How can we challenge negative reports on parking?
By Stuart Norman, CEO Parking Australia
The Parking Industry is, more often than not, portrayed in a negative light when receiving any sort of media coverage. It’s difficult to find fair and balanced articles. One such example was published in The Herald Sun on 14 July 2019 with the headline, ‘Inspectors Ring Up Riches’.
Before I go into detail on this article’s misdeeds, it is a timely reminder as to why we have John Pender the CEO of the Australian Press Council speaking at OUTLOOK in November.
The Australian Press Council is the body responsible for promoting good standards of media practice, community access to information of public interest, and freedom of expression through the media. The Council is responsible for responding to complaints about Australian newspapers, magazines and associated digital outlets.
John will speak about how to make a complaint about what is printed and provide examples of the types of complaints which are made, and which are successful. If you are a public or private operator or are concerned about how the parking industry is often portrayed, this is a session not to be missed.
In the before mentioned article the use of emotive language clearly shows the writer’s bias against local government parking operators. Phrases such as ‘happy hunting ground’ for parking inspectors and ‘streets of gold’ for local government are not used when trying to report factual information. It is used when taking one side over another. This use of language continued throughout the article with the terms ‘slugging’, ‘raked in’, ‘multi-million dollar hauls’, ‘reaped’ and ‘magnet for fines’.
The second concern I have with the article is the lack of a specified information source. They wrote, ‘The Herald-Sun can reveal’, the streets where local government are issuing the largest number of infringement notices. Given the specific nature of this information I believe that it is in the public interest for the journalists to state where they obtained the information.
Having had a student research team work on a project for Parking Australia focussing on local government parking revenue, I find it even more surprising as to how this information was obtained. I’m assuming it came from Fines Victoria which have had significant issues over the past 18 months and as such, the information is not reliable. They still owe Victorian Councils millions after having not processed payments or paying councils what they are owed.
Thirdly, the article makes the assumption that an increase in parking revenue, specifically in infringements, is as a direct result of the Victorian state government’s most recent capping of local government rate increases to 2.5%. Subsequently, to support this assumption they quoted a rate payer, who is hardly an authority on parking/traffic management or political/economic affairs.
This article is just an example of the regular coverage the parking industry receives. It’s as if the media know that the industry will remain silent, for fear of continued negative coverage. It is my view that in any industry where there are billions of transactions, it is easy to find the few who feel they’ve been hard done by. On the same day as the article I’ve referred to, the paper published the story of a parker who refuses to pay for parking and then complained when she received an infringement notice.
It is my view that we, as an industry, need to continue to comment with facts when asked to help debunk many of the parking myths that are perpetuated by the media. Facts like this one – the City of Melbourne only issue 39 per cent of parking fines for overstaying time restrictions.
Can I urge you to attend our session with John Pender, as I believe that the industry does have a way to hold media outlets to account for their coverage of our necessary industry.
The full article can be found at (but requires a subscription to read) https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/melbournes-worst-streets-for-parking-fines/news-story/4e984fb5cf50acbf6298e284311b137e
Parking Australia – Strategic Plan 2019-2021
The Parking Australia board have approved the three-year strategic plan. The strategic plan can be viewed here.
The plan builds on our purpose of being able to connect, represent and deliver to our members. This is to be achieved by focusing on four key areas: Advocacy, Profile, Events and Education.
If you’d like a to know more the strategic plan or would like to discuss it further, please feel free to contact me via email.