New Bill to Improve Fines Enforcement

  • Doug Graham

The Minister for Courts, Hon D.A.M. Graham, today introduced legislation widening enforcement powers for fines collection and extending information matching to trace fines defaulters.

The Summary Proceedings Amendment Bill (No 3) also includes improved administrative arrangements to increase Court efficiency.

Mr Graham said the Bill reinforces the Government's intention to make fines an effective and credible penalty.

'This is already underway with a major restructuring of Courts fines collection work, publicity campaigns and a tougher approach towards enforcement.

'This new legislation will add to that momentum by giving the Courts new ways to tackle some of the more reluctant payers,' he said.

The Bill's provisions include powers to:

Authorise deductions from benefits for fine defaulters and for reparation payments, in line with current powers to deduct from salaries and wages
Match information between the Department for Courts and Inland Revenue files, and improve existing matching with the Department of Social Welfare, to trace fines defaulters who are otherwise unable to be found
Make deduction orders on the bank accounts of those who default on fines payment arrangements, and registering a charge against land owned by fines defaulters
The Bill will also allow Court staff to carry out some of the administrative work currently done by Judges in fines and pre-trial criminal matters.

Mr Graham said these changes will result in more effective operation of the Court, freeing up judicial time for more critical matters.

The Bill will be referred to the Justice and Law Reform Select Committee following its second reading next week.