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Greens want more social justice in traffic fines

By 22 February 2012 45

The Greens’ Amanda Bresnan has announced she’s going to try and legislate more payment options for the badly driving poor:

Greens Transport Spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan MLA, said that the current system of traffic fine administration was resulting in harsh and unjust outcomes for Canberra’s most vulnerable individuals and families.

“It has been described as a ‘sledgehammer approach’, and the fact is that it is ruining people’s lives,” said Ms Bresnan.

“The current system provides very limited payment options. Failure to pay a traffic fine in the time limit results in automatic licence suspension. For people who are on a low income or suffering from other disadvantage, the spiralling impacts of this can be devastating.

“Disadvantaged and vulnerable people often rely on their drivers licence to access employment, income, support, and housing. Once their licence is fine suspended, it can be virtually impossible to repay the fine and reobtain the licence.

“The reality is that in Canberra we have people who are losing their employment, their income and their housing as a result of an inflexible traffic fine system.

“The Greens’ legislation makes sensible amendments to make the system more fair and flexible, with new payment options and opportunities for provisional reinstatement of fine-suspended licences while fines are being paid.

I was not expecting the Greens to be entrenching the idea that driving is a right.

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45 Responses to Greens want more social justice in traffic fines
#31
EvanJames2:47 pm, 22 Feb 12

I-filed said :

… (preceding excellent stuff snipped) … A prominent “Not to be booked” label on the car, and a similar card for the driver (who may well not possess a driver’s licence and be vulnerable to further disadvantage). Police should be instructed not to book low-income people.

Superb, but careful, they might take that as a suggestion and try to implement it.

I really wish the Greens would focus on some real social justice issues, not this nonsense that doesn’t help anyone, particularly the “disadvantaged”.

#32
Watson2:48 pm, 22 Feb 12

Do traffic fines include parking fines too? Because it sh!ts me to tears that they would suspend my licence if I fail to pay a parking fine. Unless me forgetting to put money in the meter is likely to endanger someone, I fail to see a link between parking and licence.

#33
devils_advocate2:50 pm, 22 Feb 12

harvyk1 said :

All that is being said is that someone who is unlucky enough to be caught doing something which most Canberrans I would guess do most days, intentionally or otherwise, is not put in a position of financial hardship. I don’t see this as a blank slate for the less well off to drive like f-n idiots, it’s just in the event that you are in such a position, you have an amount of time to pay up which will not cause undue hardship compared to someone who is more well off.

1) if someone is saying that everyone who does the crime should face the same penalty, then it’s not a soapbox, because by implication they are saying that if they themselves are caught, they should have to pay.

2) the arrangements are already in place to allow people extra time to pay and the police administer them very generously. If you’re really in trouble, you can ask for extra time to contest the fine first, THEN extra time to pay on top of that, and they’ll give it to you.

Unless you are suggesting that people get their incomes garnished or be allowed to repay the debt using homebrew and weed as currency.

#34
rhino3:03 pm, 22 Feb 12

Watson said :

Do traffic fines include parking fines too? Because it sh!ts me to tears that they would suspend my licence if I fail to pay a parking fine. Unless me forgetting to put money in the meter is likely to endanger someone, I fail to see a link between parking and licence.

Strongly agree. No logical link there. The only reason is obviously they want some big threat to hold over you to make you pay the fines so that they can get their money. At the very least you should not be able to use your licence so quickly. Only a few months overdue and they give you short notice of your licence being cancelled soon. Often these fines can be for being parked 2 minutes too long at a meter. Hardly deserving of losing your licence over.

#35
Mysteryman3:22 pm, 22 Feb 12

harvyk1 said :

There is nothing I love more than the high and mighty on their soapboxes.

Are you all telling me that you all never go 1km/h over the posted speed limit, you always do 40km/h at roadworks, and that when switching from a 100km/h zone to an 80km/h zone you are doing exactly 80km/h as you reach the sign and never let the speed go down simply by coasting your car?

Furthermore are you all also telling me that you never run orange lights \ use a mobile phone whilst driving? Finally are you all also telling me that you never tailgate or do anything else which is likely to count as dangerous driving (eg swerving between lanes?).

Because only if you can stand here with your hand on your heart and state you’ve never done any of the above since the dawn of time do you deserve that place on the soapbox judging others bad driving.

However knowing how bad most Canberra drivers are when it comes to doing these things above, I can’t believe that all soapbox responses are from people with perfect driving records?

All that is being said is that someone who is unlucky enough to be caught doing something which most Canberrans I would guess do most days, intentionally or otherwise, is not put in a position of financial hardship. I don’t see this as a blank slate for the less well off to drive like f-n idiots, it’s just in the event that you are in such a position, you have an amount of time to pay up which will not cause undue hardship compared to someone who is more well off.

WTF are you talking about? Did you actually read any of the posts? Nobody suggested that they are prefect drivers, or that they never make mistakes. What was said, repeatedly, was that if you break the rules then you should be forced to pay the fine regardless of your means. And, if you are of limited means and unlikely to be able to afford a fine, then you should be driving more cautiously.

And the idea that you have to be “unlucky” to get caught is garbage. We all know the rules before we get our licences. You get caught because you broke the rules, not because you’re “unlucky”.

It really wasn’t that hard to understand.

#36
rhino3:27 pm, 22 Feb 12

rhino said :

Watson said :

Do traffic fines include parking fines too? Because it sh!ts me to tears that they would suspend my licence if I fail to pay a parking fine. Unless me forgetting to put money in the meter is likely to endanger someone, I fail to see a link between parking and licence.

Edit: At the very least you should not be able to LOSE your licence so quickly.

#37
spiderinsider6:52 pm, 22 Feb 12

If you read the link from the press release you’ll notice that the legislation is designed to allow people to pay fines ) by instalments or through community service, rather than having to pay the full amount in one payment. This is something every other state and territory in Australia allows. It’s not about reducing the amount of the fine.

The thing is, if you’re on a low income, stumping up the full amount of a fine is going to be a lot harder than if your income is higher. And if you don’t pay the fine, your licence is automatically suspended. So if you need a car to get to work, you may well lose your job. And if you lose your job, you may well not be able to pay the rent/mortgage, and may then lose your house.

Sure, no one should drive in such a way that they break the law. But if they do, it seems a bit pernicious to have a system that means that some people end up jobless and/or homeless simply because they weren’t able to pay the fine in instalments.

Oh, and yes, you can lose your licence through failure to pay a parking fine. And what’s even better is that if you lose your licence through drink driving, you can apply for a special licence so you can continue to get to work etc. There’s no equivalent provision if you lose your licence because you couldn’t afford to pay a parking fine.

#38
bigred6:53 pm, 22 Feb 12

big issue here is that the speed cameras etc have proven to be an artificial windfall becausethe fines are going uncollected. This means they have become an uncollected receivable on the balance sheet. So Government is trying more and more ways to collect the money, including cancelling licences. Trouble here is it does nothing to stop the swill from driving.

Social justice from my perspective would mean I would not share a road with one of the swill who may collide with me and do a runner. Amanda has it all wrong.

By the way, Amanda, Glenloch speed limit is 80 km/h. Have you been caught yet?

#39
cranky7:24 pm, 22 Feb 12

I cannot believe that I am agreeing with the Greens.

It is patently obvious that a fine imposed on a low income earner is of vastly greater consequence than the same amount to a high income earner.One could lose their job, the other would’nt even notice it.

Why should the result of the same indiscretion result in such enormously diferent outcomes?

#40
Alderney8:54 pm, 22 Feb 12

cranky said :

I cannot believe that I am agreeing with the Greens.

Why should the result of the same indiscretion result in such enormously diferent outcomes?

I totally agree, why should a rich murderer and a poor murderer be treated the same? After all, one doesn’t need to be too smart to know the poor are a drain on our taxes.

The rich bloke, being a net taxation contributor, when locked up, because a net taxation consumer. Thjer poor guy is already a net taxation consumer, so his going to gaol has no impact on net taxation revenues. So logic should tell us that he/she (rich person) should remain free so the State benefits from their freedom.

Do you see the flaw in the respective arguments?

#41
IrishPete9:08 pm, 22 Feb 12

“I was not expecting the Greens to be entrenching the idea that driving is a right.”

In a city with poor public transport (e.g. try taking a non-9-to-5 job without a car to get to it), driving does need to be a right…

And bring on fines that take account of your disposable income.

IP

#42
HenryBG12:13 am, 23 Feb 12

IrishPete said :

“I was not expecting the Greens to be entrenching the idea that driving is a right.”

In a city with poor public transport (e.g. try taking a non-9-to-5 job without a car to get to it), driving does need to be a right…

And bring on fines that take account of your disposable income.

IP

Beauty – so I sign up for a $2500/month leasing deal for my Porsche Cayenne, plus sundry other expenses, get a good accountant to structure my business a la Kerry Packer so that it appears on paper as though I earn nothing and I can look forward to getting $1 fines as a result of my speeding tickets, eh?

If people are too poor to pay their fines, they are too poor to own a car. Catch the bus to work. That’s what they’re there for.

#43
Felix the Cat4:17 am, 23 Feb 12

Perhaps the Govt could introduce Paypal as a payment option – not just for fines but for all Govt services.

#44
Ben_Dover7:18 am, 23 Feb 12

Another day, another barking mad bit of Green’s legislation.

Write your own Greens press release;

1) Pick a topic, any topic. (For the purposes of illustration, I’ll use “shoelaces”.)

2) Think of the most common-sense attitude to the subject.

3) Discard that.

4) Form a “shoelaces” steering group”.

5) Brainstorm the most stupid attitude to shoe laces you can think of.

6 ) Write some mad legislation to enable this.

7) Think of every minority group under the sun, (it does not matter whether Canberra has any ginger, gay, single parent, disabled Moldavians, or not, they are a minority.)

8) Write a press release stating how you feel it is about time the taxpayer funded free shoelaces for the ginger, gay, single parent, disabled Moldavian “community”, as this will enable them to “participate fully in society” lessen any “environmental impact”, be “gender neutral”.

(try to include as many of these “buzz words” as possible such as; “inclusive”, “holistic”, “non-judgemental”, “child and family”, anti-sexism,” “non racial bias”, “religious tolerance”, etc.)

9) Go out and annoy the b*gg*ry out of everyone with it.

#45
Ben_Dover9:58 am, 23 Feb 12

I have this vision of the Greens all sat around the meeting room table; “Ok, time for us to develop some policies. Now who’s turn was it to bring the Acid and the Hash brownies?”

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