Local councils in NSW are now completely addicted to parking fines, having raised nearly $200 million in the 2009-2010 financial year alone and it just gets worse every year. These outrageous statistics have prompted the NSW Business Chamber to call for an immediate review of parking fines to curb profiteering from shoppers in popular shopping areas by overzealous councils. Businesses on street fronts are suffering from loss of clientele because shoppers are too scared to park in those areas and are shunning street parking in preference to shopping centres with off-street parking.
The City of Sydney Council generated much of its revenue from parking infringements. It raised a total of $43 million in fines in 2010, four times as much as the next council on the list, Waverley City Council. Sydney City Council collected $8 million from more than 95,000 vehicle users who were fined for parking longer than allowed.
NSW Business Chamber spokesman Paul Ritchie stated that many councils had become aggressive revenue-raisers when it came to parking. "Although I sympathise with councils who are experiencing limited revenue and increasing community expectations, the escalation of parking offences as a form of revenue is just harming our local shopping strips," he said.
"Councils are getting sneakier, with hidden cameras, laptops and all sorts of electronic surveillance. In the case of the City of Sydney, there's clearly an anti-car agenda in play and that does have an impact on businesses." He observed that not only were councils losing community goodwill, local shopping strips were also being disadvantaged as residents took advantage of free parking in the larger shopping centres.
Former LNP politician Mike Baird wanted Manly Council to review its beachside parking policies, with swimmers and surfers being fined as early as 7:00am. "People are getting fined as early as 7:00am while they go for a surf - it's got nothing to do with safety or traffic turnover," he said. "Parking fines have become a blatant cash grab." Of course Baird did absolutely nothing about stopping the parking fine racket when he was NSW Premier, merely demonstrating his two-faced hypocrisy.
In 2020, City of Sydney parking rangers called on the council to scrap a controversial 'quota system' which they claim requires them to hand out a certain number of fines per shift or miss out on yearly pay rises. Rangers have stated that they are being pushed to breaking point to try and meet the required number of fines even if there are no or few cars parked illegally on their 'beats'.
Under the council's policy, rangers who fail to meet an average of 17 to 21 tickets per shift over 12 months are subjected to performance management reviews. The council does not dispute that this is its policy but denies that it constitutes a quota system. It also denies that this is a revenue-raising policy. "Rangers who consistently fall below the unit average are supported to meet the expectations of their role, so they may continue to deliver the services the community expects," a council spokesperson said.
This is how the quota system works. Each month, the number of fines a ranger hands out per shift is compared to the average of all 150 City of Sydney rangers. If rangers fall 25% below the average, they are placed on a performance improvement plan. Those under review miss out on a yearly salary increase.
Rangers say that the system encourages fines to be dished out, rather than warnings and also unfairly penalises rangers who are assigned to quiet beats. Beats near construction sites, offices, universities and shops usually produced the most fines, while residential areas often provided slim pickings. One ranger confessed, "In some beats, a ranger can walk their beat over and over and still not find a non-complying vehicle, due to vehicles displaying residential permits. The quota system is driving rangers to a breaking point."
Despite all the ridiculous denials, there is absolutely no doubt that the City of Sydney is operating a parking infringement quota system. It means that parking rangers are threatened with loss of salary increases if they don't meet the quota. Obviously the rangers are going to issue parking tickets to ensure that they meet their quota and not lose pay rises. Therefore they will stitch up motorists with parking tickets, even if motorists have not violated parking restrictions, simply because they know that most motorists cannot prove that they overstayed at parking meters or spaces under parking time limits. They rely on the fact that motorists tend to grit their teeth and pay the fines, rather than waste a day or two appealing the fines in court and possibly lose anyway.
This parking ticket quota system operates in most local council jurisdictions and can only be described as a racket, more like organised crime, being a means of extorting money from hapless motorists. Knowing that this racket is occurring all over Australia, there should be a Royal Commission to enquire into it and put a stop to this blatant scam. However, motorists do have ways of beating this racket.
Former Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle defended plans for a big increase in parking fees and rates in the city council's draft budget. The 2013-14 draft budget included plans for a 37.5% increase in parking fees and a 3.75% rate rise. The cost of parking in the Melbourne CBD for one hour was increased from $4 to $5.50 and parking restrictions were tightened in order to make it harder for motorists to comply with them.
Doyle stated that the city's revenue had dropped, in part because motorists were getting fewer parking fines. "There's a $10.5 million shortfall in parking revenue basically caused by compliance. People are following the rules, so our projected fines did not reach what we thought we were going to get," he said. "The increased parking fees and rates are expected to raise an extra $15 million."
So what did Melbourne City Council do? Did it congratulate motorists for complying with parking restrictions? Oh no, council took action to make it even more difficult to comply with those restrictions and thus entrap motorists into getting booked more often, in order to boost revenue from fines. Too many were following the rules so they needed to be changed. The council happily announced that through a little tinkering with the rules, the money was again flowing freely. The City of Melbourne credited timing differences on construction zones for helping it raise $500,000 more in parking meter revenue than predicted. The council had budgeted to get $11.9 million in the year to September 2015, but collected $12.4 million.
This disgraceful statement from former Lord Mayor Doyle and this blatant council scam proved that the real reason for parking meters is not to make parking spaces available to more motorists and to stop people parking all day in densely used areas, but is all about raising revenue, both from parking fees, but more importantly from fines. So all this time, councils have blatantly lied about the real reason for parking meters and parking restrictions. That is par for the course, just as state governments lie about the real reason for speed and red light cameras.
The alleged reason that councils always trot out for fining people for exceeding the parking time limitations is to deter this practice, but here was this disgraceful excuse for a politician Robert Doyle complaining that the council had to raise parking fees because too many people were actually complying with the parking restrictions. He was upset that more people were being conscientious and following the rules and this was cause for alarm.
What Doyle complained about was essentially the same as if a state premier complained that too many people were sticking to the speed limit and were not getting booked, so speed limits would be reduced even further and speeding penalties would be increased, in order to frustrate more motorists and lead them into being entrapped into being fined. And in fact this is exactly what happened in Melbourne, with speed limits being reduced to ludicrously low levels, along with a myriad of speed cameras having been installed to rake in the money. Bushranger Ned Kelly would be proud of these robbers.
Every council and every state government in Australia now relies on revenue from fines and they all do their best to entrap motorists in every way possible. It is a thorough disgrace that the very people that we elect to look after our interests seem to only be concerned at how many ways they can invent to rip us off. But there is a simple and easy remedy and one that I have suggested for many years. Simply do not park in places where rapacious councils and their rangers slap motorists with fines for the slightest reason.
If you need to go shopping, go to shopping centres and areas where there are no parking meters or onerous restrictions and there are plenty of those places around. If you need to go to the CBD, use public transport and never risk getting booked. If you need to pick something up from the CBD, use a cheap courier - it generally works out cheaper than driving to the CBD and parking. Motorists need to deal with these bastards masquerading as politicians and deny them the revenue that they covet and there are many ways to keep their money out of their grubby hands.
In November 2015, Stonnington City Council called parking contractor Tenix to account for failing to raise enough revenue in the last quarter. In a notice paper from 09 November, the council’s quarterly financial report outlined the projected $100,000 shortfall in parking control. Mayor Claude Ullin said "When Tenix won the right to operate our parking contract, they GUARANTEED that they would issue a minimum number of parking infringements each quarter. They fell short in the first quarter and they’ve said they will up patrols to make up the shortfall." Tenix stated that they will try to fix the problem and save their contract with Stonnington by increasing the hours inspectors work through having them work overtime to "rectify the situation".
So the truth is that Stonnington Council is running a racket in cahoots with Tenix and has co-opted the Victorian legal system with all its 'pretend' laws to perpetrate this scam. If there was a shortfall in parking penalties, it obviously meant that motorists were either complying with parking restrictions and not being booked as much or they were avoiding parking in the area.
But instead of being commended for this, Stonnington Council complained that motorists were obeying their parking regulations. It's hard to believe. It's like the cops saying, "Hey, we haven't caught enough people speeding this month, so we will order police to stitch them up, even if they didn't commit any offences." But that's what the cops actually do. I know of many cases where police wrongfully accused drivers of not wearing seat belts or holding their mobile phones while driving, when those drivers did not commit any offences. It was the old story of the cop's word against the motorist's word and of course unless a motorist has evidence to disprove the cop's lies, a magistrate almost invariably believes the cop.
The entire legal system that backs this racket has to be closed down. You cannot have a fair system where the people who are running the infringement system are also adjudicating whether infringements are valid. It's the old 'fox in charge of the henhouse' scam. In any case, all those Victorian laws are essentially Ultra Vires - in excess of their powers. Under our Constitution and our legal system, there cannot be such blatant collusion between a private company and local and state government, when it can be proven beyond a shadow of doubt that the system that this private company is under instructions to deliver a certain amount of infringements per year.
Let's say that all the motorists in Stonnington Council's jurisdiction complied with the parking restrictions and nobody was booked. So what would the council do then? It would be a criminal act to force council rangers to book motorists if they were not doing anything wrong, like overstaying their parking times or not standing on restricted zones. What then?
Are those parking rangers going to stitch people up? Yes, that is exactly what these bastards often do to comply with their booking quotas. They rely on the fact that nearly all motorists will not have any way of proving that they did not overstay the parking limit and most motorists will grit their teeth and pay the fine, rather than challenge the fines in court, which will cost them more in time and money than the cost of the fine.
Here's the truly incredible, diabolical and insidious nature of the arrangements that the private profit-seeking company Tenix has with authorities like the City of Stonnington in Melbourne. When you delve into the situation the nature of the extortion beggars belief. Tenix was assigned powers under the Infringements Act to collect 'guaranteed' amounts of revenue and to split the profits with its clients, while having the powers of state laws in their hands. What happens if you dispute a fine? The dispute is considered by - yes, you guessed it - Tenix. Why would they ever dismiss a fine when they are trying to reach booking targets that gain them income and protect their contracts.
It gets worse though. If you do not pay the fine, it goes to Civic Compliance who add 'costs'. Guess who they are? Yes - Civic Compliance is Tenix. Of course if you don't cough up, you then receive an inflated fine after it has gone though the Infringement Court system. This isn't a real court at all - its a computer that spits out a court notice with more charges. Who operates the Infringements Court? You guessed it again. It is private company Tenix once again! It is very Kafka-eque, but very true.
If you don't pay this attempt at extortion, the Sheriff will get involved. You'll receive a warrant issued by the Sheriff's office. One would think that by now there would be someone at arm's length from this private profit-making entity. Guess who the Sheriff's office is run by? Once again it is Tenix. Yes, it's the same guys who will wheel clamp your car, cancel your driver's licence or registration - or maybe seize your possessions or arrest you if you don't succumb to their extortionate demands.
So the company that has contracts to issue fines with the powers of the law 'assigned' to them is the same one that reviews appeals, enforces fines, issues court notices and then enacts warrants. There is no impartiality in the process and no chance of a fair hearing, as it's all driven by profit for the benefit of a private company run by billionaires such as Paul Salteri, who was reported to have sold his mansion in Sydney's swanky suburb of Castlecrag for over $13 million in November 2015. This man has become a billionaire from the misery of motorists.
This isn't a conspiracy theory, but a real conspiracy of collusion between Tenix, a private company that has been given extraordinary legal powers to run Victoria's traffic camera scam and the parking scams of councils such as Stonnington City.
The federal National Measurement Act 1960 is in force throughout Australia. One of its important requirements is that each measuring device used in commerce must be properly certified to be accurate. Measuring instruments such as weighing scales in stores, fuel pumps and literally anything that measures anything for trade and commerce must be certified as being accurate.
Now it can be proven that both Melbourne and Stonnington Councils are engaged in commerce with their parking scams, because the mayors of those councils have publicly admitted that they are chasing the revenue from parking fines. Therefore, it could quite rightly be shown that the measuring devices used in gathering that revenue are required to comply with the National Measurement Act. Parking meters, boom gate timing devices and even the watches on the wrists of rangers that are used to calculate if a car has overstayed the parking limits - every one needs to be certified under that Act.
Those councils certainly cannot claim that their parking penalty system is merely there to give motorists a fair go at parking, certainly not when Melbourne Council mayor Robert Doyle stated publicly that because of a shortfall in revenue, the council had rejigged the parking restrictions so as to penalise more motorists for revenue. The same goes for Stonnington Council mayor Claude Ullin, who admitted that he berated Tenix to increase the amount of infringements it issued. Why? For revenue, that's why.
Thus the admissions from those two mayors can be used in a court of law to prove that those councils are engaged in commerce by raising revenue from parking infringements and thus every single item of measuring equipment used in that exercise must be duly certified under the National Measurement Act. The interesting thing is that none of those devices are certified at all. That alone should be grounds for dismissal of any parking fine at a meter, in a parking station controlled by boom gates and tickets or booked by a ranger using his watch.
There are many private car parking stations in major cities and depending on their location, they can charge reasonable fees or they can be predatory beyond belief. One particular company, Wilson Parking operates more than 300 private parking stations all over Australia and New Zealand. The rates that Wilson Parking charges vary from the reasonable to the ridiculously rapacious.
For instance the fees at the Sydney Opera House car park are truly disgraceful. This car park is operated by Wilson Parking and in 2021, the published parking rates are:
Wilson Parking certainly know how to gouge people. Some years ago, I was given tickets to Cirque Du Soleil that was staged at the Moore Park Entertainment Precinct in Sydney. Wilson Parking operate the car park in the precinct and the normal casual rate for 3 to 4 hours is $10. But if there is an event at the precinct, such as Cirque Du Soleil, Wilson Parking slugs people a flat rate of $25. What's the justification for this? I wrote to Wilson Parking for an explanation and I received a reply that completely avoided giving me a reason for this rip-off.
As usual, I advise that you should always determine the exact charges for using private car parks and avoid being ripped off, such as parking at the Sydney Opera House or the Sydney Entertainment Precinct when an event is being staged. There are always alternatives, such as public transport from home or the very simple expedient of driving to the vicinity of the event you wish to attend, parking in an unrestricted parking spot like in a side street and catching a bus right to the venue.
The best form of protest is the boycott, where the rip-off merchants just don't get your money. If you come across any services that are obviously engaging in gouging, such as some private car parks, then just find ways to avoid them and still be able to do what you want. For instance, when I have occasion to go to the Sydney Entertainment Precinct, I merely drive to Kensington, park in a side street right near a bus stop and catch a bus to and from the precinct, costing me a total of $2.50 return with my Seniors Card concession.
The only loser will be Wilson Parking that won't be ripping me off for $25. The same goes for events at the Opera House, where I can catch a bus from an adjoining suburb and use the money I save to buy a nice meal. I just wish that everybody would do this and force these greedy private parking companies to either reduce their fees to something reasonable or go out of business.
One of the most iniquitous rip-offs in Australia is the cost of parking at major airports and there is no reason for such massive charges except blatant profiteering. In 2021, the published daily parking rates at both domestic and international terminals was a whopping $52. But for valet parking, the daily rate was $70.
It is interesting to do the math on these parking rates. The average carpark space is 40 square feet and it costs $52 for 24 hours at Sydney Airport. That means that at this rate, it costs a whopping $364 for a week. An average 2-bedroom apartment is 700 square feet, 17.5 times larger than that car space. So multiply $364 by 17.5 and you find that for that car space at Sydney Airport, you are paying the equivalent of a whopping $6,370 per week if you were renting that 2 bedroom apartment at the same rate. But all you get is a piece of concrete where you can park. You do not get a toilet, running water or any other amenities for that equivalent of $6,370 per week rental.
There are many ways to completely avoid paying these rip-off parking fees in these days of technology and mobile phones. If you are picking up a passenger from the airport, just park in a street close to the airport and arrange for that passenger to call you on your mobile phone when he is about to retrieve his bag from the luggage carousel. Then you just drive into the airport precinct and pick up the passenger from the waiting area - completely free.
For instance, at Sydney Airport domestic terminal, you can drive into the General Aviation area and park on the side of the road, or in the McDonalds or KFC free carparks and wait for that phone call. In around one minute, you can drive from there to the arrivals pickup point. At Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport, you can drive into the freight and business area before the airport and wait until the person you are meeting is ready to be picked up and then you can be at the pickup point within two minutes. Other airports would have similar places where you could wait for arriving passengers without risking getting booked or paying extortionate parking fees.
Most people now have smartphones, so there are many applications that will assist motorists in timing their arrivals at airports to pick up passengers. For instance, there is a smartphone application called Airport that provides real-time arrival and departure data plus much more and it is completely free. So you can check to see if the flight that you are meeting is on time, running late or even cancelled.
That way, you can always be certain as to what you should do and where you should be, in order to meet the flight and pick up your passenger without paying one single cent for parking or even worse, risking paying a horrendous fine.
If you are travelling by air, you can park your car for free in a suburban street near the airport that is on a bus route going to the airport terminal and merely go by bus. You can park for as long as you like in that suburban street and get to the airport for nothing more than the cost of a bus ticket. If for instance you are flying interstate for a few days, on-street parking should be secure, especially for cars with modern immobilisers. You are just as likely to have your car damaged in the airport carpark as you are by parking it on a suburban street and in any case, airport carpark operators take no responsibility for the safety of your car.
In Sydney, the Sydney Buses 400 route stops at both the International and Domestic terminals, so you can park your car in a quiet suburban back street near a convenient bus stop along that route. It should be as safe as parking anywhere and you can catch the bus right to the airport, take your flight and come back in a couple of days and catch the bus back to the stop where your car is parked. This is a hell of a lot cheaper than parking your car at the airport or at any of the private parking company carparks. I have done this a few times and it works well.
Parking at Sydney Olympic Park can be a very expensive exercise that is completely avoidable. Bus route 525 goes from Newington right to the centre of Sydney Olympic Park, stopping in a few places, but mainly at the Olympic Park train station.
If you need to go to an event at that precinct, just drive to the suburb of Newington, which is close to Sydney Olympic Park anyway. Park your car in any of the side streets around the Newington Marketplace shopping centre where there is completely unrestricted parking. The 525 bus stop is next to the fish and chip shop and it is a 10 minute ride straight to the Olympic Park train station.
Getting back to your car is just as easy. Catch the 525 bus from the stop opposite the Olympic Park train station and get off at the bus stop opposite the Homaru Japanese restaurant. This is a sensational way to completely beat the outrageous parking fees at Olympic Park and the bus from Newington takes about as long to get to Olympic Park as the shuttle buses from the various parking areas at Olympic Park take to get to the railway station or the stadiums.
Apart from the train, there are a number of bus routes servicing Sydney Olympic Park. There may be other bus routes that go to the Olympic Park. The trick is to see if any of those routes go from your area and investigate all-day parking spots near their bus stops, park your car at one of them and then take the bus.
Another parking rip-off is the blatant Sydney City Council gouging of motorists for parking on city streets. The parking fee in Sydney CBD in 2021 is $7.20 per hour. That is exorbitant, but motorists don't realise exactly what a monstrous rip-off this is, especially when motorists pay registration fees and motor vehicle taxes that imply that they have the right to use the roads, including parking on them.
The average street parking space is 40 square feet. Motorists rent this space for $7.20 per hour from Sydney City Council. That equates to $173 per day, which is $1,211 per week. An average 2 bedroom apartment is 700 square feet, 17.5 times larger than that car space. So multiply $1,176 by 17.5 and you find that for that street car space in Sydney CBD, you are paying the equivalent of $21,193 per week if you were renting that 2 bedroom apartment at the same rate.
On top of that, when you rent an apartment, you are not risking getting booked for overstaying and forking out for infringements. Of course there is a wonderful way of avoiding this gouging and risking getting booked. Just avoid parking in Sydney CBD or indeed anywhere that requires you to pay parking fees. There is literally nothing that you need to do in Sydney CBD that you can't do in places that offer free parking.
This disgraceful cash grab needs to be stopped. Motorists already pay more than enough in taxes, road levies, car registration fees and licence fees for governments to be able to build and maintain decent roads and freeways, without being slugged further by councils and airports.
The various fees and taxes imply that motorists not only have the right to drive on roads, but to also park on them. Councils should not have the power to charge fees to motorists to park on roads that those motorists have paid for and to book them if they do not pay those iniquitous parking fees.
Motorists have the ultimate power to avoid being cash cows for governments and councils in respect to parking fees and fines. That is the power of the boycott. Here are some ways to completely avoid forking out for expensive council parking and being hit with monstrous fines for overstaying at parking meters or council carparks.
Most people do not realise the real expense of driving from the suburbs into a Central Business District (CBD) such as Sydney or Melbourne and parking there to do some shopping. They are usually horrified when they are shown exactly what it costs to make that trip into town to pick something up, especially if they are foolish enough to fork out for road tolls.
Most ordinary people don't consider using couriers as an alternative to personal pickup, but in many cases, they are cheaper, more efficient and save people a lot of time. For example, in 2021, parking on a meter in Sydney CBD was $7.20 per hour and even more in council-owned carparks. The fines for overstaying are horrendous, however there is a very easy way to eliminate all the risk and expense.
Here is a typical scenario for a person living in the Sydney suburb of Blacktown, who needs to pick up an item from a business in Sydney CBD. With adjustment for different tolls and routes, this applies to most capital cities.
People don't think about this when they jump into their cars and head off into the city to do some shopping or to pick up items. It's all to do with social engineering, where e-toll tags make people complacent to the tolls that are being ripped off them, when in fact if they had to fork out $20 in cash every time they drove into Sydney CBD and back, they would soon realise the real cost to them and start avoiding those toll roads. However, even driving to Sydney CBD from Castle Hill and back and avoiding toll roads is still expensive, as you can see:
In 2021, the return train fare from Blacktown to Sydney Town Hall paid by Opal Card was $13. People who hold the Seniors Card or a Pensioner Concession card pay no more than $2.50 all day. So why would anybody want to drive and park in the Sydney CBD and be out of pocket by $31 even if they avoided every toll road and risk getting a parking ticket, when they can drive to a train station, park for free all deay, pay a nominal train fare and not have the hassle and the expense of driving into the city?
But let's say that a person in Blacktown needs to pick up an item from Sydney CBD and realises that it would cost him $60 and half a day wasted to go into the city to get that item and also risk being hit with a monstrous parking fine if he is so much as a couple of minutes late in returning to his car. Why risk all of that when there is an excellent alternative that saves all that grief? That alternative is called a courier.
Most courier services charge around $20 or even less to pick up an item in Sydney CBD and deliver it anywhere in the Sydney metropolitan area. This is less than one-third of the cost of the return drive using toll roads from Blacktown to Sydney CBD and risking that parking fine. Even better, the item is delivered right to the client's door, thus saving him effort and not wasting half a day in the city.
So next time you need to pick something up from your capital city CBD, don't bother driving in and out of there and waste your time and money. Just ring up a courier service and get the item delivered to your door, because it's cheaper to do that. In fact, most businesses and stores will even arrange delivery if you buy their goods. The best part is that by using a courier in this fashion, you will deny the council those rapacious parking fees, completely eliminate the risk of being booked and save money as well.
People need to fight back in every way to stop their local councils from attacking motorists in this way. Here are a few suggestions.