Millions in COVID fines, penalties unpaid


More than 90 per cent of people hit with hefty covid fines have failed to pay them, with the State Government waiting on millions in unpaid debts.

The Courier-Mail can reveal that just 216 of the 2296 people fined for breaching Queensland's coronavirus health directives have paid up.

Queenslanders have been fined more than $3.5 million for COVID related breaches between March 19 and September 29, from a man who travelled during lockdown orders to go on a Tinder date to a bikie who lied on a border declaration form after recovering from the virus in Melbourne.

It comes after Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll revealed "quite a high percentage" of people were also failing to pay their hotel quarantine bills.

Of those fined for COVID-related matters, 166 related to border offences where people have been fined $4003 for entering Queensland against the rules.

A total of eight of those fines have been paid.

Fifteen fines relate to businesses operating outside of the Chief Health Officer's rules. Four of those fines have been paid.

And 138 were listed as "not yet paid, prosecuted and so on - beginning of process".

Nearly 1500 fines were logged as "no payment received by Transport and Main Roads, full fine amount sent to State Penalties Enforcement Registry for further action".

NSW/QLD border control point at Gold Coast Highway, Bilinga. Picture: Jerad Williams
NSW/QLD border control point at Gold Coast Highway, Bilinga. Picture: Jerad Williams

Another 92 fines were listed as having been "listed with Queensland Police Service to commence prosecutions against alleged offender".

Notorious bikie Shane Bowden, who was murdered last week in an execution-style killing, was charged with giving false and misleading documents under the Public Health Act after he failed to accurately fill in his border declaration pass when flying in from Melbourne.

Bowden had contracted coronavirus in hospital while being treated for a gunshot wound to his leg but was no longer contagious when he entered Brisbane.

A magistrate later fined him just $750 - much less than the usual $4003 - saying the border declaration form was "stupid" and "confusing".
Police are still investigating his death and say they believe it may be linked to him falling out with Mongols bikies who kicked him out of the gang.

In April, LNP MP Trevor Watts stepped down as shadow police minister after he was caught having "driveway drinks" in East Toowoomba at the height of Queensland's lockdown.

Two off-duty police officers were among those socialising in the street when a police patrol spotted the group.

Mr Watts was given a $1334 fine.

"I made a mistake. I have to own that mistake and take responsibility," he said at the time.
High-profile solicitor Bill Potts said laws were ineffective unless they were obeyed and the penalty was capable of being enforced.

"The simple truth is the COVID laws have relied upon the goodwill and co-operation of the bulk of the public," he said.

"But in essence the failure to be able to collect the fines in a timely and easy manner indicates the continued lack of co-operation by those who have in fact broken the law.

"The border restrictions and social distancing rules I think are broadly popular and broadly obeyed but if people are going to break those laws they are just as likely to refuse or delay payment and that is an expense that is now being borne by the whole community," he said.

"The reality is SPER is being seen as a toothless organisation that puts fines on the never-never payment scheme."


Originally published as Millions in COVID fines, penalties unpaid