Opinion Number. 444

Subject

FINES AND PENALTIES WHETHER MINISTER HAS POWER TO REMIT FINE IMPOSED UNDER ORDINANCE : EXERCISE OF PREROGATIVE BY GOVERNOR-GENERAL

Key Legislation

RATES ORDINANCE 191I(A.C.T.)

Date
Client
The Secretary, Department of Home Affairs

The Secretary to the Department of Home Affairs has asked for advice as to whether the Minister has any power to remit a fine imposed under the authority of the Rates Ordinance 1911 in force in the Territory for the Seat of Government.

The Ordinance provides that if any rates are not paid within the time specified in the notice of the rate, there shall be added to the amount of the rates payable a penalty of ten per centum on the amount of the rates.

There is no express provision in the Ordinance for the remission of any penalty, but the prerogative powers of the Crown extend to the remission of any penalty.

I am of opinion therefore that the Minister has no power to remit the penalty, but that the Governor-General, in exercising the prerogative power, could do so.

It is a question for the Minister to consider whether the ground disclosed is sufficient to justify him in recommending the remission asked for, but I desire to sug-gest that if Mr A. had gone into occupation of the land before his transfer was regis-tered and had knowingly allowed the rates to fall into arrear while he was so in occu-pation, his ground for asking for a remission of the penalty is a very weak one, because under the Ordinance he being an occupier was legally liable to pay the rates and the fact that his transfer was not registered would make no difference to his liability.

[Vol. 10, p. 10]