Media Releases

22
Oct

Worst IT disaster in over a decade as Fines Victoria system crashes

The IT system to collect Victoria’s fines and manage warrants has reportedly collapsed and could take over a year to fix.

The overseas IT system was purchased by the Andrews Labor Government in 2016 and according to the provider’s media release would ‘help to improve and streamline operations’ but has instead been plagued with failures and cost blowouts.

The Herald Sun reports that 123,000 penalties had not been paid and $685 million in Magistrates’ Court penalties remain outstanding.

The Liberal Nationals have been warning of the potential IT mess for years, yet the Andrews Labor Government has done nothing but sit back and watch the worst IT project in over a decade play out and crash.

Fines Victoria’s IT system has now cost $59.18 million – a budget blowout of 37.5%. The time blowout has also now reached more than three years overdue.

Comments attributable to Shadow Attorney-General, Edward O’Donohue:

“This is the Myki mess on steroids, but it is far worse because it reaches into every single thing that Fines Victoria does.

“Every State Government service that relies on this revenue, council services, the justice system are all now in jeopardy because this is a fundamental failure that goes to the heart of government.

“The Andrews Labor Government has already run out of money so this will inevitably mean new or higher taxes to clean up its mess.

“This has the potential to cost Victorians hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars which will mean additional costs to services already under financial pressure like healthcare.”

 ——————————————————————————————————————–

Quotes 2018-19 Department of Justice and Community Safety Annual Report

P3.  Secretary’s Foreword

“Reforms to the Victorian fines system have improved options for vulnerable people, while increasing the timeliness of fine payments through more efficient and effective collection and enforcement. “

P 29. Section  Outputs initiatives and projects

“Output: Infringements and warrants Modernising the infringement system to strengthen road safety • Continued implementation of reforms to the fines system in Victoria, which will lead to more efficient and effective collection and enforcement options, with improved options for vulnerable people to deal with their fines. The fines reforms have led to an increase in the timely payment of fines. “

TIMELINE: 

  • The commencement date for Fines Victoria under the Fines Reform Act was to be 30 June 2016.
  • On 9 March 2016, the Victorian Parliament passed the Fines Reform and Infringements Acts Amendment Act 2016 (Vic) which extended the commencement date for Fines Victoria to 31 December 2017.

The extended commencement date was ‘to allow sufficient time for the government and enforcement agencies to implement a raft of regulatory, operational and organisational changes’.

  • On 12 December 2017, the Victorian Government passed the Fines Reform Amendment Act 2017 (Vic). This Act again extended the default commencement date of the Fines Reform Act, this time to 31 May 2018.

In the second reading speech the then Attorney-General, the Hon Martin Pakula MP, explained the extension to the default commencement date: While it is intended that the Fines Reform Act commence on 31 December 2017 as currently planned, the bill will extend the default commencement date of the act to 31 May 2018 to allow sufficient time to consider the changes to the VIEW [IT] system necessary to support these reforms and to maintain the integrity of Victoria’s infringements system. The extended default commencement date will provide the flexibility necessary to ensure that the commencement of the Fines Reform Act aligns with the commencement of the VIEW system.

  • In a 3AW interview in July 2018, the Director of Fines Victoria said all IT functionality would be fully operational by February 2019.
  • At a meeting between the Victorian Ombudsman staff and Fines Victoria in January 2019, Fines Victoria reported that full IT functionality would not be achieved before the end of June 2019.
  • On the 17th April 2019, the Victorian Ombudsman reported that in 2018 they received 605 complaints, a 74% annual increase, about Fines Victoria. Some of the comments in the report from innocent Victorians make troubling reading and reflects very poorly on the Andrews Labor Government.

In one case, a 77 year old pensioner said they were at a loss as what to do next as he couldn’t afford legal action.

Another complainant, a woman who was 7 months pregnant, also complained of the distress caused by the harassment of legal threats from Fines Victoria.  She was then put in the position of having to pay the incorrectly issued fine just to stop the harassment and stress.

Another Victorian who was rightfully fined in the first instance paid that fine but was then wrongly accused by Fines Victoria of still owing money.  She also accused the agency of harassment which caused enormous distress.

  • On the 18th June 2019, Local Government Minister, Adem Somyurek, said of Labor’s implementation of Fines Victoria: “If I can just say – the debacle and the bungle is a matter for the Attorney General. It clearly sits within her portfolio.”
  • In July 2019, it was revealed that road safety measures conducted by the Sheriff’s office have been almost non-existent. In the financial year 2018-19, just 5 roadblocks were conducted by the Sheriff’s office, compared to 99 in 2017-18, due to the mismanaged roll out of Fines Victoria.

These further bungles come at the same time it has been confirmed yet another senior bureaucrat, Fines Victoria chief Emma Catford, has moved on from her current role.

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