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The State Penalities Enforcement Registry ("SPER") in Queensland are reporting that debts held by them are now in excess of $40 million in the last 12 months.
SPER reported a reduction of 7.5% in monies collected compared to this time last year ($275.2 million compared to $297.4 million) with many indicating the reduction was due to the widespread suspension of debt collection following the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie in 2017. The decline in collection of revenue was coupled with an addtional $39.174 million increase in debts held by SPER over the past 12 months with unpaid fines and tolls now totalling $1.211 billion as of 31/12/2017.
A spokeperson for SPER said, "If not for the cyclone’s impact SPER was on track to achieve collections to match its record of almost $300 million collected in 2015-16. The suspension lasted several months in some areas as communities worked to recover from the cyclone and subsequent flooding. Treasury has estimated collections for the 2017-18 financial year for SPER of $284 million, consistent with collections achieved in 2016-17. SPER takes a tailored approach, depending on the person’s entire debt history and circumstances, and selects the appropriate enforcement actions to recover the debt."
In response however, Opposition Treasury spokesperson, Tim Mander, said, "There are lots of people who unintentionally or accidentally get caught in the SPER process. We need to be focusing less on hassling those people and spend more time and effort going after the real fine dodgers. Information from last year shows SPER’s 100 largest debtors owing more than $17 million.”
Insured losses due to Cyclone Debbie were estimated by Insurance Council Australia at $1.3 billion with 47,000 claims being made and a total economic loss of $2.4 billion.
Source: The Courier Mail - January 2018