February 03


A fine mess


Queensland stands ready to adopt a new marketing slogan for its vehicle number plates: The Fraudulent State.

It’s a consequence of citizens engaging in a massive fraud scheme where they default on payment of fines imposed for driving offences and unpaid tolls.

The current total of fines outstanding to the wonderfully-named State Penalty Enforcement Registry is $1,172 billion

It’s a safe bet that most of those who owe money to the state would be offended if you suggested they were guilty of fraud. But there’s none so deaf as those who refuse to hear.

The City of Gold Coast provides a snapshot for the extent of the problem. With a population of 550,000 the tourist capital had 75,000 fine defaulters in 2015. That’s one-in-seven residents guilty of defrauding the state – effectively, their own community.

If you discounted those too young to drive and those too infirm, it could mean one in every four drivers is guilty of fraud.

The reason there is not a public outcry over this mess is that both the offenders – and the silent majority – appear not to understand that this is a debt on which all Queensland workers are paying interest.

At a nominal rate of 4% that is an interest bill of around $45 million a year.

Queensland’s total state debt for which taxpayers are liable is some $37 billion which means fine defaults comprise about 3% of that deficit. Talk about “theft” on a grand scale!

Mind you, if Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt was to be believed we could have a solution to notorious traffic congestion in the state’s south-east.

With a straight face he said he would be aggressively pursuing serial offenders by wheel-clamping their cars. With an election in the offing, can we really believe he would dare alienate so many potential voters? Not bloody likely.

Treasurer, your hot air is worsening climate change. And your lack of courage is worsening the state’s economy.