Fines put on hold during COVID-19 pandemic

THE state's debt collection agency has stopped issuing collection notices for any new fines dished out since mid-March as part of its response to coronavirus.

The Courier-Mail can reveal the State Penalties Enforcement Registry has also deferred the debts of thousands of fine and toll defaulters because of the pandemic.

About 4,300 debtors with the agency have sought and received a deferral of between 30 to 90 days since the crisis began, including 1,058 debtors whose deferrals have since ended.

The State Penalties Enforcement Registry has deferred the debts of thousands of fine and toll defaulters during the coronavirus crisis.
The State Penalties Enforcement Registry has deferred the debts of thousands of fine and toll defaulters during the coronavirus crisis.

The agency has also stopped giving out collection notices for any new fines issued since mid-March, as part of a range of measures they say have been implemented to mitigate the impacts of the crisis.

As part of its usual enforcement activities, SPER can issue fine collection notices to a fine defaulter's bank or employer, allowing them to dock money from their bank accounts or wages.

Other temporary measures introduced by SPER include no new driver's licence suspensions, no new vehicle immobilisations and no new seizures of property.

SPER has the power to suspend driver's licences if a debtor ignores an enforcement order. A Queensland Treasury spokesman said the exact timing of when these mitigation measures would be wound back was being "continuously reviewed", pointing to the "rapidly changing circumstances" of COVID-19.

"SPER understands that many individuals and businesses who have fine debts will have been directly or indirectly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and may find it difficult to pay their debts at the moment," he said.

"SPER acted quickly to implement these measures from mid-March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic."

The spokesman said it was too early determine the impacts of COVID-19 on the level of debt held with SPER.

The latest figures released by Queensland Treasury show there was about $1.291 billion worth of debt held with SPER at the end of May - down from the $1.295 billion recorded at the end of March.

The agency also managed to collect more than $20 million over the month of May, according to the figures.

Originally published as Fines put on hold during COVID-19 pandemic



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