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Doing business in Australia | An introductory guide

1 min  01.12.2016
Welcome to our introductory guide to doing business in Australia. In this publication, we answer questions frequently asked by those unfamiliar with the Australian business environment.

Key takeouts


Australian business is conducted in a transparent, well regulated and politically stable environment.
Foreign investment is welcomed, with all levels of government keen to promote business, economic development and employment growth.
This article gives readers an overview of Australia's business rules, from foreign investment guidelines to taxation, consumer protection, intellectual property and the employment law system.

In Australia, business is conducted in a transparent, well regulated and politically stable environment. The 2013 World Bank Doing Business report judged Australia to be amongst the top 10 most straightforward and affordable countries in which to start up a business and in terms of overall ease of doing business. Foreign investment is welcomed, with all levels of government keen to promote business, economic development and employment growth.

MinterEllison's popular guide Doing Business in Australia gives readers an overview of Australia's business rules, from foreign investment guidelines to taxation, consumer protection, intellectual property and the employment law system.

This plain English guide has been fully revised and is current as at December 2016. It provides answers to preliminary questions frequently asked by those unfamiliar with the Australian business environment and is essential reading for anyone considering investing in Australia or starting up a business in this country.

Overview

Foreign investment is welcome in Australia, with all levels of government keen to promote business, economic development and employment growth.

Australia’s economy ranks among the 20 largest in the world, with a per capita GDP on par with the four dominant West European economies. Business in Australia is conducted in a transparent, well regulated and politically stable environment. The judiciary is open, independent and accessible. The climate is superb and living standards are high.

Doing Business reports regularly judge Australia to be amongst the top 10 most straightforward and affordable countries in which to start up a business and in terms of overall ease of doing business.

The Australian labour force is highly educated with a strong multicultural background. Approximately 42% of Australia’s working age population has a university degree, diploma or trade qualification. Of the approximately 24 million people in Australia, more than 1.4 million are fluent in a major Asian language and more than 1.2 million are fluent in a major European language.

Government

Australia is a very stable democracy with a federal system of government, which is based on the United States model (where power is shared between a federal government and the government of each state/territory).

The Commonwealth of Australia’s government and each state or territory government operates in a manner similar to the United Kingdom’s Westminster system, where the executive is directed by and reports to the parliament via ministers.

Under the Australian Constitution, the federal parliament may legislate in, and therefore controls, taxation, foreign investment, defence, the banking and monetary system, telecommunications, interstate and overseas trade, trade mark and patent registration and foreign affairs.

The states and territories retain responsibility for education, health, policing, roads and traffic although the federal government’s predominant revenue raising capacity has resulted in its growing influence over these areas.

Below the federal, state or territory governments are local governments comprised of locally elected representatives. These exist as city, town or shire councils and oversee local land use, development and planning laws.

Legal system

Australia’s legal system is based on the British model where laws are developed and shaped not just by the federal parliament and parliaments of the states and territories, but also through the decisions of an independent judiciary.

The Australian judiciary consists of two branches: a federal branch and state and territory branches. The High Court of Australia is the highest court in the country and has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over federal, state and territory courts.

The Federal Court of Australia hears appeals from inferior tribunals and retains original jurisdiction over federal law matters, including immigration, industrial relations and corporations.

All states and territories have a Supreme Court as their highest court, with appeal divisions in civil and criminal matters. Most states also have a District Court, which has jurisdiction over civil matters (usually below a A$1 million limit) and criminal matters that are less serious indictable offences, and a Magistrate’s Court or Local Court, which has jurisdiction over smaller civil matters and summary matters.

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