Parking advocacy continues during the pandemic
By Stuart Norman, CEO Parking Australia
Parking Australia has continued to represent the industry to the federal and state governments, during this pandemic, on a range of issues. While lockdown restrictions differ in each state, there are only a minority of locations where car park usage has recovered to sustainable levels, especially in the larger capital cities.
There is little doubt that the pandemic has, and will, change the way Australians travel and work. Many predict that people will work from home more often, thus reducing the number of vehicles, and in turn reducing the number of motorists parking.
Parking Australia is working diligently to address many of the current issues while considering the longer-term ramifications of the pandemic. Below is a short summary of the representations the association has made to government during the past month.
Victorian Government Enforcement Direction
On Thursday 13 August, Local Government Victoria issued a bulletin entitled, ‘Enforcement of Local Laws – Parking’. The bulletin stated, “… councils are only permitted to enforce essential parking restrictions where these relate to issues of safety and access.” Effectively this means that on-street parking is free, as there will be no enforcement of time or fees.
Parking Australia understands this decision effects councils, off-street parking providers and suppliers. Parking Australia has communicated this in writing to the Premier’s Office and that it may be a breach of the Government’s own Competitive Neutrality Policy. It may also be anti-competitive. PA would like to hear from members about what this decision means to them, as we continue to advocate for enforcement of on-street parking.
FBT on Parking
In April PA wrote to the Federal Treasurer seeking a suspension of Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) on parking during the pandemic. This would take away the disincentive for businesses to purchase parking for their staff.
FBT almost doubles the cost of parking for businesses. If a business pays $15 for a parking space for their employee, they will pay an addition $14.67 to the Federal Government. This makes the purchase of parking for staff unviable. Employers want the ability to purchase parking so their staff can get to work in a Covid Safe manner, but FBT is too much of a disincentive for them to do this.
PA have met with Treasury, made representation to the Prime Minister via his advisors and spoken about this issue in the media. We have also sought to gain support from some of the country’s bigger business representative bodies, who are starting to see the merits of this proposal, as the country turns its attention to the required economic recovery.
Queensland Disability Parking Permit Scheme
Changes to the Queensland Disability Parking Permit Scheme come into effect on 31 August. The major changes to the scheme are the inclusion of people who are legally blind being able to obtain a permit and the doubling of fines for parking in a disability parking space on public and private land.
PA have been working with the Queensland Government on this matter and have been supportive of the amended criteria to obtain a permit and the increase in fines. The main area of discussion has been on enforcement. The Queensland Government has not wanted to make too many legislative changes and that is understandable given the pandemic, yet PA believes there is a solution.
In Queensland, like in many other states, third party providers collect evidence for state authorities to issues fines. This occurs with mobile and fixed speed cameras. Transurban and speed camera contractors collect evidence of speeding and the state issues the fine.
The Government’s position is that enforcement should only be conducted by authorised officers. In this case by local government. This would mean that every car park operator would need to have an agreement with each council to undertake this. While this situation may suit some, it is not the most efficient way to enforce. PA is of the view that car park operators should have the ability to choose whether they have an agreement with local governments, or act as a third party and forward the infringement to the state.
PA will be attending the Queensland Disability Parking Summit at the Minister’s request and are seeking the opportunity to present to all relevant stakeholders.