Motorists in Western Australia are set to get an early Christmas present, courtesy of a rare moment of consensus between the state government and opposition Liberal party.
Within the next few weeks, wheel clamping of vehicles for ‘offences’ such as breaking parking rules on private property will be banned. The towing of vehicles for similar breaches will still be allowed, but only as a last resort.
The new legislation comes after much controversy and many complaints about the actions of private companies that engage in wheel clamping in places such as shopping centres.
Premier says it’s ‘un-Australian’
They have been criticised for intimidating tactics, being over-zealous and acting as vigilantes. Various suburbs of Perth have been particularly hard-hit by the clampers.
In a radio interview last year, when the controversy was at its height, WA Premier Mark McGowan said the problem was out of hand and legislation would be needed.
“I think it’s un-Australian; it’s the kind of thing that goes on in other countries around the world that shouldn’t happen here,” he said.
‘Predatory and intimidating’
“We’re looking at legislative options currently to stop this, but to come up with other solutions, because you can’t have people parking unlawfully, obviously.”
When the government introduced the legislation to State Parliament in June this year, it said the practice was “predatory and intimidating” and a “disgraceful scam”.
In a show of unity across party lines, WA’s main opposition party backed the legislation.
Clamped while getting coffee
Liberal leader Liza Harvey gave her “full support” after her vehicle was clamped in her electorate of Scarborough.
“I parked in any empty car park, raced in to get a coffee, came back and I was wheel clamped,” an aggrieved Harvey said.
The relevant legislation passed through the Lower House of the WA Parliament yesterday and is now on its way to becoming law.
Easy way to make money
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the changes would abolish the “easy way for people to make money out of vulnerable people”.
“Someone could be sitting there in their car watching someone park, maybe head off to grab a coffee, and then clamp the wheel,” she observed.
Land owners and small businesses are still protected with parking infringements to remain in place as normal. Vehicles can also be towed as a last resort.