More than 33,000 fines were rescinded last year after a supreme court ruling, but correspondence from authorities suggests thousands more will stand.
Christopher Knaus reporting in The Guardian.
The New South Wales government is signalling it will not withdraw any additional Covid fines despite a supreme court decision finding a huge volume of pandemic-related infringements were unlawful.
The position has prompted criticism from Redfern Legal Centre.
The centre’s senior solicitor Samantha Lee said its position was that all Covid fines, including the 29,017 that remain, fail to adequately specify the required detail of the alleged offence, making them unlawful.
“It is our position that all Covid fines fail this legal requirement and therefore all should be withdrawn,” she said.
“There has been no indication from Revenue NSW the organisation has absorbed and acted on the significance of the supreme court decision.”
“The judgment is not just about the need to withdraw invalid fines, but it has highlighted that the current penalty notice system in New South Wales is not fit for purpose and has huge legal flaws because fines (not just Covid fines) fail to meet the legal requirements under the Fines Act.”
The development comes as the RLC and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) lodged a formal complaint to the police watchdog about their enforcement of Covid fines.
The two community legal services have asked the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) to investigate the way police enforced Covid fines, which they described as “heavy-handed”.
In a statement, the Redfern Legal Centre chief executive, Camilla Pandolfini, said the significant volume of fines issued by police suggested they were not using their discretion to issue fines and were instead issuing them by default.
“Some of our clients were as young as 12 years old when NSW police officers issued fines to them,” Pandolfini said. “Parents called us, in tears, unable to pay the fines issued to their young children.
“People experiencing homelessness, with significant mental health conditions, or returning home from their shift as health workers were fined by NSW police.”
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