UPDATE (as at 5pm on March 22): The Pedens have received the following email to let them know the ACT Government is issuing a refund for the parking ticket …
EARLIER STORY: Got a parking ticket for parking in a police zone at the Canberra Hospital at 4am because you were in the middle of suffering from a heart attack?
Yeah, sorry, but the parking fine stands, no matter how much documentation you provide confirming that you were indeed in the throes of a heart attack at the time of the infringement, later had open heart surgery and spent three weeks in Canberra Hospital all up followed by another three at Westmead in Sydney.
The ACT Government’s Infringement Review Office stands firm if you’re “Out of Time” by the time you come up for air to lodge the paperwork.
I’m not making this up. One night late last year, Canberra man Matt Peden woke in the early hours feeling deathly ill, and decided to drive himself to hospital rather than waking his wife and young family. As he made his way to The Canberra Hospital, he realised the extent of his illness, and parked as close as possible to the Emergency department, where he was whisked inside for the first of several months’ worth of life-saving treatment.
Our entire community was in shock to learn that Matt had been struck down in this way. Friends, teachers, colleagues and family members rallied around to help Matt’s wife Jodie juggle her work and family commitments while Matt spent six weeks in hospital in Sydney. For months, Jodie and her young children were pale, worried versions of their usual bubbly selves. It was devastating to watch.
Now we’re all shaking our heads angrily at the news that this family, who have spent weeks and months anxiously worrying about whether their husband/father would survive, must now contend with an absurd email battle over a parking ticket issued at the most critical moment in Matt’s life.
Disputing a parking ticket is the last thing on your mind when you’re trying to keep your family together while your husband fights for his life in a Sydney hospital, so it’s not surprising that the parking ticket was forgotten amid the ongoing medical emergency.
When Jodie did appealed the ticket, the Infringement Review Office initially refused her application.
“I requested a review and they said they would review the decision but were STILL cancelling my licence,” Jodie said this week.
“I couldn’t drive with a cancelled licence so I paid it.”
As a virtual single mother with young children to drive to and from school, she really had no choice.
When Jodie subsequently wrote to the Manager of the Infringement Review Office to request a review of the decision made not to accept her Out of Time application, the response was the following:
“I have reviewed this matter and as payment has now been made, the Access Canberra Parking Review Office now considers the matter finalised.”
Jodie’s email pointing out that they gave her no option but to pay the fine provides an insight into her frustrations.
“How you can look at the evidence and still feel a fine is justified is completely ridiculous,” she wrote.
“It’s not about the payment it’s about whether a fine was justified, and it ABSOLUTELY WASN’T.”
The official’s response to that email read:
“Unfortunately whilst I can understand the emergency medical situation on the day of the offence the application submitted was for a review of your Out of Time reasons. Unfortunately the medical documentation you provided did not cover the Reminder Notice period.
“In addition the infringement notice has since been paid in full and therefore you are unable to make this application.”
The official goes on to say that they will refer the matter to the Manager of Transport, Licensing and Infringements to determine whether an exemption can be applied on this occasion.
Here at the RiotACT we’re hoping this manager will recognise that some situations require public servants to put the rules to one side and show some compassion.
The ACT Government should refund the Pedens’ payment in full and issue an apology to the family for adding to their trauma in recent months.