Fines and penalties could increase annually

SLUGGING Queenslanders who err on the wrong side of the law is about to get a whole lot easier for the State Government.

A parliamentary committee has recommended increasing the monetary value of a penalty unit on an annual basis.

The new legislation will allow Treasurer Tim Nicholls to increase the cost of a penalty point by 3.5% each year - or by an amount he chooses.

A penalty unit is used to calculate the amount of a fine payable when a person is convicted or found guilty of an offence and is the basic measure for most fines and penalty infringement notices

Currently one penalty unit equals $110.

The Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee chair Ian Berry said the committee had no reservations in passing the bill.

"The bill is based on sound policy objectives and provides a legislative mechanism for the annual increase in the value of the penalty unit," he said.

"The bill also achieves its objective of ensuring the deterrent and punishment effect of fines and penalty infringement notices is maintained."

The committee invited stakeholders and subscribers to lodge written submissions in relation to the bill however it chose not to hold any public hearings.

Only one of the five stakeholders who lodged a written submission supported the proposed changes.

The committee noted the Local Government Association of Queensland was fully supportive of the proposed bill as they had the most to gain from the changes.

"Given the LGAQ is the representative body for local councils who will reap the benefits of the streamlined processes it is not surprising to note their strong support for the bill," the committee said.

In its submission to the committee the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties questioned the appropriateness of the legislation.

"The council questions the need for the automatic indexation of penalty units at all," it said.

"Not a single judicial authority is mentioned where the judicial officer has found the value of the penalty unit and the maximum for the offence has cause there to be insufficient headroom in the sentencing options."

All five submitters expressed concerns at the role the Treasurer would play in determining the annual increase.

However, the committee said it did not share the concerns raised in submissions in relation to the Treasurer's role under the bill and considered that it was entirely appropriate for him be involved to maintain consistency with the indexation rate for fees and charges



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