Monash councillor Geoff Lake at a Care Park car park in Docklands. Cr Lake was issued a legal notice by Crown Collections, owned by Boroondara councillor Jim Parke. Photo: Joe Armao
A Boroondara councillor has emerged as the owner of both a debt collection agency and a law firm issuing controversial legal claims against motorists who overstay in private car parks.

Many motorists mistake the legal notices for fines, leading Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett to last week label them "fake fines" and introduce laws to stop their use.
Cr Parke said it was 'ridiculous' to suggest his debt collection company was called Crown Collections to appear to be acting on behalf of the Crown. 
The role of ​Cr Jim Parke, as sole owner of Crown Collections and Parke Lawyers, who act for Care Park, was revealed after proceedings were issued for overstaying against Monash councillor Geoff Lake.

Jim Parke: Councillor, lawyer, debt collector. Jim Parke: Councillor, lawyer, debt collector. Photo: Steven Lightfoot
Cr Lake had parked the Monash mayoral vehicle at a Care Park lot in Docklands.

He offered to pay the overstay fee but refused to pay the $88 "liquidated damages" claim issued against him.

Cr Lake, a lawyer, discovered via a series of legal exchanges with Crown Collections that both it and the law firm acting against him were owned by Cr Parke, a Boroondara councillor since 2012.

A former Liberal Party member, Cr Parke was appointed to the Adult Parole Board by the Napthine government in September.

Cr Parke confirmed his law firm issued collection notices for Care Park, which has previously been found by the state administrative tribunal to have issued unenforcable proceedings.

After discovering Cr Lake's identity, Cr Parke's lawyer offered to have the claim - which had been escalated to $165 - waived for a "fellow councillor" and to avoid "further embarrassment".

Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett last week introduced laws protecting motorists from private car park operators issuing what she called "fake fines" - unenforceable payment notices. The laws will stop private parking operators from getting a motorist's registration details to issue them with the notices.

Cr Lake said Cr Parke had built his legal practice on making people pay "sham parking fines".

"It's pleasing the state government is now legislating to stop people like Jim Parke from ripping off unsuspecting people and amassing a personal fortune out of it," said Cr Lake, a Labor councillor.

But Cr Parke said he was perfectly entitled to act as a councillor while also running a debt collection company and a legal practice chasing motorists with legal notices for overstaying in private car parks.

"My primary calling is that of a legal practitioner, not a councillor," said Cr Parke. "This has got nothing to do with my role at Boroondara; I'm there to serve the public. I had the business of Crown Collections and Parke Lawyers long before I nominated for council."

He said he had no idea what Ms Garrett was referring to when she labelled the damages claims "fake fines".
"The clients I act for, they are not in the business of issuing fake fines. They issue claims for liquidated damages for breach of contract."

He dismissed Cr Lake as someone who "was so appalling even Kevin Rudd wouldn't tolerate him as part of his team". Then prime minister Kevin Rudd disendorsed Cr Lake in 2013 as Labor candidate for a safe seat after revelations of an altercation during a 2002 council meeting.

Cr Parke said it was "ridiculous" to suggest his debt collection company was called Crown Collections to appear to be acting on behalf of the Crown. "[Are] Crown Casino or Crown Forklifts perpetrating a fraud?" he said.

And he said his firm did not issue fines. "My law firm acts for clients. When I act for a murderer or rapist that doesn't make me a murderer or a rapist," Cr Parke said.

A spokeswoman for Care Park said it was one of the reputable operators in the business.

A Boroondara spokeswoman said Cr Parke had disclosed his interest in Crown Collections, which did no debt collection for the council. 17 Jun 2015

This is just another example of how Australia is run by corporate criminals.

The person should be removed from office and also charged, but no doubt the police will do nothing.

Australia is run by sophisticated white collar criminals to the detriment of the general populous.

Fact of law: Debt collection on Victoria is unlawful, where at a later post we may show how to get rid of any debt collectors demands.