Many people in the Riverina are doing it tough right now. We have suffered through drought, parts of our region have been ravaged by fire and now we are dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus crisis is not yet over. You only have to look south of the border to see the threat it poses remains very real.
In Wagga, there have been no new coronavirus cases for months. However, we have all been urged to be on our best behaviour and not to become complacent. We want to be striding ahead as a community and seeing the restrictions here in NSW continue to ease, rather than taking a huge step back.
Almost daily, the NSW government is announcing measures to stimulate the economy or provide a boost to everyday people.
Like the fairer fines system, which the government said would help the state's most vulnerable. From 1 July, an "unprecedented initiative" will see the cost of fines reduced for people facing financial hardship.
The initiative will also allow everyone who cops a fine to pay it off via instalments and provide more time for a fine to be reviewed.
Customers in acute financial hardship, who receive a government benefit at the time of their fine and apply before the fine is overdue, could get a 50 per cent reduction in their fine amount. Reductions are not available to those issued certain types of fines, like those imposed by a court.
While people on welfare need to be supported, the fairness of this new initiative has already been called into question.
Adelong's Ian Horsley might speak for many when he says the best and fairest way to reduce a fine is not to commit the offence.
The government has said the "deterrent factor" remains and that the reforms hold people to account without placing undue burdens on disadvantaged community members.
Using fines to punish and deter is all well and good, but often it is those people in our community who can least afford to pay a fine who get fined. Sometimes all that fines achieve is to pile more financial pressure onto our most vulnerable. The government should be congratulated for showing some commonsense and compassion.
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