More than 7000 people have applied to Revenue NSW to overturn a COVID-19 fine but only one in 10 appeals were successful, a new freedom of information request obtained by RLC has revealed.
Caitlin Fitzsimmons reports for Sydney Morning Herald.
Revenue NSW has started enforcement action over 17,657 unpaid fines.
Of those, 386 fines were cancelled and 15 were converted to a caution, while 3481 fines were allowed to stand. The decision was pending for 3138 fines.
"It is highly unjust to leave individuals saddled with debt over the holidays due to incorrectly issued COVID-19 penalty notices," RLC police accountability solicitor, Samantha Lee said.
Community legal centres including RLC, Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) are calling for leniency, saying they are concerned about the impact of wrongfully issued fines on people already experiencing hardship, and are struggling to meet demand from people seeking assistance.
Public Interest Advocacy Centre chief executive Jonathan Hunyor said the fines, which ranged from $500 to $5000 each, added up to $44 million in total and were falling due while communities were still struggling.
“There’s no means testing – a $1000 fine issued for someone who may not be in work is a massive fine, and they’ve been issued without taking into account people’s capacity to pay,” he said.
“There should be as much leniency as can be afforded to ensure that people aren’t suffering hardship.”