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Friday, January 17, 2003
An open letter to the legislators of New South Wales

In the past, I have run foul of the British legal system but not in the way you might imagine. Several times, I have been on the receiving end of mistakes by court officials. When I have pointed these out courteously, even in open court, the attitude has been 'Well, this is the way it is. We do not make mistakes. What we say goes.' Things that in normal life would justify an apology and restitution are treated as 'tough', with an astonishing degree of arrogance. I am afraid that the same 'sod the poor punter' mindset is prevalent in Australia, too.

As you should know, I was given a speeding ticket in New South Wales on 19 December. It ought to have been paid within three weeks. The ticket says that there are four different ways to pay the fine:
1. By phone, quoting a credit card number.
2. By internet and credit card.
3. By post.
4. In person.
In the UK, we are earnestly entreated not to give credit card numbers over the phone because of the lack of security. Would you indemnify me against fraudulent use of my credit card if I were to give it to the relevant office over the phone? No, I thought not. So this is not an option.

I have no means of paying by post - I do not have an Australian cheque-book.

It is impractical for me to pay in person at the address given - it's a very long way away.

The best option for me is to pay by internet. So, I call up the payment screen and I am greeted by the legend
Infringement not registered
Having done this many times, over several weeks, I am still greeted with the same message. I am reluctant to do anything further. I have several screen prints to show that the message has been there for the three weeks I have been trying to make the payment.

Now, I do not know why the message appears but it is clearly under your control. I put it to you in all seriousness that, if you do not register the details during the period when payment is required, you are not doing all you can to make the payment systems available. Whatever the reason, it demonstrates contempt for your citizens.

I have a choice in the matter. I can leave the country with the fine unpaid - you are hardly likely to seek my extradition. I also find it difficult to believe that you would be able to link the matter to any visa application I may make in future. Even if you were able to do that, I have a way to avoid the link. (No I’m not going to tell you how.)

So, I suggest that you ought to put your house in order. If you do this within one month, I will pay the fine. If you do not, I will not. I also expect a letter of apology, with an explanation, describing the management controls you are installing to prevent a future recurrence of this sort of nonsense.

You are a servant of the public, not a dictator. Please do not forget it.


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