Projects like Crime stoppers and neighbourhood watch have been useful in the past to prevent and investigate criminal activities. Noticing the effectiveness of such schemes, governments have been anxious to expand the scope of them into dealing with thought crime and anti social activities. Roxon’s proposed anti discrimination laws are an example of this type of thinking.
Victoria, like Queensland has a neighbourhood snitch program under which busybodies, self righteous twats, and even those who want to get even with neighbours, are empowered to report litterers to the local commissar and give the EPA the authority to issue fines based on public reports. For showing such intense public spirit, they can have the satisfaction of seeing their enemies fined.
It appears Toni Withiel has annoyed someone:
Ms Withiel has proof she was two suburbs away from George St in Wantirna South where she was supposedly spotted littering on Boxing Day.
The Monash University honours student has a receipt from an electronics store in Brandon Park Shopping Centre in Wheelers Hill, time-stamped 14 minutes after the time stated on the $141 EPA fine she received. She also has bank accounts proving the transaction, and has signed a statutory declaration for both.
Ms Withiel said she and her friend, in the car with her at the time, were at the shopping centre all day at the Boxing Day sales. Ms Withiel said it was impossible for them to have driven to the busy shopping centre, found parking, bought a coffee, browsed through an electronic store and bought a video game - all in 14 minutes.
She is contesting the fine, which she says shows ordinary people have too much power in dobbing in motorists, with not enough proof required before a fine was issued. …
… EPA spokeswoman Tanya O'Shea said fined motorists needed to prove their innocence to the EPA - not the EPA to prove their guilt.
While littering is a problem, the idea that someone can be fined with no evidentiary requirement other than a complaint from a member of the public is an outrage. For an accused person to be required to prove innocence is the direct opposite of what is considered due process in civilized countries.
There are numerous occasions in everybody’s lives when they are alone or unrecognized somewhere without witnesses and not doing something that leaves proof of being there. Ms Withiel is fortunate to have some evidence of her whereabouts around the time her enemy reported her.
With the government doubling the fines imposed, this should really spice up those neighborhood disputes.