University of Newcastle cashes in on parking fines

CAUGHT OUT: Jayden Payne, who lives on campus at the University of Newcastle's Evatt House, returned from holidays to find four parking tickets that he can't afford to pay on the windscreen of his car. He failed to realise his student parking permit expired days before. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
CAUGHT OUT: Jayden Payne, who lives on campus at the University of Newcastle's Evatt House, returned from holidays to find four parking tickets that he can't afford to pay on the windscreen of his car. He failed to realise his student parking permit expired days before. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

JAYDEN Payne admits he’s done the wrong thing when it comes to parking his car, but he maintains that the University of Newcastle is the bigger offender.

The 20-year-old, who lives in student accommodation on the university’s Callaghan campus, returned to Newcastle after a holiday at his parent’s Port Macquarie home to find four parking tickets on his windscreen.

Mr Payne didn’t realise his student parking permit expired on June 30.  

It’s the fifth parking ticket he’s received this year. Earlier in 2017 his driver’s licence was suspended by the Roads and Maritime Authority after he failed to pay a parking fine issued by the university.

The fine and reminders were sent to his parents’ address in Port Macquarie. By the time he received the fine notifications, they came with a letter telling him his licence had been suspended two weeks ago.

He had to pay the fine and late fees before being allowed back on the road.

“That happened at the start of the year and then when I came back from holidays the other day I found four parking tickets on the windscreen of my car, that’s four times $108 which I just don’t have,” he said.

“I looked around and another car had about eight tickets on its windscreen. It’s highway robbery.”

The 20-year-old said he forgot that his six-month student parking permit expired while he was away.

He argued four fines was "exceedingly excessive", especially for a student.

“I called them up and told them I didn’t have the money right now to pay all four fines and asked to go on a payment plan,” he said.

“They told me it was bad luck and the unpaid fines would go to State Debt Recovery where there would be an additional $64 applied to each fine and only then could I apply to go on a payment plan.”

Mr Payne said he found it “hard to believe” the university was so keen on handing out infringements when it was “impossible” to find a park some days.

Fellow student Bek Weber, who has had four parking tickets in 18 months, said the lack of car spaces at the university was a “constant issue”.

“It’s pretty rough when they are handing out so many fines, but not giving us adequate places to park,” she said.

A university spokeswoman said it had a “responsibility” to manage parking spaces in accordance with legislation. 

There are 5500 car spaces at Callaghan, which is the university’s largest campus. The university declined to reveal how many students and staff use the campus, but according to its 2016 annual report it had more than 40,000 staff and students across all campuses. 

The spokeswoman said additional spaces were available during peak times and the university had built two new bike hubs and partnered with a start-up company to create the ride sharing app Liftango. 

“We also actively encourage staff and students to consider a range of travel options, including more sustainable modes of transport, such as walking, cycling and public transport,” she said.