Queensland Law Society

Offender penalty costs to hit taxpayers’ pockets

Date 30 Jul 2012
Contact Natalie Graeff, Manager Corporate Communications
Phone 07 3842 5868
Mobile 0488 433 884
Fax 07 3221 9329
Email n.graeff@qls.com.au

Queensland Law Society today criticised a government proposal to introduce an offender levy.

President Dr John de Groot said that this revenue-raising scheme will not only hit those who can least afford an added levy, but will also impact other cases moving through the courts via the creation of unnecessary administrative backlogs.

“Over-represented groups in the criminal justice system, such as the homeless and mentally ill, cannot afford these additional fees,” Dr de Groot said.

“This new Bill states that the court must not take the levy into account when determining the amount of a fine.

“We do not agree with this approach. Judicial discretion should be allowed to determine what is fair in the circumstances.

“The fact of the matter is that a substantial amount of these incurred costs will go unpaid, creating administrative burdens and wasting taxpayer’s money.

“A $100 levy may end up costing the government much more than the original $100, once staff time and resources spent following up are taken into account.

“Everyday Queenslanders are already dealing with the rise in general living costs and I expect that they will be the ones footing the bill for the extra administration for these charges.

“Regrettably we received only four business days to review and provide feedback on this Bill, a timeframe which we consider unrealistic for consultation on such a contentious issue.

“We urge the government to channel more funding into diversion and community programs, to reach those most at risk and prevent them from becoming an offender in the first place.”