Kelly Vincent – Vision Australia Interview on Introducing Demerit Points for Illegal Parking in Accessible Spaces

Richard Morgan: Time to welcome to 5RPH Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent. Hi Kelly.

Kelly Vincent: Hi Richard.

Richard Morgan: Kelly, you’ll be introducing a Private Member’s Bill seeking harsher penalties for people who park in accessible car parks without a permit later today, is this a big issue for people with disabilities?

Kelly Vincent: Look, it certainly is. I’m regularly contacted in my office by people who are quite rightly frustrated and angry when they see cars taking up accessible car parks when they don’t have a permit to do so, and Dignity for Disability certainly feels that the threat of losing demerit points and losing therefore, possibly, a person’s driver’s licence may make driver’s reconsider their actions, rather than parking illegally in spaces that other people really have no option but to use and are heavily reliant on. So the misuse of these car parks by people without a permit is rife, from stories that my office is hearing, and current penalties don’t seem to be doing enough to discourage this selfish, anti-social, and illegal behaviour, so the time is right to increase the penalty. I want to introduce a demerit point offence to really get the message across you’re doing something that is not just inconsiderate, you are breaking the law, and severely disrupting someone’s ability to access their community easily and safely.

Richard Morgan: Now, how will the new rules be policed?

Kelly Vincent: Well look, policing is certainly an issue that’s going to be a big part of this, introducing a new offence won’t create change on its own, so if my Bill is passed into law it will be up to police and parking inspectors to expiate offences and this is going to mean that in addition to a penalty of $341 there will also be one demerit point for each offence added to a person’s license. The fact of the matter is that we just don’t have enough accessible car park spots for the number of people with disabilities in our community, particularly as the population ages as it stands now, let alone those future needs, so we have a lot more work to do ensure that there are enough parks available and that this is policed effectively to ensure that the message does get across, so we’ll certainly be working with the councils and the police where appropriate to make sure that that does happen.

Richard Morgan: How has this initiative been received so far?

Kelly Vincent: Look Richard, it’s certainly early days, but I have to say that as soon as we came out with this proposal, and particularly since we’ve announced that we’ll be introducing the Bill today, the feedback from the community has been great in number and overwhelming positive. I’ll be speaking to my Parliamentary colleagues and seeking their support for this measure. Look, it’s pretty well a common-sense measure and a pretty simple measure that we’re talking about here so I’m hopeful that it will have the support of my Parliamentary colleagues to reflect community support for this Bill. I’ve certainly had some good feedback and some good suggestions and I really wanted to do something positive in this area because it is something that deeply affects the lives of a lot of people in terms of their ability to go about their daily business in their community. Sometimes people think that it has to be an “us and them” situation, but I’m wanting a fair community response where families who have young children as well as people with disabilities can use car parks easily and safely and we need to stop incidents such as rubbish skips being placed in accessible parks, that’s one issue I’ve come across recently, so clearly there is not enough driver awareness as well as the consideration that as I said this won’t be a one stop shop in terms of fixing the situation but I hope that in introducing a new offence it will I guess reinvigorate the community conversation around this as well as getting some greater policing of the offences as well.

Richard Morgan: Well, good luck with introducing that Bill later today.

Kelly Vincent: Thanks, Richard, appreciate that.

Richard Morgan: Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent.