Common sense withdrawal of COVID-19 fines
The Law Society of NSW welcomes the decision by Revenue NSW to withdraw more than thirty thousand COVID-19 fines following a Supreme Court hearing today.
The withdrawal of the fines follows an acceptance by the Government before the Supreme Court that at least two fines issued for a failure to comply with a direction in relation to the enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions were issued invalidly.
Our members welcome the commitment by Revenue NSW to refund relevant fines already paid and to stop enforcing the fines, including by the imposition of driver licence restrictions and garnishee orders.
This decision leaves unresolved the status of more than 29,000 fines that may impose a disproportionate burden of penalties on vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
Many of the top fifteen per-capita locations where fines were issued during the Delta outbreak have high Aboriginal populations. These include the top three of Walgett, Brewarrina and Wilcannia. Eleven of these communities are counted among communities suffering the state’s highest level of social disadvantage.
We encourage Revenue NSW to review all remaining COVID-19 related fines, especially any imposed on children.
In April this year, the Law Society cautioned the NSW Government that many fines would have inevitably been issued incorrectly, especially given the frequent and rapid amendments to Public Health Orders during the height of the pandemic.