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Newsline: Diplomats in Australia rack up unpaid parking and speeding fines

Foreign diplomats have left a trail of almost 300 unpaid parking and speeding fines in a year, leaving authorities unable to recoup more than $75,000. The highest individual fine incurred and left unpaid since November last year was $1714 by the High Commission of Nigeria for running a red light. The most unusual fine was the Embassy of Mexico being fined $693 for driving an uninsured motor vehicle, and perhaps the most worrying was a fine issued to the Saudi Arabian Embassy for $387 for a child under seven not wearing a seatbelt. While the fines were incurred across 42 embassies and high commissions for offences in the ACT, diplomats from the Embassy of Saudi Arabia racked up the most unpaid parking and speeding fines of all the diplomatic corps in Australia in the past year. In figures obtained by Fairfax Media, Saudi officials had unpaid fines totalling almost $25,000 for the 12 months to March 2015. The Saudi Embassy racked up 120 fines – one almost every three days – with the highest $989 for speeding through a red light camera. It is the second year consecutive the Saudis have had the most unpaid fines. In 12 months to March 2014 Saudi diplomats and privileged persons accumulated 125 unpaid fines. The second highest number of unpaid parking and speeding fines was the Embassy of the Russian Federation which had 24 fines outstanding as of March this year. This was half the number of the previous year when it had 49 unpaid fines. The embassies of Jordan and Libya had 23 and 11 unpaid fines respectively while Kuwait and Papua New Guinea had nine each. Figures obtained under freedom of information from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Canberra revealed that the United States Embassy had seven unpaid fines, a couple for speeding 15 kilometres above the limit with the diplomatic car captured by point-to-point speed cameras. The most common offence for all the diplomatic corps was speeding caught by red light cameras with 72 fines handed out. It is believed the unpaid fines may never be paid because representatives of foreign countries are able to avoid fines through diplomatic immunity under the 1961 Vienna Convention. In NSW the Office of State Revenue reported five speeding fines and four parking fines remained outstanding for the past year from diplomats. A department spokeswoman said there was no diplomatic immunity from parking or speeding fines issued in NSW. Government figures show that there were 3562 diplomats in Australia in the 2013-2014 financial year.



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