Fines doubled in parking spot crackdown
CALLOUS motorists who steal disability parking bays at shopping centres would be the target of tough new fines under a proposal to give parking inspectors more powers.
The State Government has been urged to investigate bolstering the authority of councils so they can dish out fines on private properties to drivers who illegally park in spaces reserved for people with disabilities.
It comes amid new government legislation that would significantly increase the fine for the offence from $266 to $533.
A parliamentary committee examining the legislation has warned that the uncertainty about whether a council officer is allowed to access areas like shopping centres would make it harder for them to enforce the new fine.
In its report, the Transport and Public Works Committee said the government should consider the possibility of making local government employees "authorised persons" under the road rules so they could impose the fines on private property.
"The committee considers that the uncertainty regarding council officers' ability to access areas such as shopping centres creates an additional impediment to enforcing the proposed amendments," the committee wrote.
"The committee considers that amendments allowing council officers additional access should be implemented."
Transport Minister Mark Bailey's office would not rule out the idea yesterday, but said councils were encouraged to enter into service agreements with private car park operators to enforce disability parking fines.
"Councils don't need any legislative changes to be able to enter these agreements with car park owners," Mr Bailey said.
"I've already written to local councils, major retailers, car park operators and shopping centre groups calling on them to adopt our tougher approach and to work with us to increase enforcement."
The committee also recommended the government hold a review within 12 months of the new fine regime to consider if demerit point penalties would be a better option to curb the number of offences.
Mr Bailey said the government's legislation already included plans for a 12-month review to look at "all issues".
"In Queensland, we focus demerit points on offences which have serious road safety impacts," he said.
The State Government is working to have the new fine in place by midway through this year.
A Brisbane City Council spokeswoman said the council was not currently enforcing parking rules on any private property, and that it would require an agreement from the land owner to do so.