QUEENSLAND has become the first state in Australia to cap towing fees from private car parks after the state government passed tough new legislation outlawing dodgy towing companies.
The legislation follows an independent investigation, led by former District Court Judge Michael Forde, into alleged shady practices, intimidating tactics and excessive fees.
Mr Forde delivered 22 recommendations to overhaul the towing industry, including changes to licence requirements, fees, signage, privacy, education and enforcement.
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Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the state government had accepted the recommendations “lock, stock and barrel”.
Mr Bailey said the new legislation will see the maximum penalty imposed under the Tow Truck Regulation increased from 20 penalty points ($2,523) to 80 penalty points ($10,092).
The maximum towing charges for a standard private property tow will also be capped at $250, with the on-site release of a vehicle set at $150 and vehicle storage at $25.
The legislation will prohibit the charging of call-out fees and administration fees, and require operators to notify the police as soon as practicable after removing a vehicle from a private property.
Drivers will also be required to take all reasonable steps to locate the owner of the vehicle before loading it onto a truck.
Strict new conduct requirements will also be imposed on licensees, drivers and assistance to prohibit intimidating, abusive or insulting behaviour.
Meanwhile, anyone applying for a towing licence or certificate will now have their entire criminal history screened beforehand, including any charges that are yet to be dealt with, or those that may have been withdrawn.
“With the passing of this legislation, the Palaszczuk Government is helping Queensland lead the way and implement harsher penalties to crack down on rogue operators,” Mr Bailey said.
“The proposed legislation will also make it clear that we can consider a person’s entire criminal history when assessing whether they should be granted a licence or certificate.”
Mr Bailey said in addition to the legislation changes, the Palaszczuk Government was taking steps to educate the community on how to protect themselves from dodgy operators.
“Information will be provided on the Transport and Main Roads website to assist Queenslanders understand the legislation changes,” he said.
“Signage guidelines and fact sheets for towing operators and drivers, motorists and property owners will also be published today.
“The transport inspectors in my department have also increased the focus on enforcement.
“I am confident these reforms will improve the accountability of the towing industry and provide better protection for Queensland motorists.
“I want to again thank Mr Forde for carrying out the extensive investigation and consultation which formed the basis of this legislation.”
The changes will commence in April to allow time for stakeholders to comply and will:
- Require that private property towing may only be performed in regulated areas by drivers and assistants who have the necessary certificates and are using licensed tow trucks
- Require tow truck licensees to have towing consent evidencing an arrangement with the occupier to remove vehicles from the property and to notify the Queensland Police Service as soon as practicable after removing a vehicle from private property
- Impose conduct requirements on tow truck licensees, drivers and assistants including prohibiting intimidating, abusive or insulting behaviour, and requiring reasonable steps be taken to locate the motorist before loading a vehicle onto the tow truck
- Provide that vehicles removed from private property may only be taken by the most direct route to the licence holder’s nearest holding yard
- Set maximum towing charges for a standard private property tow ($250), the on-site release of a vehicle ($150) and storing a vehicle ($25) and prohibiting the charging of call-out fees and charges for separate activities incidental to the towing service such as administration fees
- Safeguard motorists’ privacy by restricting the disclosure of information about the removal of a vehicle from private property and expressly protecting personal information about a vehicle’s owner, driver or other party connected to a regulated towing service
- Increase the maximum penalty that may be imposed under the Tow Truck Regulation from 20 penalty units ($2523) to 80 penalty units ($10,092), and
- Allow the entire criminal history of an applicant, including any charge for an offence that has not been dealt with by a court or withdrawn or otherwise discontinued, may be considered when determining whether to grant a licence or certificate and whether a person is an appropriate person to continue to hold a licence or certificate.
For more information on the investigation and legislation changes visit https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Business-and-industry/Accreditations/Tow-truck-licensing-scheme.aspx