A fine mess: Calls for new approach to ticketless parking fines

March 11, 2024 11:30 am in by

NSW Minister for Finance, Courtney Houssos, has written to 128 councils this week, urging those who use ticketless parking fines to address shortcoming in their approach.

The Minister will also stop new councils from signing up to the system, pointing to community concerns about the ticketless system, particularly around the timeliness of notifications to drivers.

Eurobodalla Council handed out 297 ticketless parking fines in 2023 while Bega Valley Council, gave out almost 1,958 tickets.

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In 2023, ticketless fines raised almost $550,000 for the two Far South Coast shire councils with Bega Valley Council raising $470,836 and Eurobodalla Council raising $76,065.

Across New South Wales in 2023, the total number of ticketless parking fines handed out was just shy of 750,000, raising a total of almost $140,000,000.

Minister Houssos, said in most cases drivers have no indication they have received a ticket until they get the fine in the post or via the Service NSW App.

“We think it’s reasonable for drivers to receive an immediate notification if they’re fined,

“If they don’t get that immediate notification, they can’t take a photo or collect evidence, it reduces the impact of the fine to act as a deterrent and they might get fined multiple times at the same location on consecutive days before they get the notification.”

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The ticketless fine system began as a trial in May 2020 by the former Liberal-National Government, before being expanded to more councils in December 2020.

It allows issuing authorities to send details of a fine directly to Revenue NSW which then sends an infringement notice by post or the Service NSW app. In most cases the driver has no indication they have received a ticket.

Minister Houssos’s letter formally requests councils to provide an on the spot, written notification to drivers – for example, a small pre-printed card on their windscreen – when they issue a fine.

This change would ensure drivers know they have been booked by a parking officer upon returning to their car. It will also ensure they can capture evidence – including photos and details of where they parked – thereby allowing them to seek review of the fine more easily, if required.

The key concerns in relation to ticketless parking fines are:

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  • the difficulty in gathering evidence in the event the driver wants to seek a review of the fine,
  • the reduced impact of a fine to act as an immediate deterrent and influence behaviour, and
  • that a driver can receive multiple parking infringements before receiving a notification via post or the Service NSW app.

Parking fines issued by local councils make up half of all fines processed by Revenue NSW.

Currently, 48 councils issue ticketless fines and some of these councils have stopped issuing physical infringement notices.

Shoalhaven Council has issued the 20th most number of ticketless fines across the state while the Bega Valley has issued the 28th highest number with the Eurobodalla coming in at 41.

Minister Houssos said the NSW Government understands that local councils are concerned about the safety of infringement officers from abuse and aggression when issuing tickets.

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“I believe these common sense changes ensure the parking fine systems function in a fair and transparent way and meets community expectations,” the Minister said.

“While there are some benefits to the ticketless system, I am aware of community concerns around the issuing of ticketless parking fines, particularly the timeliness of fine notifications,” she said.

“I believe these concerns can be addressed by implementing some simple administrative measures.

“I am requesting your council enhances your parking fine process so that drivers are provided immediate, written notification to drivers at the time they are issued with a parking fine. This is currently not a requirement of the scheme.

“This could be as simple as a note, which could take the form of a standardised, pre-printed card, noting that a fine has been issued.

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“This note does not necessarily need to form part of the infringement notice but at a minimum it should inform the driver they will soon receive an infringement notice via post or the Service NSW app.

“Doing so will provide drivers immediate notification that they have been given a parking fine and will allow them to take their own photos and note down relevant details.

Infringement notices are already issued in-person by officers using a digital device and requires them to take photos as
evidence for inclusion with the posted fine.

The Minister has also written to the 80 councils which do not issue ticketless parking fines, informing them that new councils won’t gain access to the ticketless parking fine system while Revenue NSW undertakes more consultation.

The NSW Government operates a series of parking facilities which utilise ticketless fines.

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The Minister will also write to the relevant issuing authorities to convey similar concerns.

“One of the key benefits of the ticketless parking scheme is that it provides drivers with access to photographic evidence of their alleged infringement. This streamlines the review process,” Minister Houssos said.

“Whilst currently not a mandatory requirement of the scheme, I am also requesting your council review its processes to ensure photographic evidence is captured and transmitted to Revenue NSW,” she said.

“The current implementation of the ticketless parking system has eroded trust in parking fine system. Providing immediate notification to drivers is the right thing to do and is an important first step to restoring community trust in the administration of the fines system.”

Images: Minister Courtney Houssos, East Coast Radio

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