Saudi Arabian diplomats in Canberra have clocked up more than $140,000 in traffic fines, hooning around the capital in their official cars but authorities are powerless to make the Saudis pay.
The Saudis are Canberra's worst-behaved diplomats with more than 550 fines outstanding for speeding, running red lights and parking where they please around the city, ACT government data reveals.
All told, foreign embassies in Canberra owe more than half-a-million dollars in fines for speeding, running red lights and parking infringements which they have no intention of paying despite the pleas of the Commonwealth government.
The Saudi embassy did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.
The new revelations of diplomats behaving badly come as the Azerbaijan embassy was forced to deny using its diplomatic privileges to bring large quantities of alcohol and cigarettes into the country to trade on the black market.
Diplomats and embassies are covered by "diplomatic immunity" meaning they cannot be taken to civil or criminal courts in their host countries and their staff cannot be detained or arrested.
Documents released by the Department of Foreign Affairs have revealed instances of diplomats caught driving on Canberra streets well over the blood alcohol limit and police being left with no choice but to let them go on their way.
But the department has told foreign governments that it does not consider traffic offences to be covered by diplomatic immunity and has called on embassies to pay their fines.
The department says its own staff are expected to pay traffic infringements they incur while working overseas and calls on foreign embassies in Canberra to just pay their fines.
But when diplomats simply ignore the fines, the local authorities cannot do anything about it other than to continue to send reminder notices and "courtesy letters" to the embassies.
DFAT, which has a supervisory role over Canberra's diplomatic community, can express its displeasure but cannot force anyone to pay their fines.
The department's chief of protocol, Chris Cannan, has the job of reminding foreign diplomats to respect the law of the land.
"Not happy," was how he described his mood after reading about one Saudi's exploits in July 2015.
"I will be calling in the Saudi ambassador – most likely early next week – to express strong concern about this offence as well as another serious offence committed by a Saudi diplomat a week or so ago," he told a police official.
DFAT can informally ask a nation to quietly send one of its diplomats home if their behaviour becomes a serious problem, but the department did not answer questions about how many of these requests had been made in the past five years.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the Indonesian embassy owed close to $90,000 in overdue fines. This amount was wrongly attributed due to a spreadsheet error. The embassy owed $1731.