The Victorian Coalition Government has introduced legislation to overhaul fine collection in Victoria to create a simpler, fairer system and clamp down on serial fine evaders.
Attorney General, Robert Clark, said the reformed fines system would consolidate all fines into one account, allowing people to better understand what they owe and manage their payments.
“This will provide clearer details of people’s obligations and responsibilities and make it easier to identify and respond to people who need help,” Mr Clark said.
“These reforms will help sort out those who won’t pay from those who can’t, and provide improved options for vulnerable people to prevent them from accumulating spiralling debts.”
The Government’s fines reform initiatives include changes to provide:
- a single integrated system to track and collect infringement fines, court fines, victim compensation orders and civil judgment debts;
- simpler and shorter timelines and notifications for collection and enforcement;
- a focus on the total amount owed by individuals, rather than on the separate debts for each fine or infringement;
- better arrangements to pay debts by instalments;
- earlier intervention when individuals accumulate multiple fines or large debts; and
- better options for people to clear their debts through community service when they can’t pay upfront or by instalments.
These reforms are backed by $34.6 million of capital and recurrent funding over four years to upgrade IT systems and increase enforcement capacity.
The changes will include replacing the Infringements Court with a Director, Fines Victoria, to oversee the state’s fines system.
The Director of Fines Victoria will be able to apply sanctions automatically to people who have ignored their outstanding fines and allowed them to become warrants.
“These changes will assist in collecting payment from people who are deliberately trying to avoid their debts,” Mr Clark said.
“Those who are actively trying to avoid their fines and warrants will have their drivers licence or car registration automatically suspended, forcing them to confront their responsibilities.”
The fines reform package also includes:
- closing a loophole allowing prisoners to have their outstanding fines wiped at the same time they are serving a sentence for another offence;
- work and development permits allowing vulnerable people to enter work programs to clear their fines or to receive medical or drug and alcohol treatment; and
- greater ability for the Sheriff’s Office to recover civil debts.
Mr Clark said reform package would also benefit crime victims seeking to recover compensation from offenders through the courts. Various fees associated with the enforcement of compensation orders will be removed, allowing an easier path for victims to recover payment from offenders.