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Fines halved for NSW welfare recipients

You will be able to apply for a fine reduction. Image: Getty

Welfare recipients in New South Wales will be able to apply to have their fines halved under a new plan aimed at mitigating the financial pain from coronavirus. 

The state government on Sunday announced that people receiving Centrelink payments would be able to ask to have fines collected by Revenue NSW reduced as of 1 July. The discounts also apply to Australians receiving JobKeeper.

Fines include parking fines, speeding and traffic fines and some police-issued fines for offences including drunk and disorderly conduct, offensive behaviour and stealing. 

"These reforms will strike the right balance, ensuring we hold people to account for breaking the rules and endangering our roads, but without placing undue burdens on disadvantaged members of our community," Attorney-General Mark Speakman said.

Fines issued by a court, voting-related fines, fines issued to body corporates and jury duty fines will not be included in the scheme. 

Australians will be able to apply for the 50 per cent reduction if they are suffering financial hardship and if the fine isn’t overdue. 

But it won’t be the first step: Revenue NSW will first negotiate a potential payment plan, or ask the fine-payers to complete work or participate in treatment programs in exchange for a fine reduction. 

Additionally, demerit points, licence cancellations and suspensions will still apply, with Treasurer Dominic Perrottet describing this as a way to deter wrongdoing. 

“In making the system fairer, we have maintained the deterrent factor by ensuring all other penalties still apply, so if you were speeding, you will still receive the full demerit points," Perrottet said.

Finance Minister Damien Tudehope echoed that on Monday morning. 

“It is about hardship and I don’t think that there is any suggestion that we are going soft on crime,” Tudehope told 2GB. 

As it stands, state speeding fines range from $121 to $2,8482, while fines for ignoring rules like give way signs begin at $344.

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