Jan Barham, Greens MP and Disability spokesperson, is calling on the NSW Government to release its report on the review of the Mobility Parking Scheme which was due out late last year.
"The disability sector is keen to see action from Government to ensure Mobility Parking Permits only go to those individuals with a disability who genuinely need it. Many people have been concerned about the levels of abuse in the scheme and a question in Parliament has requested an update," Ms Barham said.
In 2012, an independent advisory committee was established to review the Mobility Parking Scheme in New South Wales. For a number of years the scheme, which allows people with mobility restrictions to park for extended periods in time restricted parking spaces, has suffered from abuse.
"The review of the Mobility Parking Scheme will define the tightening of the eligibility criteria and advance the harmonisation of state and territory disability parking schemes into a single Australian Disability Parking Scheme (ADPS). Improving the scheme would allow for international recognition of the scheme and allow Australians who hold a permit to use it when travelling overseas."
Ms Barham noted that there had been over 60,000 revoked permits recorded by the RTA/RMS and that in 2010-11, there were 728 infringements issued. Some past reports have estimated that one in three permits displayed in ticket/meter and time-limited areas for long periods of time are being used unlawfully.
"We know some people have been flouting the rules but there has also been inadequate enforcement. Disability parking fines in NSW are the highest in the country but most offences are committed by persons other than the permit holder, whether by other family members or from stolen permits," Ms Barham said.
"The Government needs to release this report and explain how it will reform disability parking to support those who genuinely need it and stamp out the problems and abuse."
Question without Notice asked in the Legislative Council on 28.02.13:
The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports. A review of the mobility parking scheme took place in 2012 by an independent advisory committee, with the report due last year. When will the report be released and will it restrict the eligibility criteria to ensure permits are only available to those who genuinely need them?
The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: That is a good question. The report will be released soon. In answer to the final part of the question, will it be available only to people who genuinely need it, I certainly hope so. That is the whole idea of the review.
The role of the Mobility Parking Scheme (MPS), since it was first introduced back in 1972 under a different name, is to promote inclusion and participation for people with significant mobility restrictions by introducing parking extensions in time restricted and metered parking spaces throughout New South Wales. Mobility Parking Permits offer the most generous parking concessions in the country, but poor enforcement and lax eligibility has comprised its effectiveness.
An overhaul of the Mobility Parking Scheme has been long overdue. There is wide expectation within the disability community that the release of the report will see improved eligibility requirements with a possible independent analysis of each application; a broadening of medical practitioners able to assess applicants to include occupational therapists and physiotherapists; and, a tightening of the time permit holders are able to park in restricted time zones in line with other states and territories and in compliance with the ADPS.