Don’t penalise non-drivers

driver license fees

In a number of situations in life it’s necessary to provide photo identification. The most common way for people to do this in NSW is with a Driver Licence.

What do people who don’t drive do? I’m one of them. Allow me to explain.

We have to provide a Photo Card which costs $57 for five years. The Service NSW website states:

“A NSW Photo Card may be used as photo identification if you don’t have a NSW Driver Licence. It has the same application process as the driver licence, and some of the same security features.

The Photo Card may be accepted as identification in most places a driver licence is recognised, however cannot be used as a form of identification for some online applications.”

Breaking this down, we see that a Driver Licence confers on the holder two benefits: one is the legal ability to drive, the other is the ability to be identified.

You would think that if you just want the identification part, that the cost should be lower. Not quite.

The cheapest form of licence available is the Learner Licence, which costs $26 for five years. There is an effective penalty of $31 for not being a driver.

One possible counter to this argument is that to get a Learner Licence, one also has to take a Driver Knowledge Test, which costs $49. But a non-driver does not require this component and therefore shouldn’t be counted in any fair comparison.

I wrote to the Premier about the matter two years ago and was referred to Victor Dominello, Minister for Customer Service. His office ignored the argument and made no changes to the fees.

It’s also worth noting that Driver Licences attract a 50% discount under the “Fair Go for Safe Drivers” scheme. This amounts to $97 over a five year license period.

Obviously not driving at all is at least as safe as ‘safe driving’, so if we are talking about a ‘fair go’, shouldn’t I get a $97 credit towards my Photo Card?

Being generous, I’ll accept a Photo Card for free and let the NSW government keep the $40 difference. This would help reduce discrimination against non-drivers and also be fairer for people struggling on low incomes who can’t afford $57.

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