Debt shock has pollies scrambling
THE shock revelation that Rockhampton offenders owe more than $17 million in unpaid fines had politicians scrambling for the high ground yesterday.
The State Penalties Enforcement Registry figures also showed one in 10 residents owes money to SPER.
LNP Mirani MP Ted Malone had said people weren't able to pay their fines because of higher living costs.
But Labor's Rockhampton MP Robert Schwarten and acting Attorney-General Annastacia Palaszczuk have hit out at Mr Malone's comments, saying he is soft on crime.
"Whatever happened to the 'do the crime do the time mantra' of the National Party?" said Ms Palaszczuk.
"The fact is there are plenty of measures that assist those who have trouble paying but some offenders simply do not want to pay and now the LNP has given them the green light to do so."
Ms Palaszczuk also hit out at LNP's Shadow Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, who attacked Labor's "dismal track record" in managing the mounting fines problem.
"Given that SPER collects $12 for every $1 spent, it is an effective tool to have available," she said.
"People who do not pay their debt face tough consequences like having their drivers' licence suspended, having interests registered over their property or having repayments deducted from their wages or their bank accounts.
"In the worst cases, people may even end up in jail."
Mr Schwarten said when he was in Cabinet, the issue of enforcing penalties on people, including those not paying SPER fines, had been raised a number of times and that's how the anti-hooning legislation came into effect.
"Society rightly expects that people who do the wrong thing pay the consequences and that is what SPER helps achieve," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"The vast majority of amounts owing to SPER are paid within a year and money collected goes to paying off debts owing to the State for victims of crime payments, into general revenue and back to fine issuers other than the Queensland Government such as councils. As long as people continue to accumulate fines, they will accumulate SPER debts if they are not paid by the due date. People who have fines registered with SPER and who are experiencing financial difficulties can apply to SPER for a reduced payment arrangement."
When Shadow Police Minister John-Paul Langbroek was asked what the LNP planned to do to reduce the amount of SPER debts owing, he replied there would be much more enforcement of it.
Mr Langbroek said there were hundreds of millions of dollars statewide that was outstanding and impacting the State Budget, making it hard for the government to provide front-line services.
Under Defferal - $1,395,541.15 from 3389 fines from 848 offenders
Under compliance - $5,896,550.13 from 19,394 fines from 4507 offenders
Awaiting enforcement - $2,844,131.74 from 8129 fines from 1836 offenders
Under Active Enforcement - $6,790,130.01 from 20,698 fines from 2558 offenders
Penalties for not paying
having their drivers license suspended,
having interests registered over their property
having repayments deducted from their wages or their bank accounts,
or even end up in jail.