The public health response team in Queensland is recording a massive amount of profit as a result of Covid restrictions imposed on the population in Australia. The source of the income is the State Penalties Enforcement Register (SPER). The staff for the department has reported 3046 fines that were levied during the Covid lockdown due to people and businesses flouting rules that are still unpaid. The total amount recoverable is a whopping $5.2Mn.
SPER’s statements Have Fueled Controversy
As per a more detailed report, the fines include 2755 businesses and individuals who had been caught breaking the rules while the covid pandemic was raging in Australia. Approximately 56.4% of these fines have been fully paid or are being paid as per a plan.
The controversial threat arises for the remaining 43.6%. SPER had reportedly resorted to “active enforcement” regarding 18.4$ of these fines. These amount to a total of approximately $1Mn. Now, a SPER spokesperson stated that this “active enforcement” can involve “garnishing bank accounts or wages, registering charges over property, or suspending driver licenses.” In other words, residents can stand to lose almost all of their personal assets if they have unpaid Covid fines, and should SPER decide to strictly enforce them.
The remaining 25.2% of the fines were still being investigated, or they could still be paid without subject to any further actions. The figures were published on the official SPER website. The figures are updated till 31st September.
SPER was established by the Treasury of Queensland nearly twenty years ago. By the end of October, the department had $1.29Bn as debt as per its records. However, each month saw it recover over $50Mn. Nevertheless, SPER is not the only department that has talked about enforcing such drastic actions to recover Covid fines.
SPER Is Not The Only One
Queensland Health is another body that is resorting to an unusual method. They are employing private collectors of debt to get back $5.7Mn. The amount is from 2045 hotel quarantine invoices that are significantly overdue. A spokeswoman from Queensland Health stated that Queenslanders are correct to expect travelers to pay the bill incurred during their quarantine at a hotel. Travelers should not be expecting taxpayers’ money to go towards their bills.
However, the spokeswoman did not clarify the amount of commission the private collectors will make according to the arrangement. By 8th October, there had been 44,350 invoices issued for quarantining at hotels in Queensland. 10.8% of them were very overdue. Those that had failed to pay up or apply for waivers, would be passed on to the private collectors.
The good news is that no property has been reported to be seized so far.