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Earlier this month, the Treasury of the Australian Government released a consultation paper on 'Providing Certainty for Contractual Loss Absorption Provisions in Regulatory Capital', seeking feedback on the need for legislative amendments to facilitate the effective operation of new prudential requirements on the loss absorbency of regulatory capital.
The US Government has moved to act on carbon emissions by requiring US states to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30% by 2030. If implemented, the measure may lead to higher US coal exports and greater competition for Australian coal exporters, but may reduce incentives for US gas to be exported as LNG.
The Commonwealth Treasury has released a consultation paper proposing to extend to small businesses the same protection from unfair contract terms as have been given to consumers. The rationale for such an extension is that 'small businesses ... are commonly presented with standard form contracts and, like consumers, can lack the time and legal or technical expertise to critically analyse these contracts, and the power to negotiate.' (p1, Consultation Paper).
The Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014 (Qld) was introduced to Queensland Parliament on 5 June 2014. The Bill represents the first phase of the Queensland Government's Modernising Queensland's Resources Acts Program for the mineral resources, petroleum & gas, geothermal and carbon capture and storage industries in Queensland.
The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules Amendment Instrument 2014 (No.3) (Cth) came into force on 1 June 2014, requiring reporting entities to make changes to their AML/CTF programs and customer due diligence procedures. The new rules follow extensive consultation by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.
The long-running dispute between genetically modified canola farmer, Michael Baxter, and his neighbour, organic farmer Steve Marsh, was watched closely by interested parties globally, and highlighted the growing conflict of interests and rights between organic and GM farmers. However, despite the importance of the judgment, the case has failed to provide any real certainty for the agribusiness industry.
ASIC has released a report reviewing the way listed entities, analysts, investors and advisers handle confidential, market sensitive information. In this sensitive area, ASIC offers important guidance for listed entities and their boards of directors, and also for analysts, investors and advisers.
On 17 May 2014, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China issued the Administrative Measures for the Verification and Approval and Filing of Foreign Investment Projects, which will become effective from 17 June 2014.
On 12 May 2014, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) issued the Rules on the Foreign Exchange Administration for Cross-border Guarantee (Hui Fa  No. 29) (the Rules), which will become effective as of 1 June 2014.
Last week saw the removal of United States retail giant Target's chairman and CEO as the fall out continued from last year's hack of 40 million customer payment card records and 70 million other records. While Australian companies and government have not been immune from attacks by hackers, it raises some important questions.
The Home Building Amendment Bill 2014 (NSW) had its second reading in the NSW parliament on 6 May 2014. The Bill proposes to change the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW) by ensuring increased levels of consumer protection and facilitating builders in completing their work.
The High Court has refused Agripower Australia Ltd's request for special leave to appeal the Queensland Court of Appeal's decision in J & D Rigging Pty Ltd v Agripower Australia Ltd  QCA 406.
The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has released a consultation paper on a proposed rule change to the good faith rebidding provisions in the National Electricity Rules (NER). If implemented, the proposed changes will have very serious implications for participants in the National Electricity Market (NEM). Minter Ellison's Energy & Resources team has prepared a detailed white paper on the proposed rebidding rule change which you can download.
On 14 March 2014 the OECD issued a Discussion Draft Public Discussion Draft BEPS Action 6: Preventing the Granting of Treaty Benefits in inappropriate circumstances (Discussion Draft). Responses were due by 9 April 2014.
The NSW Government Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services has released the 2014 Crown Lands Legislation White Paper. This follows the release of the 2013 Crown Lands Management Review Paper reviewing the control and management of Crown land and the 2014 NSW Trade & Investment - Crown Lands Division's response to that 2013 Review Paper.
On 1 May 2014, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia handed down its appeal decision in SPAR Licensing Pty Ltd v MIS QLD Pty Ltd. In doing so, it set aside a franchise agreement resulting from the franchisor's breach of the Franchising Code of Conduct. Franchisors will need to review their disclosure documents (including the accompanying financial information) and ensure that they are fully aware of the technical requirements under the Code for the preparation and provision of a disclosure document to franchisees.
On 28 April 2014, Australia entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement with the United States of America to improve international tax compliance and implement the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Exposure draft legislation has also been released by the Australian Treasury which will give domestic effect to our obligations under the IGA.
A key decision has provided confirmation of the purpose and effect of a number of key provisions relating to perfection, priority and vesting rules under the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth).
On 24 March 2014 the OECD issued a Discussion Draft on BEPS Action 1: Address the Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy as part of the OECD's 15 point Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan. Responses were due by 14 April 2014. In this Alert we consider the main issues and options for taxation reform raised in the Discussion Draft.
Treasury has recently released draft legislation for public comment, with the aim of significantly reducing compliance costs for business and improving business productivity generally. There is a five week consultation period, with submissions closing on 16 May 2014.