Motorists in NSW have arguably been stung with the most vicious parking fines with penalties being three to four times more expensive than those issued in Victoria, in what critics see as unnecessary revenue raising. In NSW, motorists can be prosecuted with 138 different types of penalties, according to the recent list of parking offences published by Roads and Maritime Services.
The two most common infringements – parking continuously for longer than permitted, and parking without a valid ticket, the penalty for NSW motorists is $106, which is in stark contrast to the $30 penalty for the same offences in Victoria. In Queensland the penalty is reasonably moderate, sitting at $88. Likewise, comparing with Victoria, the offence of parking in a disabled zone will subject the driver to a $531 fine in NSW, as opposed to to $152 in Victoria. If this isn’t blatant enough, the offence of stopping on or near a school/level crossing now carries a $319 penalty in NSW, more than double the $148 fine in Victoria.
Our firm shares and reflects the view of NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury, who said that NSW motorists have every right to question why there is such a gulf in penalties for similar offences between the two states. In response to these concerns, a spokeswoman for Transport for NSW reiterated that fines are set based on their potential impact on road users, traffic and the environment. Transport for NSW have also sought to reassure motorists that the last major overhaul of parking fines was in 2005 and since the review, fines have increased every year in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Interestingly, the figures released from the NSW Office of State Revenue paint a rather differing picture to the arguments of Transport for NSW, which revealed a total face value of fines issued in 2014/15 at $180 million. The most lucrative offence was "disobeying a no stopping sign", which poured $31 million into council and state coffers. In light of these figures, Transport for NSW has come out to shed some light on the development of penalties.
"Penalties are developed within each state and therefore differ, and cannot be directly compared," the spokeswoman said. In fairness, Transport for NSW have also pointed to a handful of penalties that are more expensive in Victoria than NSW such as using a mobile phone while driving, and the majority of the others are cycling-related.
Although the explanation by the Government might have addressed some of the discrepancies in the range of fines issued to NSW motorists as compared to Victorian motorists, there is no reason preventing the Government from openly inviting interested stakeholders of the community to discuss about the issues, with the objective of closing or bridging the gulf between fines in the two states.