Fines aren’t fair but today they’re a little fairer


The Greens NSW have been instrumental into securing amendments this evening to the Government’s fines amendments bill which for the first time recognise that fines aren’t fair unless they are adjusted to the income of the person being fined.

The amendment specifies that a fine payment can be reduced by 50% if the person is in receipt of a welfare payment and the Commissioner determines this reduction is appropriate.

Greens MP David Shoebridge and Justice Spokesperson said:

“The amendment adopted tonight is a critical step towards making the fines system fairer.

“It makes no sense for someone on Newstart to receive the same fine as a politician or a millionaire.

“If fines are to play a deterrent function they need to do so fairly, ensuring their impact is not disproportionately felt by vulnerable people.

"A one-size-fits-all fine system is grossly unfair at both ends of the income scale.

"A $440 fine can be economically crippling for a person on Centrelink benefits but is hardly noticed by an investment banker.

“The amendment today will allow people on welfare payments and other people on low incomes to seek a reduction of 50% in the amount required to pay.

“Going forward we need to also consider increasing penalties for high income individuals to ensure they act as a genuine deterrent.

“One option is the scheme in place in Finland that imposes “day fines” where the amount a person is fined is based on the offender’s daily income,” Mr Shoebridge said.

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