More Vic councils to offer fine refunds

·2-min read

Thousands of Victorians stung with parking fines could be eligible for refunds after more councils were caught unlawfully outsourcing their review process to private companies.

Five councils, a university and a government agency will set up refund schemes after Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass found they acted illegally when subcontracting fine review decisions.

The more than 17,400 impacted parking fines were issued from 2006 to 2019 by Geelong, Mildura, Frankston, Bass Coast and Hume City councils as well as Parks Victoria and Monash University.

Ms Glass encouraged motorists who had unsuccessfully challenged a fine in these areas over that period to contact the councils or agencies and check their eligibility for a refund.

"Tens of thousands of people have been affected by this saga, and I am pleased that all agencies concerned have now agreed to set up refund schemes," she wrote in the report, tabled in state parliament on Wednesday.

"Fines are part of life and if people do the wrong thing they should be fined - but it needs to be done properly, fairly and in accordance with legislation."

It takes the number of bodies caught up in the scandal to 12, with Glen Eira, Port Phillip and Stonnington councils effectively found to have "rubber-stamped" their contractor's fine recommendations.

Despite disagreeing with the ombudsman's findings, published in the original report released in February 2020, the Melbourne councils agreed to pay back 204,000 parking fines issued from 2006 to 2016 and valued at $20 million.

Monash and Kingston councils had committed to refund about 46,000 fines, reviewed from 2006 to 2016, prior to the report being released.

"Every so often, I table a report suspecting what we discovered during our investigation is just the tip of the iceberg - this has again proven to be the case," Ms Glass said.

The implicated bodies have told the ombudsman they now review all fines internally, while the Department of Justice and Community Safety is also investigating outsourcing practices at other enforcement agencies.

PARKING FINE REFUNDS:

* City of Greater Geelong: 6400 fines issued between 2009 and 2018

* Frankston City Council: 8500 fines issued between November 2008 and April 2014

* Mildura Rural City Council: 2500 fines issued between July 2007 and May 2019

* Bass Coast Shire Council: unknown number of fines issued between 2007 and 2009

* Parks Victoria: unknown number of fines issued at Albert Park Reserve between 2006 and March 2019

* Hume City Council: unknown number of fines issued up to December 2016

* Monash University: unknown number of fines issued up to 2019