$1.5 million is owed just in freedom camping fines

Ah yes.  The NZ disease strikes again – lack of enforcement.

Currently many overseas drivers leave the country without paying fines.

Local councils say that over $1.5 million is owed just in freedom camping fines and the Ministry of Justice estimates that the total amount of fines owed by people who are now overseas could total up to $30m, including New Zealanders who have left the country.

For councils the fact that overseas tourists often ignore fines means that enforcement is becoming increasingly difficult.

In Queenstown, the council is issuing up to 50 freedom camping fines every night but the lack of an effective fine collection system means the problem continues to get worse. The council’s response has been to start clamping vehicles.

That’s one way around it.  

The RVA has sent a letter to the government saying that they would cooperate with a new system which could debit fines straight from the drivers’ credit card details.

Local Government Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga said that he was ready to consult with the association on its suggestion and also to involve other government ministries in finding better ways to enforce and collect fines involving overseas drivers.

The Ministry of Justice denies that the current system is archaic and said that there had been a move away from paper-based systems.

But a ministry spokesperson told RNZ that infringement fines could not be referred to them until 57 days after being issued and then there was another 28 days before enforcement action could start.

Over 70 agencies in New Zealand have the power to issue fines, something the RVA said proved the need for a better, tougher and faster enforcement and fine collection system for visiting tourists.

We clearly need to tweak the law to ensure we don’t get taken advantage of tourists that come here to act outside the law and then fly back home before our systems are even ready to declare it all overdue.

My idea would be to place a flag against these people’s travel documentation so when they get to the airport to fly out, they can either pay up right there and then, or they don’t get past customs.  I can assure you that after one or two highly publicised cases of people missing their flights and then having to try and find money to pay for their fines and new tickets, the problem will disappear overnight.



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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.