Crime Levy Passes Queensland Parliament

Updated August 02, 2012 12:52:13 | ABC Online

The State Government says it expects to raise more than $12 million a year by charging convicted criminals a court levy.

New laws passed in Parliament last night will force convicted offenders to pay $300 for Supreme and District Court matters.

The levy in the Magistrates Court will be $100.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has told the House it will be imposed on top of other court penalties.

“There is provision for the offender levy to be paid on the day of the court, or registered with the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER),” he said.

“By utilising SPER the government is expecting to collect in excess of $12 million per annum from the offenders.”

Mr Bleijie says the revenue generated will go towards front-line services and help to support victims of serious crimes.

“Under this initiative offenders will contribute to the justice system in recognition of the cost of their crimes to the Queensland community,” he said.

Juvenile offenders will be exempt from the fee.

Terry O’Gorman from the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties says the levy is a gimmick that fails to take a person’s income into account.

“The Attorney-General kept saying levy, levy, levy [but] that’s just spin,” Mr O’Gorman said.

“This is a tax for you to go to court, a gimmick.

“Even fines when they’re imposed take into account a person’s ability to pay – this will impact heavily and wrongly on the poor.”

Gold Coast lawyer Bill Potts agrees with Mr O’Gorman.

“The government is using the courts of Queensland like a giant ATM machine,” Mr Potts said.

“What happens is the great bulk of people who come before the courts are not silver-tail, large-scale defrauders.

“They’re the poor, the weak and often the people that are society’s most vulnerable.”