19 Sep 2008

Minister's plan to clamp down on fine dodgers

7:28 am on 19 September 2008

People with unpaid fines could have their debt details passed on to credit agencies as part of a new plan to combat fine dodgers.

Drivers licence suspensions and wider vehicle seizures are also among suggestions by the Courts Minister Rick Barker.

He says as things stand, lenders are unaware of whether people have large amounts of unpaid fines or reparations.

Mr Barker says changing the system will mean people can make payment arrangements before being taken to court, but mechanisms should be put in place to deal more effectively with those who don't.

He says the proposals would target people who see fines as "soft credit" and put other priorities, like hire purchases, ahead of paying them.

But the Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff says passing details to credit agencies would set a precedent.

She says it would involve extensive matching of public sector information with commercial information.

Ms Shroff says the proposal will need to be carefully worked through to ensure there are no adverse effects on people's privacy.