The State Debt Recovery Bill 2017 was introduced in the NSW Legislative Assembly on 21 November 2017 to implement a whole-of-government approach to debt collection across Government agencies.

The NSW Commissioner of State Revenue is to get the power to collect debts on behalf of other State agencies. The idea appears to be:

  • To collect the $130m apparently debts overdue across all NSW Government agencies (which does not include local council rates).
  • To collect other government debts, due by persons who already owe the OSR money (supposedly avoiding duplication).
  • Once an agency refers a debt, the Chief Commissioner will be authorised to recover it using the same incentives and sanctions that are currently available for the collection of debts, taxes, fines, victims’ restitution orders and ambulance service fees. Those incentives and sanctions include payment plans, garnisheeing of wages, property seizure and placing a charge on land. And this sounds like the real reason for the measure (to give the NSW Government extra ‘cudgels’ with which to collect its other debts – not just ‘avoid duplication’).

The Bill will enable a public authority, including a local council, to enter into an agreement for the Chief Commissioner of State Revenue to recover that agency’s debts. As many customers who owe debts to other agencies are existing Revenue NSW clients for tax or fines debts, the Bill seeks to avoid duplication.  While tax debts are already recovered by the Chief Commissioner, they will be brought under the proposed new regime to allow tax debts to be recovered as part of consolidated State debt using the same powers for all civil debts.

DATE OF EFFECT: The Bill will commence on a day to be proclaimed.

[NSW Parliament website – Bills Digest; Bill (read below the Explanatory Statement); Explanatory Statement; FJM; LTN 225, 23/11/17; Tax Month November 2017]

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