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What's the problem Mr Power?

5 September 2006

What's the problem Mr Power?

Courts Minister Rick Barker has called upon Simon Power to clarify his confused ramblings on the fines system.

Simon Power today lamented the fact that the judges have sent 293 people to prison in lieu of outstanding fines, and called for alternative sentences to jail.

"The reality is that the 293 fine defaulters imprisoned represents only 0.06% of the total number of people who owe fines. These are a hard core of people who think they can flout the law and get away without paying their fines.

"Would Mr Power complain if judges didn't send these fine defaulters to jail? Of course he would," said Rick Barker.

"The recently announced Effective Interventions package contains a raft of new proposals, including electronic bail and home dentition as a sentence in its own right, which will give judges more non-jail options.

"Will Mr Power complain once we implement these alternative sentences? Of course he will. Complaining is all he knows how to do.

"Contrary to the negative ramblings of the opposition, we're doing a great job collecting fines.

"The infringement system we inherited from National was antiquated. The number of issuing authorities had ballooned to over 80, and there had been no investment in technology.

"We've taken on the challenge of getting it right. We've injected significant resources into Collections, set up call centres equipped with world leading technology to assist fine collection, passed legislation allowing for electronic filing of infringement notices and the collection of fines at airports, and introduced aggressive initiatives such as car clamping, the 'Confiscated Car Club', and the 'Name and Shame' campaign.

"And it's working. While the number of fines imposed has risen by 10% per year over the last few years, the collection of fines has increased by 16.5%. In other words, not only are we collecting more fines, but we're doing it more effectively.

"We've also initiated an Infringement Review which will lead to further improvements in the efficiency, transparency and effectiveness of our infringement system, said Rick Barker.

ENDS

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