 60 per cent was unlikely to be recovered. In addition, almost half of the $2.2 million in outstanding parking fines relates to unidentifiable interstate drivers. This is apparently compounded by the absence of cross-border agreements to compel interstate motorists to pay such fines.

Treasurer, how long have you been aware of this issue? Why has your government failed to secure cross-border arrangements to stop interstate motorists escaping paying fees for traffic and parking offences?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank the member for Molonglo for the question. I cannot be exactly precise about when I first became aware of this particular issue and the nature of this problem, but I would say it was probably early in 1998, when I entered this place and became shadow Attorney-General. I became shadow Attorney-General in 1998 and endured four years of Liberal government. Through those four years of Liberal government the difficulties that jurisdictions face in relation to unpaid fines, particularly by interstate drivers, was an issue that was raised every year.

I cannot be precisely sure when I first became aware that it is a major issue, Mr Mulcahy, but I would say it was almost certainly in 1998 in my first year in opposition. In that time, of course, I was also shadow Attorney-General and I paid close attention to these particular issues. Mr Humphries, now Senator Humphries, was the Attorney-General at the time. Perhaps if one went back to the Hansard, one would be able to confirm when this issue was first raised.

Through four years of Liberal government I have no doubt that as we pursued our responsibilities as an opposition we raised with the government of the day what we could do about the fact that interstate drivers coming into the ACT would park illegally, get the ticket on the window, whip off back to Sydney or Melbourne and you would never see them again. And vice versa, of course. Heaven forbid that any ACT driver visiting Sydney or Melbourne would act in such a crass, unlawful and unsocial way as not to pay their dues in relation to their illegal or other activities interstate.

It is a problem that bedevils every jurisdiction in Australia. It is a major issue. Perhaps the suggestion that you make, Mr Mulcahy, in relation to the possibility of interstate or cross-border agreements on this is something that might be more vigorously pursued. It is often suggested, “Why don’t you sool the police onto them? Why, when

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