Expiation Notices

25 May 2016
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Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 15:14 ): Today, I want to canvass some concerns I have with the inflexibility and lack of compassion being shown in dealing with expiations handed down by state government authorities in South Australia. 

I first want to discuss my concerns regarding an expiation notice administered to a Marino resident whose husband took seriously ill on 18 February 2016. My constituent's husband's health deteriorated suddenly at home and, after calling Ashford Hospital, she was advised to transport him there immediately. 

It subsequently turned out that her husband was extremely ill, having contracted a rare strain of E. coli, which left him in a critical condition for some time. There is no doubt that my constituent did the right thing by rushing her husband to hospital. On her way to Ashford Hospital, she drove through a fixed speed camera at the intersection between Sturt Road and Morphett Road at Dover Gardens at 74 km/h in a 60 km/h zone. This resulted in my constituent receiving a fine of $417. 

My constituent appealed the fine on the basis of the extreme pressure she was under when she was caught speeding. She included a letter from her husband's specialist and hoped that the fine would be waived on compassionate grounds, but it was not. In fact, the letter she received from the manager of the Expiation Notice Branch told her: 

While I appreciate the urgency of the situation, I am unable to excuse the speed on the basis of a medical emergency due to the high speed recorded. Had the alleged speed been lower, favourable consideration may have been given to your submission. 

I find this to be an outrageous example of an unfeeling bureaucracy lacking all compassion. My constituent was undertaking action which may ultimately have saved her husband's life, and it is not an exaggeration to say that he could have been dying when she rushed him to hospital. For this, she was given a $417 fine, which is nothing short of disgraceful. 

My second scenario concerns an 18-year-old Hallett Cove resident who on 17 December 2015 received a fine for travelling on a train without a ticket. He boarded the train with a Metrocard, a $5 note and $4 in coins, and he does not have a debit or credit card. Upon validating his Metrocard, he was alerted to the fact that there were insufficient funds on the card for the trip and he proceeded immediately to the onboard electronic charging machines. 

Upon looking at the ticket machine, he discovered that it does not take notes, something which I find to be ridiculous in the extreme, and that it requires a minimum of $5 in coins. So, not only do these machines not take notes but they require you to be making a purchase of at least $5 in coins. My constituent decided that he had no choice but to go in to Adelaide central train station and purchase a ticket at the customer service booth. 

When he reached Adelaide station, he exited the train and made his way to those booths with the correct fare that he required to purchase the ticket, but was apprehended by transit police who asked him to present a valid ticket. At this point, he was unable to do so, but he showed them that he had the correct money and was going to the customer service booth to purchase the ticket. The police, again in an example of unfeeling bureaucracy, handed him a $220 fine. 

My constituent appealed the fine on the ground that it was trifling and had this appeal ultimately rejected. I have looked at the Expiation of Offences Act 1996, and section 4(2)(b) defines trifling as: 

the alleged offender could not, in all the circumstances, reasonably have averted committing the offence… 

I would suggest that in this circumstance, given that he had the money but the machines would not take the money, it certainly was impossible for him to avoid committing this offence. These are two examples of administration by the state government which completely lacks compassion, does not meet the values that we would expect of our Public Service and has left two, I believe, quite innocent members of my community much worse off, when both were trying to do the right thing. 

Extracted from Hansard