Australian businesses prepare for the new privacy regime
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Entities that emit large quantities of greenhouse gases or with a liability under the carbon pricing mechanism must report an interim emissions number and surrender eligible emissions units by 17 June 2013.
New regulations establishing governance standards for entities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) have now been finalised (subject to parliamentary procedural requirements). Entities that are registered charities are automatically registered at the ACNC. Registered charities and not-for-profits (NFP) should now treat the regulations as having full effect.
The PRC Supreme Court recently issued its Interpretation on several issues related to labour dispute cases effective from 1 February 2013. The Interpretation clarified several matters relating to labour law such as service year calculations for employees transferred from one entity to another one, non-compete restrictions, notification requirements of trade unions for early termination of employment, employment of foreign nationals and the validity of change of labour contracts orally.
On 13 March 2013, the High Court of Australia unanimously dismissed an application by TCL Air Conditioner (Zhongshan) Co Ltd restraining the judges of the Federal Court from enforcing an arbitral award.
This week the Australian Government released its hotly anticipated package of reforms in response to the Convergence Review and the Independent Inquiry into the Media and Media Regulation ('the Finklestein Inquiry'). The proposed changes will 'bolt on' additional regulation to the already complex media landscape and principally affect traditional news organisations.
On Tuesday 12 February 2013, the Minister for Immigration, Brendan O'Connor, announced changes to Australia's visitor visas as part of the federal government's commitment to reducing the number of visa subclasses in Australia's migration program. The changes, which take effect from 23 March 2013, will reduce the number of visitor visa subclasses from nine to five, in addition to other minor changes.
A number of FSA regulated investment managers and advisers who provide financial services to wholesale clients in Australia rely upon on the exemption from the requirement to hold an Australian financial services licence (AFSL) pursuant to Class Order 03/1099 (Class Order).
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is proposing to amend the Class Order so that the change in the UK regulator from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will not of itself trigger any notification requirement to ASIC by these providers (having regard to the notification requirement contained in the Class Order).
After a long and contentious process, the Hong Kong Competition Ordinance was passed in 2012 and the foundations for its introduction are now being laid. Businesses should take proactive steps to prepare themselves for a significant change in Hong Kong's commercial landscape once the Competition Ordinance comes into full force.
As part of the federal government's 'Stronger Super' package of reforms, from 1 July 2013 new portfolio holdings disclosure obligations will be imposed on trustees of registrable superannuation entities and other parties investing or holding superannuation monies.
On 4 March 2013, the Queensland Government released Draft Implementation Guidelines for the Queensland Building and Construction Industry Code of Practice. The Draft Guidelines set requirements which building and construction industry participants must adhere to if they are to engage in Queensland Government funded work. They are set to start operating from 1 July 2013. We explain why this announcement is important and what employers should do. Consultation closes on 21 March 2013.
The Final Report of the Independent Inquiry into Construction Industry Insolvency in NSW, chaired by Mr Bruce Collins QC, has been made public. The NSW Government set up the inquiry to assess the cause and extent of insolvency in the building and construction industry and recommend measures to better protect subcontractors from the effects of insolvency.
The Australian Taxation Office has indicated it will withdraw its controversial draft taxation ruling for stapled groups - TR 2012/D5 'Income tax: debt and equity interests: when is a public unit trust in a stapled group a connected entity of a company for the purposes of paragraph 974-80(1)(b) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997'.
The Retirement Villages Act 2012 (ACT) commenced on 4 March 2013, and while there was some question as to whether they would be ready on time, the Retirement Villages Regulations 2013 became available on the same day and are now also in effect.
The Act replaces the Fair Trading (Retirement Village Industry) Code of Practice 1999 and sets out the rights and obligations of residents and operators of retirement villages. It will apply to all prospective and current retirement village residents and operators in the ACT, but does not apply to 'aged care facilities' which are regulated by the Commonwealth Aged Care Act 1997.
The ACT government has made good on its promise to amend the Land Titles Act 1925 (ACT) to enable the Registrar General to register on title property dealings containing references to trusts (most commonly limitation of liability clauses).
Small Business Victoria has announced a proposal to introduce new regulations for retail leases in Victoria to take effect from 23 April 2013. The new regulations are intended to replace the current Retail Leases Regulations 2003 (VIC) resulting in changes to disclosure statement forms.
The Minister for Immigration, Brendan O'Connor announced proposed changes to the Subclass 457 temporary work visa program. The changes will require employers to demonstrate that genuine skills shortages exist before they employ 457 visa holders and will 'tighten' the scheme to ensure local workers are getting a 'fair go'.
On 15 February 2013 the New Zealand Financial Markets Authority (NZFMA) announced its review of the Financial Advisers (Australian Licensees) Exemption Notice 2011 (Exemption Notice), due to expire on 30 June 2013 (the Announcement).
On 22 January 2013, the PRC Supreme Court issued a judicial interpretation for criminal cases related to the non-payment of employees' remuneration. The Interpretation has clarified certain aspects of the criminal sanctions that may apply for the non-payment of employees' remuneration, increasing the risk of prosecution for non-compliance.
On 1 March 2012 the Government announced that it was considering amendments to counter perceived weaknesses with Part IVA of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (Cth) (ITAA36), Australia's general anti-avoidance rules (GAAR). This followed high profile losses by the Australian Taxation Office in the Courts. On 16 November 2012, the detail of the proposed reform to the GAAR was announced. On Wednesday the Government introduced into parliament the Tax Laws Amendment (Countering Tax Avoidance and Multinational Profit Shifting) Bill 2013 (Part IVA Bill) which follows the Exposure Draft released on 16 November last year.
The Federal Court has just handed down the latest decision (MBI Properties Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation  FCA 56) about the GST treatment of the supply of an apartment within the Sebel Manly Beach development, which has been the subject of a series of cases more widely known as South Steyne. This decision illustrates the need to carefully consider the risks before applying the popular GST going concern concession.