HUNTER VALLEY, 10 November 2011 – The new Courts and Other Legislation Further Amendment Bill 2011 introduced into the NSW Parliament during September is a welcome development, according to some politicians, advocacy groups and voters.
In the new Bill, a conviction will not include an order made under section 10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 in relation to an offence that is not punishable by imprisonment.
The Hon. David Shoebridge stated that the Greens had spoken out against the earlier amendment moved by the previous Government , when it greatly ‘expanded the reach of the provisions of the Victims Compensation Support & Rehabilitation Act... even where a conviction was proved but the charges were dismissed under section 10.’
He also reminded Parliament that ‘when one considers that all those minor offences had to provide a $67 payment to the fund, the administrative costs involved in issuing notices and chasing up payments would have exceeded the $67 that was recovered in due course.’
Yet despite this turn of events, Sue Abbott of Scone is still required to pay into the fund.
After her last court appearance at the Scone & Muswellbrook Local Courts in July 2011 where she received a second section 10 (1)(a) dismissal for her crime of riding a bicycle without a helmet, she was amazed to receive a bill in the post a week later for $67 to be paid to the Victims Compensation Levy.
‘Exactly who,’ she asked herself, ‘was the victim?’ Appalled at the arbitrary tax nature of the levy, she commenced an active letter writing campaign with the NSW Attorney General, the Hon. Greg Smith.
Whilst the Attorney General acknowledged in correspondence with her that ‘Parliament recently decided that the levy should not apply to charges that are dismissed under s10(1)(a),’ he sternly advised her that she would still be required to pay the now vastly-increased levy as it is ‘imposed automatically under the law and as such is a debt owed to the Crown’.
Mrs Abbott said ‘this is analogous to pointing out to a bull-dozer driver that there are a 1,000s of people standing on the road he is bull-dozing, and him then saying “ok no worries but the first 20 or so along the first bit of road are going to get caught up in my braking process!”
She has now received a ‘Suspension of Driver’s Licence Notice’ to take effect next Tuesday 15 November 2011 and she is prepared to forgo her privileges as a motoring road user.
“It says a lot about Australia that the first tactic used to force your hand is to threaten you with removal of car privileges even when dealing with a bicycle user - in reality they’re the ones who are going to miss out on considerable revenue because I probably won’t ever renew my licence again, & therefore won’t need insurance, petrol, oil, tyres, cars – any of that Big Oil stuff.”