Myki fines – know your rights

More than $44 million in public transport fines in Victoria could be challenged through a new website.

Last financial year, more than 250,000 fines were handed out to Victorian commuters, worth more than $44 million. A new website, launched today, seeks to empower people to challenge unfair public transport fines.

It is the latest in a series of efforts by civil liberties campaigners to make the Myki system fairer and easier to navigate. By answering a series of questions, the website will help you decide whether you have a valid defence, and whether or not you should accept an on-the-spot fine or fight it.

Defences include whether you were suffering exceptional circumstances, such as if you were unwell, or if you took all steps to obtain a valid Myki card, but were unable to, for example, because of a faulty machine.

The group worked with Julian Burnside QC’s Myki Flying Squad to fight unfair Myki fines, and decided to use that knowledge to create the website.

Emma Buckley Lennox from Young Liberty for Law Reform, the organisation that created the website, said: “We have seen too many people being pressured into paying fines because they don’t understand their rights.

“The system is confusing and the government does not give people the information they need to be able to make proper and informed decisions.

“We hope to fix this through this website.”

Sam Flynn, also from Young Liberty, said: “If the government does not make this system fairer, then we as a society have to make it fairer ourselves.”

The website is targeted at people like Sophie, a 26-year-old graduate lawyer from Melbourne. Earlier this year, Sophie caught the train from Caulfield to Flinders Street Station as she does every morning, on her way to work in the city.

“When the officers waved me over I was sure I had touched on. I do every morning. I even remember having my wallet in my hand before I reached the station entrance.

“If I had known that I had a defence, or that I could have requested the CCTV footage from the station to prove that I touched on, I would not have taken the on-the-spot fine.

“I was on the cusp of saying that I would fight it anyway, but I thought it would be too hard and I didn’t know where to begin.

“The whole system seems like a form of bullying. They don’t tell you what your rights are, and then they intimidate you with the consequences of not choosing an on-the-spot fine.”