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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.
A report commissioned by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has found that a significant number of workers in Australia, particularly young and migrant workers - are performing unpaid work, often in breach of employment and migration laws.
The government has announced that it will delay the (already once deferred) start date for implementation of the proposed measure 'Better Targeting for Not-For-Profit Tax Concessions' to 1 July 2014. Read the Assistant Treasurer's media release on the new start date.
On 25 January 2013, Federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relation, Bill Shorten, issued the Building Code 2013 (Federal Code) under the Fair Work (Building Industry) Act 2012 (Cth).
The decision of the South Australian Supreme Court in WST Pty Ltd -v- GRE Pty Ltd was delivered on 21 December 2012. Clients are advised to review and consider the impact of this decision on their business operations.
The Finance Minister has released new CGGs, which are to take effect from 1 June 2013. Agencies need to prepare for implementation of the new CGGs.
On 20 January 2013 Australia's National Rail Safety Regulator commenced operation in New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. In those states and territories where the Rail Safety National Law has been adopted, a number of immediate changes have come into effect.
The recently released Feeding the Future report – a joint study between the Australian Government and the Government of the People's Republic of China – focuses on strengthening investment and co-operation between the two countries in the agriculture sector. We examine the background to the Report and highlight the history of, and impetus for, strategic and technological co-operation between the two countries. We also analyse the perceived challenges and roadblocks facing Chinese investment in Australia's agricultural sector.
The Commonwealth Government progressed its agenda to assist in deepening the domestic retail corporate bond market by releasing an exposure draft Corporate Amendment (Simple Corporate Bonds and Other Measures) Bill 2013 on Friday, 11 January 2013. In this alert we examine the features of a 'simple corporate bond' and the mandatory two-part prospectus, and consider the implications of the reforms for the retail corporate bond market.
On 28 December 2012, the PRC National People’s Congress passed Amendments to the PRC Labour Contract Law (the Amendments) in relation to the labour dispatch arrangement. The Amendments will come into force on 1 July 2013.
On 31 December 2012, the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC), a foreign-related arbitration commission set up by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (also known as the China Chamber of International Commerce) (CCPIT), released its Announcement on Issues Concerning CIETAC Shanghai Sub-Commission and CIETAC South China Sub-Commission" (the Latest Announcement). This is the latest development in a dispute, which has been on foot since April 2012, between CIETAC, the Shanghai Sub-Commission of CIETAC (CIETAC Shanghai), and the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration (SCIA) (the CIETAC Dispute). SCIA was known as the South China Sub-Commission of CIETAC before 22 October 2012.
On 4 January 2013, the Minister for Small Business, the Honourable Brendan O'Connor, released the timetable and Terms of Reference for the Federal Government's review of the Franchising Code of Conduct (Code) for 2013. The Minister for Small Business also announced that Mr Alan Wein, an experienced mediator and participant in the franchising sector, will be conducting the review of the Code.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council recently released its Sustainability Commitment report for 2010-11 setting out its key objectives and targets for improving sustainability in the food & beverage and grocery industry. We highlight these objectives and targets and review the national legislative and policy underpinnings of the Sustainability Commitment in the key areas of water, waste, energy & emissions, packaging and procurement.
On 17 December 2012 Treasury released a Consultation Paper on minimum governance standards for entities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), as well as draft Regulations and an Explanatory Memorandum on financial reporting obligations and annual information statements for such entities. The ACNC is also going to be offering direct consultation at road show events to explain these proposals, and the timing and venue of those events will be outlined in due course on the ACNC website. Written submissions on both proposals must be made by 15 February 2013.
Treasury has released an exposure draft of the Insurance Contracts Amendment Bill 2013 (Cth) for public consultation, which reintroduces reforms to the Insurance Contracts Act 1984 (Cth) proposed by the Insurance Contracts Amendment Bill 2010 (Cth) which lapsed in 2010 due to the prorogation of Parliament. This Alert discusses the key differences between the two Bills and provides a brief outline of the affected provisions of the Act.
The issue of unauthorised building works ('UBW') in the New Territories Exempted Houses ('NTEH') is a hot topic for property owners in the New Territories, but there is alot of confusion about what to do about this issue.