New laws gives Qld govt power to hike fines at will

THE Queensland Government will use its massive majority to rubber stamp legislation allowing it to increase the cost of fines at its leisure.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie introduced the Penalties and Sentences (Indexation) Amendment Bill into State Parliament this week.

The new legislation essentially allows the Queensland Treasurer to increase the cost of a penalty point by 3.5% each year or by any other amount he deems appropriate.

Mr Bleijie said a penalty unit was the basic measure for most fines and penalty infringement notices issued by various authorities, including courts across the state.

Currently one penalty unit is equal to $110.

Mr Bleijie explained if a certain offence was punishable by two penalty units the fine would therefore be $220

"The penalty for an offence is set at a level that reflects the seriousness of the offence and provides the level of deterrence or punishment that is considered necessary," he said.

"Unlike Victoria, the Northern Territory and Tasmania, the value of the penalty unit in Queensland is not indexed.

"Without periodic increases in the value of the penalty unit the intended deterrent or punishment effect of monetary penalties reduces."

Mr Bleijie said under the legislation the Treasurer must gazette any increases to penalty points by March 31 in the year it will increase.

"The bill specifically provides that a regulation may only prescribe a value for a penalty unit once for a financial year but does not require that the penalty unit value must be increased annually.

"This means that the government has the discretion to determine each year whether an increase will be applied."

He said the increases would not apply to offences committed under the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011, the Electrical Safety Act 2002 and the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011 or to the penalty unit value applicable to the laws of some councils.

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