Vision-impaired people in Queensland will be eligible for disability parking permits from next year under law changes supported by the Palaszczuk Government.
Queensland will also have some of the toughest fines in the nation for drivers who illegally park in spaces reserved for people with disabilities, doubling the current $266 fine to $533 under the new rules.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the government would work to put the changes in place by mid-2020.
“Under the current laws in Queensland, your eligibility for a disability parking permit is based on your functional ability to walk,” Mr Bailey said.
“Queenslanders with vision-impairment and their carers have shared their stories with me about how challenging it can be to negotiate busy car parks.
“They felt the current laws, which were introduced in 1998, ignored their situation and I think that’s a fair assessment.”
Minister for Communities, Disability Services and Seniors Coralee O’Rourke said the expanded criteria for the parking permit scheme would define vision impairment consistently with the Federal Government's Social Security Guide.
“This is a common sense recommendation that has come from an independent assessment of the current system our government started in February,” Mrs O’Rourke said.
“It will ensure people with vision impairment and their carers are supported with safer and more convenient access in car parks across the state.
“The changes will bring Queensland into line with New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, which both include legal blindness as a criteria in their permit schemes.”
Mr Bailey said fines would also double for people illegally parking in spaces reserved for people with disabilities under the changes coming next year.
“Drivers who illegally occupy disability parking spaces should expect to be harshly penalised,” Mr Bailey said.
“Expanding the permit criteria to include people who are legally blind means about 18,000 more Queenslanders could require these spaces.
“We believe there are enough spaces to cater for that added demand, but we also need to hit the message home that taking up spaces reserved for people with a disability is unacceptable.
“It’s arrogant and selfish behaviour that the community does not support.
“If you do it, you will pay dearly for it.”
- There are about 191,000 disability parking permits currently issued in Queensland.
- An independent review found expanding the permit scheme to include persons who are legally blind would mean about 18,000 more Queenslanders could be eligible to apply for a permit.
- Proposed changes will define vision impairment as consistent with the term 'permanent blindness' in Commonwealth Government's Social Security Guide under the Social Security Act 1991.
- The Queensland Police Service issued 7,638 fines between the 1 January 2014 and 30 April 2019, for parking illegally in a disability parking bay.
- This volume of offending is likely to be underrepresented as councils traditionally issue the majority of parking fines.
- The current penalty for stopping in a disability parking bay without a permit is $266.
- Under the proposed changes, this penalty will increase to $533.
Minister for Transport and Main Roads
The Honourable Mark Bailey
Minister for Communities and Minister for Disability Services and Seniors
The Honourable Coralee O'Rourke