NSW welfare recipients could have their fines slashed in half under a new state government plan designed to ease the financial burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Berejiklian government on Sunday announced that anyone on government benefit payments could apply to have fines collected by Revenue NSW reduced.
The scheme, which will come into force on July 1, will cover traffic, speeding and parking fines as well as some police-issued fines.
However it does not cover penalties issued by a court or jury duty and voting-related fines and fines issued to a body corporate.
“These reforms will strike the right balance, ensuring we hold people to account for breaking the rules and endangering our roads, but without placing undue burdens on disadvantaged members of our community,” Attorney-General Mark Speakman said.
The NSW government is wary of the social impacts caused by the coronavirus with the state’s unemployment rate rising by one point to 6.4 per cent in May.
While it was a better-than-expected result, the government is expecting the unemployment rate to reach at least eight per cent by the time the federal government’s JobKeeper program is scaled back in late September.
Under the scheme, customers suffering financial hardship will be able to apply for a fine reduction as long as it is not overdue.
It will not be automatically granted, with Revenue NSW to first negotiate a possible payment plan or work and development order, which allows for penalties to be reduced in exchange for unpaid work or the completion of courses or treatment.
The Commissioner of Fines Administration has also reserved the right to exclude fines for serious offences.
As well, any licence cancellations or suspensions and demerit points will apply regardless of whether the fine is reduced.
“In making the system fairer, we have maintained the deterrent factor by ensuring all other penalties still apply, so if you were speeding, you will still receive the full demerit points,” Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said.