Queensland institutes major parking rule change to close ‘loophole’ exploited by private parking operators

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Private parking operators in Queensland will be denied access to vehicle registration information after “exploited” drivers lodged complaints with the office of Transport and Main Roads.

Transport Minister Mark Bailey said “predatory companies” had exploited a loophole to issue fines to drivers overstaying their time.

Existing regulations have allowed private parking operators to access registration details, including names and addresses, when it is considered to be the first step of litigation against drivers seen to be parking for too long.

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“What we’ve seen is some predatory companies issuing what looked like fines, and are actually not fines, to people for overstaying in car parks,” Bailey told reporters on Tuesday.

“And the way it’s been done has been, to be quite frank, it’s been a real rip-off and it’s been something that’s trying to exploit people rather than managing car parks.”

From Monday, companies will no longer be able to access information under a legislative provision designed for car crashes or similar incidents, where it is an offence not to provide details.

Some companies had instead used the provision to access information just to issue fines, with no intention of going to court to pursue litigation, Bailey said.

“It’s been a case of not operating in good faith and using a loophole,” he said.

“What we’ll be doing is preventing that from occurring next Monday and will be seeking to reform the regulations so that you require a court order to get access to that information.”

Macca’s furore on parking pain

The Queensland government’s move comes after a third-party parking management group hired by McDonald’s came under fire when it fined Brisbane customers for overstaying parking limits they weren’t aware existed at one outlet in January 20.

Queensland mother Leisa Maia was at Indooroopilly McDonalds’s earlier this month for her son’s eighth birthday party, which lasted less than three hours, videos, photos and receipts confirm.

A few weeks later she and guests of the kids’ party received $135 fines in the mail from Smart Compliance Management.

“We didn’t see any parking signs or any notification,” Maia said.

Leisa Maia (left) threw a birthday party for her her son, Oliver Maia (right), at McDonalds. Then she and her guests received a $135 fine in the mail. Credit: 7NEWS

Both Maia and her cousin, who was also fined, went through the appeals process, but said it was “not really a process”.

She received a “dry response” that said, in Maia’s words, “well tough, you overstayed the parking limit”.

“Pay up or we’re sending your details to debt collectors.”

They were informed that was the end of the appeal process.

Leisa Maia said she felt responsible for her family who were also fined, as she fought back against the illegal breach notice. Credit: 7NEWS

In a statement, Smart Compliance Management told 7NEWS that “clients are located on private land, so Smart Compliance Management are legally able to issue parking breach notices”.

Bailey had earlier described the opportunistic use of the parking loophole “disgraceful and disgusting”.

McDonald’s previously told 7NEWS that “like many businesses, some McDonald’s restaurants may choose to engage a third party operator to manage their car park”.

After 7NEWS got in touch about the Maia family’s experience, McDonald’s agreed to drop the parking notice — despite the fact it was not legally enforceable.

– With AAP

With Sally Gyte and Ned Balme, 7NEWS

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