National

New Canberra parking inspectors in parliamentary zone work weekends too

A new brigade of black-uniformed parking inspectors from the National Capital Authority will be using their powers to fine drivers at Floriade this weekend following safety concerns, it has been revealed. 

Thousands of public servants trying to avoid fines during the introduction of new paid parking rules in the parliamentary zone from Wednesday have been warned not to let their guard down this Saturday and Sunday.

The NCA's parking force was primarily created to patrol the new $12-a-day paid parking areas which exist  from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday but little-known powers will be exercised against law breakers outside these times. 

NCA chief executive Malcolm Snow said his organisation would not stand by while the safety of children and others were endangered by drivers parking on reserves.

"What we saw at Floriade last weekend raised serious public safety concerns and I personally observed people driving across the public footpath," Mr Snow said.

"It's reasonable to expect if you're walking on a nature park you're not going to have someone driving toward you.

"It seems to be a Canberra trait where people will park wherever they think they can try it on."

Those parking on nature strips last weekend were ignoring multiple warnings for Floriade visitors to park and walk – or catch a bus – to the event. 

The NCA's inspectors were given the little-known power to patrol reserves to stop soil compaction caused by cars – which can kill tree roots –  and can use the powers anytime. 

Elite senior executives will be some of the best placed to avoid the new unit of NCA inspectors created specially for the new paid parking system which was supposed to be introduced earlier this year but was delayed until October 1.

Commonwealth departments are footing the yearly bill of more than $7 million for their executives to park as thousands of lower ranking public servants pay from their own pockets, according to figures from the bureaucracy's 2013 remuneration report. 

Much of this bill was made up of almost 1200 elite senior executives costing almost $4 million in paid parking a year.

Another 1700 executive level staff were costing taxpayers $3.2 million a year. 

It was expected the black uniforms would help the public differentiate between NCA inspectors in the parliamentary triangle from the blue polo-shirted ACT Government rangers elsewhere in Canberra. 

Along with their black vests, pants, shoes and grey-striped tops, the team of NCA inspectors in the parliamentary triangle will have the NCA logo on their uniforms. They are technically contracted to NCA because they are employed by outsourced company Tenix Solutions.

It is believed the manager leading the inspectors has just returned from training in Melbourne. 

Austender shows Tenix Solutions was being paid $961,000 for a contract running from August 2014 to June 2016. 

The parliamentary zone included Parkes, Barton, Russell and Acton. Public holidays as well as weekends were excluded from the need to pay for parking in the zone. 

The new system aimed to prioritise spaces for visitors to national institutions.

Five-day tickets will be available from ticket machines for$57.50 or $2.50-an-hour parking can be bought. These are valid for five consecutive days, excluding weekends and public holidays.

All money collected by the NCA will be directed to the federal government's consolidated revenue fund.

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