More parking fines in doubt after Ombudsman follow-up report

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More than 17,400 parking fines could be overturned after a follow-up Victorian Ombudsman report identified a further five councils, a university and an agency outsourced internal reviews of parking infringements.

This takes the total number of councils and agencies to 12, which outsourced some fines review decisions to private contractors – with more than 268,000 fines potentially affected.

The latest councils and agencies which have, or will set-up refund schemes include:

  • City of Greater Geelong - 6400 fines issued between 2009 and 2018
  • Frankston City Council - 8500 issued between November 2008 and April 2014
  • Mildura Rural City Council - 2500 fines issued between July 2007 and May 2019
  • Bass Coast Shire Council – unknown number of fines issued between 2007 and 2009
  • Parks Victoria – unknown number of fines issued at Albert Park Reserve between 2006 and March 2019
  • Hume City Council – unknown number of fines issued up to December 2016
  • Monash University – unknown number of fines issued up to 2019

Tabling the Outsourcing of parking fine internal reviews – a follow-up report today, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass said motorists who had unsuccessfully challenged a fine’s legitimacy or fairness during these periods at any of these councils or agencies should contact them to check their eligibility for refunds.

“Tens of thousands of people have been affected by this saga, and I am pleased that all agencies concerned have now agreed to set up refund schemes,” Ms Glass said.

“Fines are part of life and if people do the wrong thing they should be fined – but it needs to be done properly, fairly and in accordance with legislation.”

The Ombudsman’s initial report into the practice, Investigation into three councils' outsourcing of parking fine internal reviews , was handed down in February last year and found the affected councils either allowed their contractor to make review decisions, or effectively ‘rubber-stamped’ their recommendations on reviews.

The investigation prompted Port Phillip, Stonnington and Glen Eira councils to set up refund schemes for fines issued over a 10-year period with legal doubt hanging over 204,000 fines.

Monash and Kingston councils had already announced plans to refund around 46,000 fines, reviewed between 2006 and 2016, before the report was released.

The original investigation found for about 10 years, some councils allowed an external contractor to decide many of their reviews, with the Ombudsman finding that such actions appeared to have been contrary to the law.

“Every so often, I table a report suspecting what we discovered during our investigation is just the tip of the iceberg - this has again proven to be the case,” Ms Glass said.

Ms Glass said following her investigation, all agencies questioned say they now review all fines internally and have agreed to set-up repayment schemes.

The Department of Justice and Community Safety is now checking outsourcing practices at other enforcement agencies, with the Ombudsman paying close attention to the results of the Department audit.

Media contact: Aleks Devic - 0409 936 235