Incremental fines

Why is someone on Newstart allowance and Gina Rinehart both fined $180 for breaking the speed limit by 10km? Why is someone on Newstart allowance and James Packer both fined $1000 for being drunk and disorderly? This is stupid.

I think fines should be pegged to income, perhaps based on the last tax return or perhaps deducted from future returns, but incrementally applied.

$180 to Gina Rinehart is literally loose change but for someone on a basic allowance it is not far off a full week’s income. This strikes me as overly punitive to those on a low income and non-punitive to the wealthy. Outrageously unfair.

Any thoughts?

Apologies if this issue has been previously raised.


On the lower end of the scale, there is more incentive not to break the law. On the higher end, a person will still lose their licence when they run out of points.

Are you suggesting that people on welfare pay reduced fines or fees due to their economic status? This is already done for the elderly for public transport and utility bills. The DHS has had similar schemes in the past for this kind of thing.

The problem is that you would be hard pressed to find someone willing to give people a break over vehicle related fines. The usual response is that there is always public transport.

If there was a better way to regulate driver behaviour and the states could be persuaded to give up their multi-million dollar cash cow then the system could be replaced. What with though? A new carrot? A new stick?

My thinking was to remove dollar amounts from fines, traffic and criminal related, and replace with a percentage of income.

So driving without a license attracts a fine of .5% of annual income. Drink driving, 1% of annual income, possession of small amount of cannabis, .3% (or whatever percentage). A minimum and maximum dollar amount could be established, I suppose. You could even include parking fines!

A bit hairbrained perhaps, just seems fairer to me and it may actually be supported by the public.

… well, unless drug driving, of course.

I did wonder if the uber-rich would actually drive. At all. I mean, why would you.

Oh sure, but i meant under the current laws. Pick any law you like where the breaking of it attracts a fine. I reckon a percentage of income is a more equitable penalty.

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Some people may complain about being unfairly targeted due to their income. Usually it comes back to applying the same fine to people regardless of income to be fair to everyone.

Is this based on gross income or after tax and other considerations? Bear in mind that some people might earn a lot but their tax bracket can be much lower.

I would say after tax income and possibly deducted from the tax return so that the paying of the actual fine goes straight to the tax office. Of course this might incentivise tax avoidance but given adequate incentive, and ethical disregard, already exist i doubt it would have much of an impact on that.

Would people think it unfair? I’m not sure. Even those committed to a life of chasing the dollar seem happy enough when someone richer than they are has to pay more for something - and there is always someone richer.

Sounds exactly like the setup that Finland already uses. Would probably make a good case study for how it could work, how people might react to the idea, etc.

The idea has some superficial appeal, but it’s not clear that it will be equitable in all cases.
The extent of the motivational effect of the scaling in fines probably relates more to disposable income than it does to actual income.

If you have a large disposable income, then you probably live a life of luxury, the commensurately large fine will limit those luxuries briefly, and you’ll be “miffed” briefly and have to drink substandard wines for the month.

If you have a large income because you are working 3 jobs to support the current family and the two ex wives and 5 children, then your suffering continues unabated, but two families of children miss out this year.