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HomeLatest NewsMaybe, Minister: Ticketless parking fine scheme to forge on, for now

Maybe, Minister: Ticketless parking fine scheme to forge on, for now

Northern Beaches Council says it is “considering” a formal request from Finance Minister Courtney Houssos to make changes to its freshly implemented ticketless parking fine scheme.

The scheme, introduced just this month and detailed in this article by Manly Observer, makes do with physical parking tickets and outsources the role of notification to Revenue NSW in the form of a letter or email.

Despite being the minister responsible for Revenue NSW, Minister Courtney Houssos has publicly expressed concern over the arrangement, declaring that the absence of physical parking tickets has denied drivers the opportunity to take their own photos as evidence to successfully dispute an infringement where they feel it’s been improperly applied.

Parking along Manly beachfront. Photo: Kim Smee

The minister has written to Northern Beaches Council, and all other councils in NSW, requesting a pre-printed fine alert be considered. The minister also advised the 80 or more councils in NSW that have not yet adopted the system that they will be prevented from doing so until more consultation is undertaken.

The first page of a letter from Finance Minister Courtney Houssos sent to Northern Beaches Council highlighting concerns over the paperless parking fine system her own department introduced.
Minister Courtney Houssos

Minister Houssos’ letter formally requests councils to provide an on the spot, written notification to drivers – for example, a small pre-printed card on their windscreen – when they issue a fine.

“This change would ensure drivers know they have been booked by a parking officer upon returning to their car,” she wrote.  “It will also ensure they can capture evidence – including photos and details of where they parked – thereby allowing them to seek review of the fine more easily, if required.”

The key concerns in relation to ticketless parking fines are:

  • the difficulty in gathering evidence in the event the driver wants to seek a review of the fine
  • the reduced impact of a fine to act as an immediate deterrent and influence behaviour, and
  • that a driver can receive multiple parking infringements before receiving a notification via post or the Service NSW app.”

Given Council has only had the system implemented for a week, we asked how it will respond to the request.

“Given the financial pressures Council is under, and the need to find efficiencies where we can to reduce pressures on rates, I think it would be sensible for us to first try out this innovation and then see if the sky does in fact fall iN – Cr Sarah Grattan”

A spokesperson told us Council is “considering the guidance”.

The council spokesperson reiterated that the system allows drivers to receive more information about the offence than previously. When an offence is detected and a ticket is issued, parking officers take photographic evidence at the site which is then transferred to the Revenue NSW server and can be reviewed by the driver with full details of the offence, they said.

For those with grounds to appeal, having this evidence can assist.

They also said the new system was more environmentally sustainable.

Council says it continues to issue hardcopy fines in some instances. For now.

The decision to move to a ticketless system was an operational one, and therefore decided by Council staff, not elected councillors, who were informed via memo in mid January and again a week before its introduction.  Some councillors either missed the initial circular or have responded to constituent feedback and are now looking to back out of the change.

Cr Michael Gencher, who recently defected to the Liberal party, will be submitting a motion to Council next Tuesday requesting Council look at the implications of reversing the decision to move to paperless, and consider the option of a pre-printed notification, among other aspects.

It’s worth noting the motion is calling for a report, not for an immediate pause or reversal, yet.

Cr Michael Gencher

“In response to mounting concerns, there is a growing consensus within the community advocating for a reversal of the decision to abolish the ticketless parking system. Critics contend that this decision not only neglects the council’s responsibility to prioritise the welfare of its residents but also jeopardises the trust placed in the fines enforcement mechanism,” Cr Gencher writes in his draft notice of motion.

“The recent remarks by Minister for Finance Courtney Houssos, highlighting the inadequacies of the ticketless parking system, and the subsequent recommendation urging councils to furnish drivers with on-the-spot written notifications, such as a conveniently placed pre-printed card on windshields upon issuing fines, only serve to emphasise the imperative for Northern Beaches Council to reassess its stance.”

The motion appears to have support from his peers, including Jose Menano-Pires, who defected in the reverse to Cr Gencher (from the Liberal Party to Your Northern Beaches in the last election). Jose heads up the Transport Committee and says while he trusts the Council staff to make the best operational decisions, he needs to respond to the concerns of his constituents and many felt it was an unfair approach.

Cr Vincent De Luca, an independent, is also critical of the move to paperless. “As a Solicitor, it concerns me greatly that a person could be charged with an offence yet not know why in the absence of video or photographic evidence as is provided via red light and speed cameras or on-the-spot real time advice as to an offence,” he said.  “At least when paper fines are put on windscreens it immediately alerts the offender to the alleged offence and of wrongly fined they can challenge it.”

Cr Sarah Grattan

But there won’t be unanimous support for the motion, with Cr Sarah Grattan calling the noise about paperless parking a “storm in a tea cup”.

“It’s been a long time since speeding tickets were handed out in person, mobile phone detection cameras also send automated fines,” she reasoned. “Given the financial pressures Council is under, and the need to find efficiencies where we can to reduce pressures on rates, I think it would be sensible for us to first try out this innovation and then see if the sky does in fact fall in.”


Council’s March 26 meeting agenda will be available soon here. 


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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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