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Debt collectors on the horizon

Tim Nicholls is set to chase up SPER debt around the Gympie region.
Tim Nicholls is set to chase up SPER debt around the Gympie region. Greg Miller

THE man controlling Queensland's purse strings plans to engage a professional debt collector by the end of the year to recover $771 million from flagrant fine evaders - $2.3 million from the Gympie region.

Treasurer Tim Nicholls said he was now investigating whether he needed legislative change to send contracted money men to knock on people's doors and seize their assets.

He said the Australian Tax Office had recovered $400 million in outstanding taxation debts in the first year it used debt collectors and he wanted to begin a similar trial for the State Penalties and Enforcement Registry by the end of 2012.

Mr Nicholls said moving to a "more vigorous debt collection system" to target "chronic and repeat defaulters" could generate $48 million in additional revenue for the state.

There is speculation there will be a generous chunk of money to aid the scheme when the State Budget is revealed on September 11. When asked about whether people in the lower socio-economic demographic, who frequent the court system, would be forced to pay, Mr Nicholls said departments would have to make policy decisions on individual cases.

"I think most people would think, irrespective of your capacity to pay, you shouldn't go around treating the SPER system you can continue to use as an unlimited credit card so you can continue to park where you like, speed when you like and just say 'sorry I can't afford to pay' and get out of paying it," he said.

"They get a fine and just keep putting it onto their SPER debt and never pay it off."

While the biggest debts were in areas with the largest populations, Mr Nicholls said the figures in regional Queensland were also disturbing.

Gympie Times

Topics:  debt collectors, fines, gympie, state penalties and enforcement registry


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