WTF? Australian police raise fines for swearing to $500 in New South Wales

Bad language is becoming an expensive habit

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The Independent Online

Even the former Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, was known to drop the f word every now and again but now Australians face fines of up to $500 for swearing.

Police in New South Wales (NSW) have almost tripled on-the-spot fines for offensive language to the equivalent of £270 from around £80 ($150).

It is part of a crackdown on alcohol and drug-fuelled disorder, particularly in Sydney and other cities.

But there is no official list of words that can be punished and critics have said the law allows officers to be too subjective.

Scott Webber, from the NSW Police Association, told the Sydney Morning Herald fines were usually issued after an initial warning, particularly when f*** and c*** were used aggressively.

Using bad language in public spaces near a school, a main street or in a park where children may hear is also an aggravating factor.

Mr Webber said: “The increase in fines [will] act as a deterrent but on top of that we need to make sure people are aware of the increase ... that it is a lot better than taking them to court.“

The states of Victoria and Queensland also punish foul-mouthed citizens with fines but South Australia is the only other place where officers can issue penalties on the spot.

The introduction of fines for swearing in Melbourne in 2011 prompted a “F*** Walk” protest, where hundreds criticised police for clamping down on freedom of speech.

Critics have claimed the law unfairly targets young people, those from Aboriginal communities and ethnic minorities.

Other measures being introduced include minimum prison sentences of eight years for alcohol or drug-fuelled assaults, no alcohol zones and reduced serving hours.

Fines have also been increased for offensive behaviour and intoxicated and disorderly behaviour.

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