Page 4954 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 28 November 2018

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(b) the ACT Government has put in place a work and development program, so that those who may not be able to pay a fine are able to undertake activities such as community service, financial counselling or drug and alcohol treatment in lieu of paying their fine – however, low income workers without a Federal Government concession card can miss out;

(c) several countries internationally are investigating or introducing income-based fines, for example:

(i) the United Kingdom allows judges’ discretion to adjust fines for traffic matters that go to court based on income; and

(ii) Finland charges traffic fines using a formula based on the person’s daily disposable income; and

(d) the Australia Institute has investigated how this principle could be applied in Australia and has identified that it would be a fairer approach; and

(4) calls on the ACT Government to expand and improve its support for low income Canberrans by:

(a) investigating the potential of income-based fines for the ACT, including consultation with stakeholders such as community legal services;

(b) helping low income property owners by:

(i) writing to all residential rate payers who get a concession by 28 February 2019 to advise them of the rates deferments available;

(ii) including information about rates concessions, deferments and hardship arrangements on all residential rates notices issued after 30 June 2019;

(iii) redesigning the rates notice to ensure people understand that they can still pay quarterly;

(iv) providing training for Revenue Office call centre staff by 30 June 2019 in how to recognise customers suffering from financial hardship, what help they may be eligible for, and who they can be referred to for further support – with other staff that support customers to be trained subsequently; and

(v) publishing the criteria used by the Revenue Office to determine who is eligible for hardship assistance, including providing easy-to-read material on the relevant government website, by 28 February 2019;

(c) helping organisations that advocate for lower income Canberrans by improving the cost of living statement in future Budget Papers by including a broader range of vulnerable households and providing time series data similar to the 2018-19 Budget’s “Socio Economic Analysis on Taxation and Concessions Policy”;

(d) approaching the Federal Government and other states and territories, for example through the Council of Australian Governments, about opportunities for states and territories to access Federal Government information to help with providing concessions to people on lower incomes; and

(e) reporting back on these issues by the last sitting day in August 2019.

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