Productivity Commission driving business regulation reform
As part of the Australian Government's new regulatory reform agenda, the Office of Regulation Review (which is part of the Productivity Commission) has been renamed The Office of Best Practice Regulation.
The Productivity Commission has released a discussion draft, Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation.
Cole Inquiry Report
The Attorney-General has tabled the Report of the Inquiry into Certain Australian Companies in relation to the UN Oil-for-Food Programme in Parliament.
Ecommerce and Consumer Credit
UCCCMC has released some FAQ's for consumers on the effect of the Consumer Credit Code ecommerce amendments.
Regulation of the Financial Advice Industry in Australia
ASIC Chair Jeffery Lucy recently addressed the Financial Planning Association to give the Regulator's Perspective.
He discussed the current issues ASIC was concerned about (including the quality of advice being given to consumers and advisers' remuneration models) and concluded :
Where conflicts of interest arise because of the remuneration you will receive if your client accepts your recommendation or an association between the recommended financial product and your licensee, this must be clearly disclosed or, in certain situations, avoided completely. This ensures that your client can understand how your advice may have been influenced but, of course, does not eliminate the requirement that the advice must be in the clients’ best interests. Disclosure does not eliminate the need for the advice to be appropriate.
Telephone numbers to be protected
The Telecommunications Amendment (Integrated Public Number Database) Bill 2006 will amend the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Telecommunications Act) to provide additional safeguards to ensure that integrated public number database (IPND) information is only disclosed and used for the purposes specified in Part 13 of the Telecommunications Act.
The IPND is an industry-wide database of all residential and business phone numbers (both listed and unlisted) and associated customer information, including name and address information. The IPND was established and is maintained by Telstra as a condition of its carrier licence.
The insertion of a definition of public number directory into the Telecommunications Act is intended to prevent IPND information being used directly to produce records or databases which are used for such purposes as marketing, data cleansing and appending, debt collection, identity verification and credit checking and to limit the extent to which records which are public number directories (within the meaning of the definition in the Bill) are readily able to be used for such purposes.
Comment: The Australian
ACMA issues first communications industry report
The ACMA Communications Report 2005–2006 assesses industry performance across the communications, internet and broadcasting sectors.
The report is structured into four parts, covering:
- an overview of the communications operating environment in 2005–06,
- a snapshot of key participants in the communications environment,
- analysis of the benefits that accrue to consumers from access communications services; and
- an assessment of some of the challenges posed by the emerging communications environment.
APRA overview of superannuation industry
Speaking at the ASFA 2006 National Conference and Super Expo in Perth, APRA Deputy Chair Ross Jones has given an overview of the Australian superannuation industry in the last 5 years.
- At 30 June 2006, it was estimated that total assets were $914 billion, a 76 percent increase over five years.
- In the five years to 30 June 2006, the number of superannuation entities increased by 47 per cent from 222,971 to 327,832. This is due largely to the large increase in self managed superannuation funds, which have increased 52 per cent from 210,667 at June 2001 to 320,003 at June 2006. Conversely, the number of funds with more than four members has fallen by 77 per cent from 3,730 to 870 over the same period.
- At 30 June 2004 there were 1275 trustees. At 30 June 2006 there were 307 licensed trustees
Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering reviews Australia's observance
The International Monetary Fund has released Australia: Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes—FATF Recommendations for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism.
The Report makes recommendations for improving both enforcement and preventative measures and is supplemental to the FATF's March 2005 on-site report.
Corporate and Financial Services Regulation Review Proposals Paper
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer has released the Corporate and Financial Services Regulation Review Proposals Paper. The 35 proposals include suggestions to simplify and improve regulation in the areas of:
- financial services;
- company reporting obligations;
- auditor independence;
- corporate governance;
- takeovers; and
The time for submissions closes on 22 December 2006.
The corporations and financial services law reform proposals will be included in a Bill, to be introduced into the Parliament in 2007, entitled the Simpler Regulatory System Bill.
Workplace Relations Act changes
- protect employee redundancy pay entitlements: agreement based redundancy entitlements will continue to operate for 12-months after an agreement is terminated unless a new agreement is made earlier;
- address the potential for increased costs associated with annual leave accrual and personal/carer’s leave payment under the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard by capping the accrual of annual and personal/carer’s leave under the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard (the Standard), so that paid leave would not accrue in respect of hours worked above 38 hours per week and make the payment rules for personal/carer’s leave, compassionate leave and leave for pregnant employees who cannot be transferred to a safe job consistent with the payment rule for annual leave (that is, the employee’s basic periodic rate of pay);
- provide a default right for an employer to stand down employees where work is unavailable due to factors outside the employer’s control. This provision would apply where an employer does not otherwise have (through an award, agreement or contract) an automatic right to stand an employee down where work is unavailable due to factors outside the employer’s control;
- enable employees to cash out personal/carers leave: an employee would be able to cash out any amount of personal/carer’s leave, provided that for full-time employees working a 38-hour week at least 15 days remain available after cashing out; and
- amend the record-keeping regulations to streamline the record-keeping requirements: employers will only be requireed to record only those hours for which an employee is entitled to overtime or other penalty rates, rather than all hours worked.