21st April 2006
Objective analysis.  That's what's done here.



This is the ongoing story of my battle for justice against a parking infringement notice issued by Waverley Council.  Following is an edited version of my defense.


The instructions at the entrance to the Westfield,
Bondi Junction parking station read "park only in the marked spaces".  There is no other relevant requirement, although there is a note that Waverley Council Officers will be enforcing under section 650 of the Local Government Act 1993.

I parked in a marked space in Westfield.

The original parking infringement notice indicated that I was not parked in a “marked parking space” 

I wrote a letter (word file) to Council, explaining that I was parked in a marked space, and asked that the charge be dismissed, failing that, requested
to have the matter heard before a magistrate.  I mentioned that there was an ambiguous sign near the marked space.

By return mail I was charged under 650(4)(a) of the Local Government Act 1993 for not parking in a marked space, and the original charge was expanded to include a breach of 650(1), (parking contrary to a “no parking” notice.)

I appeared in Waverley Court, pleaded "NOT GUILTY" and the matter was referred to the Downing Center.

I subpoenaed documents from Westfield. (the relevant agreements between Westfield & Council, who painted and installed lines & notices, and when).

On the date for the return of the subpoenas, Waverley withdrew, citing that their witness (the parking compliance officer) was not available for "family reasons".  I found that to be a bit strange, because the date for the hearing had not yet been set.  Perhaps their witness had a terminally ill family member who needed care 24/365?  This is also the second time that a council has withdrawn after I have gone to trouble & expense of preparing a defense.

During my defense I had to travel from Barvennon to Sydney, and consequently have run up costs exceeding $1,500.  The magistrate told me that money was not recoverable.  I have had past experiences with unfounded parking infringement notices, and was planning to ask for exemplary damages of $10,000, which I planned to give to the Neville Fire Brigade and St Vinnies and the Op Shop in Blayney.

It is of interest that most parking matters that go to a magistrate's court are dismissed.  This game of threats is a financial burden on the taxpayers, but not on Local Government, who use the threat of court action to exhort money from the innocent.  
I feel that exemplary damages might change the equation & encourage Local Government to take more notice of the explanations that people write in about their parking infringements. 

I am hoping to take this matter further.


In my mind, the painted lines and the posted sign on level P6 at Westfield, Bondi Junction, gave contradictory messages.  The sign has a "no parking" symbol and the words "no parking", but no indication as to how the sign is to apply (no arrows or writing etc).  It most nearly approximates an “Area” no parking sign, meaning perhaps do not park anywhere on level P6?  The car space sized marked lines are a fairly clear indication that cars are permitted to park in the marked space.

I believe that a person should be entitled to choose without penalty which of two contradictory rules to obey.  The marked lines were the least restrictive and least confusing of two contradictory rules.

I did some research.  The “No Parking” signs in the parking station do not comply with the requirements for “No Parking” signs as defined in section 168 & 316 and schedules [2] [3] of the Australian Road Rules.

Section 650(1) of the LGA reads "The driver of a vehicle parked in a free parking area otherwise than as permitted by a notice or sign erected by the council is guilty of an offense."  Section 650(4) of the LGA reads " If spaces in which a vehicle may be parked in a free parking area are marked by the council (for example, by means of painted lines or by studs, pads or plates), a person must not cause a vehicle to be parked in a free parking area:"

The Parking station is not a “Free Parking Area” as defined in the dictionary and in section 650(6) of the Local Government Act 1993 No. 30.  Westfield parking station charges it's customers according to the length of stay.  It is not free.

The "No Parking" notices were not erected by council.  The notices have a manufacturer's logo, something that no Waverley council sign has.

The Lines were painted long before council took over enforcement.

The Parking station is not a “Free Parking Area” as defined in the dictionary and in section 650(6) of the Local Government Act 1993 No. 30.

Section 650(7) of LGA provides for the Director-General to establish guidelines.  Those guidelines [1] [2] appear to make it clear that council can only make an agreement to police a free parking area.  They also make it clear that council is responsible for signage.

In my (admittedly) limited understanding of the law, that means that no part of section 650 of the LGA 1993 can apply.  If that is the case, not only should the case be dismissed, but Waverley should not have been in the parking station.   All of those people who have paid parking fines are, at the very least, entitled to have those fines refunded.


In general, I am quite careful not to park illegally.  This is evidenced by the fact that this is the first infringement notice I have had for some years.

Despite my care not to infringe parking restrictions, I am sometimes given an infringement notice.

This is not the first time that I have made a plea of not guilty and been found not guilty when I took a NSW Council to court with a “not guilty” plea.  On one of the more recent occasions I received a “reminder” letter from council.  To my best recollection,  I was not parked anywhere near the alleged location, and (as I pointed out in a letter of objection) the car they had booked was not even my car. 

Nevertheless, that explanation was dismissed by council, I had to go to court and prove that it was not my car.  I was found not guilty.

There are many other cases in the last few years where I wrote in (what I thought to be) a perfectly reasonable explanation to the council, which dismissed my explanation, and then recited the same explanation to a magistrate, who in every recent case judged that my explanation was reasonable.

It is noticeable that NSW Councils have, in the few years since being granted part of the revenue obtained from parking infringement notices, begun to act in an increasingly avaricious manner.  It is my experience that, before that revenue stream was granted to councils, a reasonable explanation with evidence was, in most instances, accepted.

There are many reports in the press detailing the huge revenue growth being collected by councils from parking infringements.  In last Sunday’s April 16th “Sunday Telegraph” there was a report (p15) that detailed this growth in revenue.  Waverley Council (which was the second largest parking penalties collector in NSW after Sydney) had doubled it’s revenue from $3.99 million in 2004 to $7.9 million in 2005.  This was during a period when parking fines statewide rose 60% in the two years to 2003-2005.  Those figures indicate that Waverley was raising parking revenue at a rate that is four times the average for NSW.

In the matter before the court, I sent council a letter, with a photograph taken at the time showing my car standing in a “marked space”.  (That was the only charge on the original ticket.)   Council did read my letter because the charge was expanded to include “standing contrary to a notice.”  Perhaps they thought that I might be found not be guilty of not standing in a marked space, but they might get me for standing contrary to that bodgy notice.

It summary, it appears that many NSW councils, and Waverley Council in particular, have adopted the shotgun approach.  They ignore any explanation written in by the infringee, knowing that nearly all of those who "write in" an explanation will not take the matter to court.  This is because most people have real jobs, and for the amount concerned it is cheaper to pay a fine than to risk the bosses displeasure & lose pay seeking justice.

The calculus of Waverley Council’s approach are clear.  Using the shotgun approach, nearly all of those who object still pay, and the cost of prosecuting the few who do not pay is covered many times over.

They are like a greedy Pooh Bear in the honeypot.

I would like to see somebody change the calculus of council’s approach by granting victims the right to costs and exemplary damages.  If it needs an act of parliament to remove the regulation that prevents wrongfully charged individuals to collect costs & damages from Council, then perhaps that is what must be done.   If a small penalty does not persuade NSW Local Government Authorities to revert to considering the merits of each explanatory letter, then perhaps a higher penalty on a following occasion might serve.

I want a way to teach Pooh Bear to watch out for the bees.