Wednesday, 17 June 2020
The Law Society of Western Australia welcomes the announcement by the Attorney General, the Hon John Quigley MLA that the Fines, Penalties and Infringement Notices Enforcement Amendment Bill 2019 (WA) has passed through both houses of Parliament last night.
One of the key changes of this comprehensive law reform package will see imprisonment for non-payment of fines restricted so it can only be ordered by a Magistrate, and even then only as a sanction of last resort.
The suite of amendments to the Fines, Penalties and Infringement Notices Enforcement Act 1994 (WA) also includes the introduction of garnishee orders. The Law Society presented a Briefing Paper on the Imprisonment of Fine Defaulters in April 2019, supporting the initiative from the Australian Government to use repayment arrangements through Centrelink benefits for welfare recipients, on the basis that there is a safeguard that fine defaulters are not deprived of a minimum living income, and the garnishing of wages and bank accounts of fine defaulters who choose to default on their fines.
Law Society President Nicholas van Hattem said, “Imprisonment for fine default is inherently disproportionate and has impacted adversely on the most vulnerable in our community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Replacement by debt recovery and community service options (such as the new ‘work and development permit’ scheme) will have a positive impact and be far less costly to the community.”
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The Law Society of Western Australia is the peak professional association for lawyers in the State. The Society is a not-for-profit association dedicated to the representation of its more than 4,000 members. The Society enhances the legal profession through its position as a respected leader and contributor on law reform, access to justice and the rule of law. The Society is widely acknowledged by the legal profession, government and the community as the voice of the legal profession in Western Australia.