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Thousands getting rid of their fines

Tue, 10 Aug 2004

Thousands getting rid of their fines

Courts Minister Rick Barker today announced the best annual fines collection total ever, and an increase of 28 per cent on last year.

He reports $42 million more was paid by fine defaulters this financial year than last year, but says that amounts outstanding are still too high and he is determined to bring them down.

"The courts are the last resort for various agencies, it deals with people with what I call, 'the ostrich syndrome' so courts are doing a great job to get more fines paid and heads out of the sand.

"There's no doubt the collections team, via new call centres and though proactive collection campaigns have contributed to bringing the figures up from $150 million in the 02/03 financial year to $192 million for 03/04, but I also want to see the outstanding amounts coming down significantly.

" I have a strong message for people who've been fined and had it passed to the court - you will eventually have to face it, make it easy on yourself and make an arrangement to deal with the fine, as this government will be getting even tougher on you.

"The penny is starting to drop with thousands though, as more people are setting up ways of paying. I am pleased to highlight a 20 per cent increase in arrangements to pay on last year.

" Fines defaulters are about to be named and shamed in a nationwide collections campaign and are warned that new provisions in the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill will prevent those with overdue reparations and large court fines from leaving the country - pay or stay is the message," he said.

Between 1995 and 2002, fines filed in court rose by $10 - 20 million each year. In the last two years, increases each year have been around $40 - $50 million.

"The number of fines lodged at court has been increasing in recent years and to deal with this Budget 2004 spends $34.3 million over four years for expansion of the Collection Unit's capability, says Rick Barker.

ENDS

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