In March, Toll Redress made it’s first public appearance in a Queensland government inquiry into the State Penalties Enforcement Amendment Bill 2017. This inquiry was into the Bill that would amend the State Penalties Enforcement Act 1999.
The amendment proposed a number of ‘customer centric approaches’ to help reduce the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) debt pool. Such approaches included:
• Provide improved non-monetary debt finalisation options for people in hardship
• Facilitate case management of debtors rather than the management of their individual debts
• Establish fairer, simpler and more consistent fee arrangements
• Create efficiencies in the management of disputes
• Enhance information sharing between the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) and other prescribed agencies for penalty debt management purposes and improve SPER’s information collection and disclosure provisions.
These approaches may have some benefit to motorists. However, it is our position that the amendment missed the mark in solving or even attempting to solve the actual problems associated with Queensland’s SPER debt pool. Unpaid tolls that eventually end up with SPER equate to $232.6 million, which is nearly 20% of the SPER debt pool. Despite SPER representatives stating that unpaid tolls were the largest cause of SPER debt, they failed to address the issue or provide possible solutions.
There was no specific Terms of Reference at this inquiry, and our aim was to make the tolling system a principal point of discussion when analysing the substantial amount of debt people currently have with SPER.
Transurban (TCL) is Australia’s largest toll road operator, and controls 13 toll roads in the country. One important topic we raised was Transurban’s administration fees, and their impact on SPER debt. Administration fees should reflect reasonable cost of issuing a notice for, and collecting the unpaid toll and administration charge for the toll. If it was found that currently, Transurban’s administration fees do not reflect reasonable cost, we gave two suggestions to help protect motorists and immediately see a reduction in debt held with SPER:
a) Stop Transurban from charging their current administration fees, and
b) Immediately withdraw all PINs with DTMR and SPER that arose from the administration fees that were against the Transport Infrastructure Act.