ACT Greens want a payment plan approach to fines

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A BILL tabled by the ACT Greens in the Legislative Assembly today (November 27) could see Canberrans paying for fines in instalments rather than at once. 

Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur.

The Bill amends the “Magistrates Court Act 1930” and “Magistrates Court Regulation 2009” and seeks to provide Canberrans with more payment options in relation to infringement notice offences.

Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur says the amendments will support fines for offences such as not picking up after your dog, riding public transport without paying, or littering. But she says this excludes road traffic and parking offences, as these are dealt with in separate legislation.

If the bill is supported, Canberrans who receive simple offence fines could apply to:

  • Pay their fine in instalments, rather than all at once;
  • Participate in an approved community work or social development plan in lieu of a fine;
  • Have an infringement penalty waived if the nature of the offence and the circumstances justify such a waiver, for example if someone had forgot to tap on prior to boarding the light rail and this was their first offence.

Between July 1, 2017, and October this year, the ACT Greens say a total of 303 infringements fell within the jurisdiction of Transport Canberra and City Services were not paid. Of these, 300 were related to offences under the “Domestic Animals Act 2000”. The other three were under the “Litter Act 2004″ and were cancelled after being reviewed, and replaced with formal warning notices.

“Unfortunately it is not clear why these fines are not being paid, however, it is fair to assume that in many cases it is because people cannot pay them,” Ms Le Couteur says.

“In not paying, they risk prosecution. For those people on low incomes who do pay a fine, this will almost certainly mean sacrificing spending on something else.

“By implementing a ‘fairer fines’ system, we can avoid entrenching poverty in our city, while enforcing our laws and still changing behaviour.”

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