RLC in the Media: Unpaid fines in NSW reach $1 billion

New South Wales residents owe $1 billion to the state government because of unpaid fines.

9News reports.

Data obtained by 9News under freedom of information laws shows more than 380,000 individuals and 29,000 organisations have enforceable debt with Revenue NSW because of unpaid fines.

More than 90 per cent of the total is owed by ordinary people, compared to just $85 million by organisations.

"We've had a look at the fines internationally and our fines are very high, even across Australia the fines are quite different," Sam Lee from Redfern Legal Centre said.

The NSW Government has been accused of revenue-raising over the past couple of years, with the value of fines issued surging despite COVID-19 disruptions.

"The government is committed to collecting money which is due to the government," Finance Minister Damien Tudehope said.

Only a small proportion of unpaid fine debt — equivalent to two per cent — is being written off.

On the flip side, more than $7 million in debts that had previously been written off were reactivated in 2020-21.

Advocates are encouraging those who are struggling to pay fines to seek assistance or apply for their fine debt to be waived, although the odds appear to be stacked heavily against the latter.

Revenue NSW said it couldn't break down the debt by the type of fine it originated from but publicly available data suggests it's likely significant amounts were related to mobile phone, COVID-19, parking, speeding and traffic offences.

"We know in particular COVID-19 fines may have been issued not according to law, and so people aren't willing to pay a fine for something that they did not commit," Ms Lee said.

View the full story here(28 April 2022)