Australian State Reaps $50 Million in Fines During the Spread of Delta

By Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
December 3, 2021 Updated: December 3, 2021

The government of New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, collected around $50 million (US$35 million) in fines due to breaches of COVID-19 health directives.

According to figures obtained from the NSW Treasury, the government has issued 56,617 infringements to the value of $53.24 million over the course of the pandemic since Mar. 1, 2020.

However, most of these fines were issued during the Delta variant outbreak from Jun. 25, 2021, to Nov. 18. 2021, with 53,456 infringements valued at $48.87 million.

In terms of age groups, 19 to 29-year-olds were the most likely to attract a fine with 21,538 infringements, followed by the 30 to 39 age group (12,279), 40 to 49 (8,900), 50 to 59 (4,740), and under 18s (3,095).

Currently 15,879 fines, valued at $15.75 million (US$13 million), remain outstanding.

“Recovery actions may be taken by Revenue NSW if an overdue fine is not resolved by the due date,” an NSW Treasury spokesperson said.

“As recovery actions for public health order breaches were not paused during the pandemic, some of the actions taken have included bank and/or wage garnishee orders, suspension of driver licence, and cancellation of vehicle registration.”

NSW authorities have, for the most part, tried to avoid deploying lockdowns or tough public health restrictions to deal with the pandemic—preferring to allow the economy to continue operating.

The emergence of the Delta variant and a spike in infections, however, forced a change in the government’s approach, with then-Premier Gladys Berejiklian, opting for tough restrictions that have proven popular in other states, including locking down the Greater Sydney region with measures such as restrictions on the amount of movement allowed per household.

The government however has since shifted its focus to increasing vaccination rates in the population and removing restrictions, ahead of other Australian jurisdictions.

Currently, NSW is on track to ease restrictions on Dec. 15 or when the state hits the 95 percent double-dose vaccination rate.

The government has upped fines recently to push individuals and businesses to comply with isolation, testing, and quarantine requirements after the emergence of a few cases of the new Omicron variant in Sydney.

These include $5,000 fines for individuals (up from $1,000), and $10,000 for businesses (up from $5,000).