Australia

Calls for Victoria to follow NSW and cancel thousands of COVID-19 fines

Highlights
  • A court in NSW ruled certain COVID-19 fines in the state were not valid.
  • The case was launched on behalf of two men fined between $1,000 and $3,000.
  • Now groups in Victoria are suggesting the state should follow NSW’s lead.
Millions of dollars in fines handed to people in Victoria for breaches of COVID-19 rules should be cancelled in light of NSW withdrawing 33,000 similar penalty notices.
Disadvantaged Victorians bore the brunt of 30,000 fines handed out while the state was under public health orders, community legal centres YouthLaw and Inner Melbourne Community Legal said.
The call comes after a Supreme Court decision found certain types of fines issued in NSW were not valid because they did not include a detailed description of offences.

The court ruling prompted Revenue NSW to withdraw about half of the 60,000 fines issued there.

YouthLaw’s policy, advocacy and human rights officer Tiffany Overall said some legal centres would now consider whether Victorian fines could also be tested in court.
“We will be looking closely at the implication of the NSW decision and what it could mean for Victorians that are being sued for outstanding COVID fines,” Ms Overall told AAP.
“The relevance is broader than the very technical arguments that were raised in their case.

“It’s that the NSW case really does highlight once again inappropriateness of this sort of policing response to a pandemic.”

People caught gathering in breach of public health orders could have been fined up to $5,452 while businesses faced penalties up to $10,904 if they broke the rules.
“A newly re-elected Andrews government has a great opportunity to just be proactive and get in there now and not wait to see if there’s any sort of case brought against them,” Ms Overall said.
Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan said she could not say whether Victorian authorities were looking into scrapping fines.

The NSW case was launched by a community legal centre acting on behalf of two men who were each fined between $1,000 and $3,000.

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