June 20, 2018 |
Today legislation enters the parliament that will provide better rights for toll users. The Federation of Community Legal Centres calls on all parties to support the Bill. The Bill was originally drafted by the Andrews’ Government as part of the West Gate Tunnel Bill and has now been split from this bill to form its own Toll Fine Enforcement Bill, which is being tabled by the Greens.
The Bill is a first step to fixing our broken toll system. Users of toll roads face criminal charges for failing to pay a fine. There is no reason why toll road should be treated differently to any other services, that is as a civil debt.
The legislation will provide important reforms that will slow down the disproportionate escalation of toll fines. Currently a person can be charged $370 a day for failing to pay a toll fine. A week of toll fines can quickly turn into thousands of dollars of fines.
The legislation will allow Magistrates’ Court to waive administration fees in special circumstances and hardship. It will also provide for VicRoads to better share information with toll road operators so that can make better attempts to contact people before fines accrue. This will go some way to help people who move house or become homeless, who do not even know they have a debt accruing before it gets out of control.
Thousands of Victorians get caught up in the toll system every week. Driving on Citilink without paying is the single biggest charge before the Magistrates’ Court, the third biggest is driving on Eastlink without paying. Toll fines are clogging up our court system. The Royal Commission into Family Violence recommended the government fix the fine system to free up the Magistrates’ Court to deal with urgent and critical family violence matters.
Outer suburban councils areas are biggest hit by fines – with Casey City Council having outstanding warrants valued of $123 million, Hume City Council $96 million, and Frankston City Council $75 million. Each of these areas contains key marginal seats that may determine the upcoming election.
Serina McDuff CEO of the Federation of Community Legal Centres says
“The Toll Road system is broken. Our Magistrates’ Courts are clogged with dealing with toll road matters, delaying critical family violence matters being dealt with. This legislation is the first step to making the fines more proportionate and ensuring hardship issues are properly dealt with. But more must be done.”
CEO, Federation of Community Legal Centres
0451 411 479