393. Hon ALISON XAMON to the Leader of the House representing the Attorney General:
I refer to fines enforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
(1) How many warrants of commitment for a fine default have been issued during the COVID-19 emergency period?
(2) Has the Attorney General taken any action to ensure warrants of commitment to imprison fine defaulters are not issued during this period?
(3) If no to (2), why not?
Hon SUE ELLERY replied:
I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.
(1) The registrar of the Fines Enforcement Registry has issued 497 warrants of commitment for 48 individuals for fine defaults since the COVID-19 emergency came into effect on 16 March 2020.
(3) The Attorney General is not empowered to intervene as warrants of commitment for fine defaulters are issued under the Fines, Penalties and Infringement Notices Enforcement Act 1994 by the registrar of the Fines Enforcement Registry in their capacity as an officer of the Magistrates Court. The Fines, Penalties and Infringement Notices Enforcement Amendment Bill 2019, currently before this house, represents the government’s reforms in this area. If passed, the bill will appropriately remove the power to issue warrants of commitment from the registrar and require an inquiry to be undertaken by a magistrate to determine whether a warrant of commitment should be issued.