The cost of everyday fines will be cut in half for NSW welfare recipients, in a move to alleviate financial stress in the wake of the economic impact of the coronavirus.
The discount applies to anyone on Centrelink, including Aussies on JobKeeper or Jobseeker.
The changes will come into effect on July 1.
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The NSW government announced on Sunday that anyone on government benefit payments could apply to have fines collected by Revenue NSW to be reduced.
This covers road-related offences such as speeding and parking and the discount also covers police-related infringements.
If you’re fined for stealing, offensive behaviour, or intoxicated/disorderly conduct, you only need to pay back half.
But it’s not a ‘get out of jail free’ card.
Court court-issued fines, voting-related fines, jury duty fines and fines issued to body corporates are exempt from the changes.
NSW Finance Minister Damien Tudehope said the reforms were designed to make the fines system fairer and more flexible.
“We know many people are doing it tough, especially right now during COVID-19,” he said.
“These reforms will not only assist financially disadvantaged people, but also provide everyone with greater flexibility in paying their fines.”
The reduction could save Centrelink recipients hundreds of dollars on fines. Traffic offences are costly; speeding tickets can range from $121 to $2482 while disobeying a give way sign can cost you $344.
Applicants will not automatically be granted the 50 per cent discount.
Instead, Revenue NSW will first assess whether a payment plan is a viable option, or whether the fine can be resolved through a work and development order, which allows people to reduce their fines in exchange for unpaid work or participation in courses or treatment programs.
As part of the reforms, people will be able to set up payment plans at any point in the fines process, and will be entitled to seek a review of their fine at any time.
Currently, payment plans can only be established after a fine becomes overdue, while reviews can only be sought before a fine is overdue.
The fines paid to Revenue NSW make up 35 per cent of NSW’s spending money, so it’s unclear at this stage how the deficit will be made up.