Offenders owe state big time

Member for Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg
Member for Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg john mccutcheon

WARWICK offenders have amassed huge debts through their inability to abide by the law, with the State Government left waiting to collect its dues.

The State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) is trying to recover a staggering $1.85 million owed in court-ordered fines from Warwick residents alone.

This figure is a fraction of the state's entire debt, which at the end of June this year had almost reach $310 million.

Member for Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg said he was not surprised the Warwick debt had reached that level and said SPER debt was a huge problem.

He added while most people did the right thing and paid their fines on time, there were those who flouted the law and refused to pay.

"SPER debt is a significant problem and unfortunately for some people it gets added on top of existing debt," he said.

"There are a lot of people who are serial offenders because the consequences of not paying are not relevant or harsh enough.

"The whole issue of debt recovery is a huge challenge and if we lived in an ideal world, people would pay their fines."

Although there are measures to help with debt collection, including licence suspensions, wage garnisheeing and car immobilisation, Mr Springborg said these were only effective if implemented.

"There are a whole lot of processes that are supposed to exist and they are meant to help in recovering fines but for some people that doesn't work," he said.

"Then the question is whether those things are happening."

Mr Springborg said the government was trying to address its ballooning debt.

"Where the former Labor government failed to address the blow-out in SPER debt, the Newman government has acted to tackle the problem," he said.

"The Newman government has moved SPER from the Department of Justice to the Office of State Revenue - an agency whose core business is the collection of revenue.

"We are also in the process of implementing our election commitment to use mercantile agents in the recovery of significant amounts of money."

In addition to licence suspension and wage garnisheeing, those who refuse to pay their SPER debt can also risk such penalties as the seizure and sale of their property, and ultimately arrest and imprisonment if the State chooses to act.

Topics:  court order, sper



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