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Fines Enforcement and Debt Recovery Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading

(Continued from 28 September 2017)

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (12:00): We will talk about that, too. This bill will broaden the powers of the government to recover debts and expand the circumstances whereby community service and intervention programs can be undertaken in order to service a debt. The bill will also enable all debts that are owed to the government, including civil debts, to be dealt with by the fines unit.

I am supportive of the provisions in the bill; however, I hold some concerns that the chief recovery officer will now be able to terminate a payment arrangement if they are of the opinion that a person's circumstances have changed and they are of the opinion that the person is now able to pay the debt.

The paperwork required by the fines unit to enter into a payment arrangement has increased in the past few years. It is no longer simply a matter of requesting a payment arrangement and having it granted. Individuals need to demonstrate that they would suffer financial hardship should they be required to pay their debt up-front, so it is not easy for a payment arrangement to be granted.

I understand that payment arrangements would only be terminated in circumstances whereby the CRO becomes aware of a person's increased capacity to pay. However, I would hope that the CRO would consult with individuals before terminating such agreements.