The ACT Greens call on the ACT Government to continue to make streets slower and make fines fair to help address social disadvantage.
“Slower streets are safer for everyone, especially pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. 40km zones are an integral part of that picture and there’s a local and global move towards reduced speed zones”, said Jo Clay MLA, ACT Greens Spokesperson for Transport, Active Transport and Road Safety.
“It’s great work and we need to continue to make our streets slower and safer.”
“But we also need to ensure that speeding and other fines are fair. It’s time we recognise that fines disproportionately penalise people who don’t earn much and people who are dealing with complex issues.
“Under the current system, people can seek to pay their fine in instalments, but this can lock them into debt for years. The current system also has grounds to seek a waiver, but these are only issued in very limited circumstances. The Guidelines mean that people usually have to complete a community work order instead of receiving a waiver. This means they have to pay in time rather than money. Those who are struggling financially do not always have spare time. They may be working in low-paid, casual work, they may have carer responsibilities, there may be other reasons that make it difficult to work off the debt. This system punishes people who are already under pressure.
“We need a system that is applied fairly and compassionately, taking into consideration a person’s whole circumstances. The New South Wales system is kinder and gives much better access to fine waivers for financial hardship and other circumstances.
“I’d like to see a fairer system of fines. We should allow a fine to be waived wholly or partly for financial hardship and other compassionate grounds, like in New South Wales. People should be able to get a complete waiver, or a combination of a waiver, part-waiver, payment plan or work order, depending on their circumstances. At the moment, you can only have your fines waived if you meet narrow criteria and are found to be unable to work your fines off, which is really difficult to prove.
“Of course people should be held responsible for their actions. But that does not mean ACT Government should compound financial disadvantage and difficult circumstances.”
CEO of Care, Carmel Franklin, has welcomed the recommendations:
“This is about ensuring that people who are in vulnerable circumstances have compassion shown to them. Issuing a warning notice in the first month of major changes to speed zones will foster goodwill between Canberrans and the Government. It’s in the spirit of giving everybody a fair go.
“At Care we have some fantastic initiatives such as our Work Development Program where people can learn financial literacy skills while reducing their fines. I hope these programs continue, and would welcome additional funding to support them into the future.”