John Darley, Advance SA MLC (5AA 9.33-9.38) Victims of Crime fund
(Byner: Most of the traffic expiations in this state are much higher than anywhere else in Australia, we’ve been down that road a number of times and nobody’s ever done anything to fix it … the Marshall Government have only been in office since March but there are no signs that they’re going to change anything or wish to, but the other part of this is that … when you pay an expiation including parking there is a Victims of Crime component that goes into a fund … a lot of lawyers are not very happy about this and it’s not just the lawyers, it’s people they represent, people that often the lawyers will help to try and get money from that fund if they’re entitled and even if they are getting a cent is not easy … John Darley … wants to do something about this. John this has been on your purview for a while hasn’t it?)
Yeah it has … it’s a bit confusing at the present time because everyone knows that if you receive a parking fine that’s provided by the council our understanding is that there’s no Victims of Crime levy on that but if the fine is not expiated and the matter goes to court then a Victim of Crime levy can be provided for that.
(Byner: Well it will be because you get a criminal conviction.)
Yeah that’s right.
(Byner: That’s if you don’t win the case.)
… yeah, and the other thing is if you don’t win the case you can ask for a conviction not to be recorded because the moment a conviction is recorded you have trouble moving out of the country.
(Byner: Yes … the fund as far as you know, there’s millions of dollars in it, how much is in the fund?)
… I’m not sure how much, there’s a lot of money in the fund and the fund rarely pays out any money to victims.
(Byner: … I got a note from Morry Bailes who’s another one of Adelaide’s reasonably well-known lawyers … he says, “unless things have changed we have significant reserves in the Victims of Crime fund and it is difficult to understand or justify levying motorists for this” …)
Tony Kerin, Lawyer, Grope Hamilton (5AA 9.36-9.40) Victims of Crime fund
(Byner: Tony Kerin … what’s the latest that you know on this?)
… I agree with John and Morry … the whole point of it is to have a victim who benefits from the fund as a result of that levy that’s imposed in nearly every criminal conviction, whether there’s a victim or not … it doesn’t stand rational analysis to impose a levy where there is no real victim, the parking fine is an example of that … you could argue the council’s a victim but … there’s a hollow ring to it … in my view those funds in that fund should be used to pay out the people who are real victims of crime at probably higher levels than what they’re getting currently.
Back to John Darley
(Byner: John, you go to any defence lawyer they will tell you that getting any money out of that fund is really difficult …)
It’s like getting blood out of a stone.
(Byner: Well yes, and again, what is the real purpose of that fund, is it just to make the budgets look better with plenty of cash reserves?)
Well it shouldn’t be for that reason, it should be entirely for victims … who’ve suffered as a result of a crime.
(Byner:… in theory it is but given that so little is paid out you do wonder …)
Oh it would certainly make the budget look better … it’s like a number of funds within Government, the higher the fund the better the budget looks.
(Byner: What are you calling for?)
I’m going to have a talk to the Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman, about this and see if we can get some sort of solution to the whole thing. I agree with Tony that … there is no victim when it comes to parking offences.
(Byner: Well of course unless you question it and if you lose it …)
Well then the person who loses is the victim. [Laughter]
(Byner: … we already have the issue where our fines are higher than anywhere else in Australia.)
Oh absolutely, much higher.
(Byner: … has anybody wanted to do anything about that and what’s the reason, have you ever asked why?)
No I haven’t, Bob Such was the person that was vitally involved in this and didn’t have much luck, but … we’ll have a look at it for sure.
(Byner: … so you’re going to talk to Vickie, in fact she’ll be on in the next hour on another issue … you’re going to talk to her about what, precisely?)
About … why parking fines attract a Victims of Crime levy when in fact there is no victim.
(Byner: Alright …)
Back to Tony Kerin
(Byner: Tony Kerin … how long does it take in general if somebody has had an injury, particularly medical stuff and that’s what it’s supposed to be about, how long does it take to get any money out of the fund?)
It generally depends on the stability of the injury so you can assess it appropriately but the assessment process is much different to the normal assessment of damages in common law … hence they get a lot less money even though the fund payout levels have increased in recent times it’s an exponential one, so it doesn’t really reflect sometimes the degree of injury that a victim suffers as a result of a crime.
(Byner: Do you believe that we need some reform in this area?)
… John’s point is a really good one … it’s broader than just parking fines, there are other types of offences where there’s no real victim and yet there’s a levy imposed on, quite often impoverished people in the first place, or certainly … in difficult financial circumstances, so it just becomes another impost on a person …
(Byner: … I was doing some reading last night on this and when Michael O’Brien was the relevant Minister going back in the previous Government their argument was, it’s too difficult to work out administratively what’s a crime and what’s not so let’s just treat everyone the same’ … that’s exactly what they were saying … it was easier for us, hence my comment to you that we do things that are easy for the bureaucracy not necessarily just for the people … I just thought it would be worth flagging this, this morning, because again nobody is saying that if you do the wrong thing you shouldn’t cop it, but … there are two things we must address; the fact that our fines are infinitely higher than anywhere else in Australia for the same offence … we’re talking here traffic offences in general, and that the … category from which broadly attract a Victims of Crime levy needs to be much narrower.)