Page 4596 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 27 November 2019
In 2017 the Canberra Times reported that a Justice and Community Safety Directorate spokeswoman said that the government was considering reforms to strengthen the system, including stronger measures to follow up on non-payment. She went on to note that this work “will also address the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged people who may have received infringements”. This work may have been conducted or it may not have been. We have not been able to find out about this. It has proven very difficult to get a clear picture of who has responsibility for what when it comes to administering infringement notices. We have asked unsuccessfully for a number of briefings on the subject.
What we do know is that the Magistrates Court provides a broad framework for infringement notices that are issued based on offences contained in a raft of different acts. We also know that the Chief Minister supports the infringement system as it stands for traffic and parking offences. On 28 November 2018, the Assembly passed a Greens motion which called for, amongst other things, the government to investigate the potential for introducing income-based infringement notices. The government responded on 22 August 2019.
In tabling this response, the Chief Minister praised the current approach to managing infringements with parking or other motor vehicle offences. He noted that payment plans assist Canberrans on low or fixed incomes to give, “plenty of scope for people to pay off infringements in a manageable way that will not overburden family budgets”. Regarding community work or social development programs, the Chief Minister told the Assembly, “There are some great examples of programs that see people give back to our community or help them develop useful life skills, like better household budgeting while reducing their liability for infringements”.
Our colleagues in the community sector also endorse this approach. I have been in touch with Canberra Community Law and Care Inc, both of whom believe that the infringement notice management system has worked well for traffic and parking offences and should be extended to cover all infringement notice offences. If the government is able to apply payment plans, community work and development programs for the payment of traffic and parking fines, it should surely be able to cope administratively with treating the offences covered by the Magistrates Court Act in the same way.
Madam Speaker, I do not believe this bill is controversial. It simply seeks to build on the success of an existing scheme by providing a clear and consistent framework for managing infringement notice offences, regardless of what directorate or what part of the government is responsible. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Ramsay) adjourned to the next sitting.
Human Rights (Workers Rights) Amendment Bill 2019
Ms Cody, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.
Title read by Clerk.