Page 1341 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 April 2013
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (11.47), in reply: I thank members for their support of this bill.
The bill we are debating today will help low income individuals and families in our community to manage their traffic and parking infringement penalties more easily. The bill supports options that allow people new ways to discharge their infringement liability, making structured payments and in certain circumstances completing community work or participating in a program of personal development.
These options were introduced in legislation passed by the previous Assembly in 2012. That legislation had a commencement date of 24 May this year. This was in recognition of the substantive additional detailed work that would be required to provide a detailed framework for the practical implementation of the new options.
An important feature of the bill is the introduction of a new mechanism for consolidating multiple traffic and parking infringement penalties into an infringement notice management plan. Such a plan covers the way in which an applicant will discharge their liability for their infringement penalties. It does this by combining the liability to pay each penalty separately into a single debt.
Consolidating penalties is an approach taken to similar arrangements in other states and territories. For example, it is the approach used by the New South Wales State Debt Recovery Office. It is an efficient way to manage the new instalment payment scheme. As well as being administratively efficient, it can help people to keep track of all of their debts.
While many people are able to pay infringement penalties in full when they are due for payment, or following the receipt of a reminder notice, some people in our community do struggle to pay the amount in full at one time. Until now there has been very limited scope to provide for flexible payment arrangements. The introduction of these new arrangements will enable payment by regular instalments, which should assist the vast majority of those in financial hardship to manage their debts. Typically, in other jurisdictions which have similar options in place for payment of penalties and fines, most people in financial hardship opt for an instalment payment arrangement.
For people who cannot pay by instalments, the new options which were adopted by the Assembly last year include the ability to apply to undertake community work or a social development program to discharge the liability. The person’s liability would be discharged at an agreed rate for each hour worked or for the periods of time the person is engaged in treatment or counselling. An application for a work or development program must be supported by the provider of that approved program.
Like the New South Wales work and development order arrangements put in place a few years ago, the ACT provisions have been directed at assisting those in acute financial hardship or who are affected by other circumstances, including a physical or mental illness, a disability, alcohol or drug addiction, domestic violence or homelessness. These are the factors that can significantly impact on the capacity of a