Productivity Commission announces regulation review of primary sector
The Productivity Commission's first annual regulation review will focus on the regulatory burden on business in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining sectors and will commence on 1 April 2007.
The Productivity Commission will report the findings of this first annual review at the end of October 2007.
Airport policing and security
The Bill provides for background criminal and security assessment for applicants for the Aviation Security Identity Card (ASIC) and the Maritime Security Identity Card (MSIC).
The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the Bill.
The Privacy Commissioner has released the OFPC's comments.
ATO Code of Settlement Practice
The Tax Office has issued a revised Code of Settlement Practice effective 21 February 2007.
The Code provides guidance for Tax Office staff on:
- the settlement of taxation disputes in relation to all taxpayers
- where settlement could be considered, and
- outlines the processes which should be followed.
The Code is intended to provide guidance on the following principal matters:
- what constitutes a settlement, including special considerations that apply to borderline questions of fact and law, and disputes as to quantum
- the legal basis for making settlements in taxation disputes, and the scope of the "good management rule"
- whether a settlement is appropriate in view of factors such as:
- whether there is an actual or pending ATO view;
- the likelihood of inconsistent treatment;
- the likelihood or desirability of litigation;
- the possible effect on compliance;
- the ability of the taxpayer to pay;
- the availability of alternative methods of dispute resolution;
- any other special factors; and
- additional considerations that apply to global settlements
- the relationship between settlement procedures and actual or potential prosecution action, and the procedures that must be followed in such cases, including notification requirements
- the appropriate treatment of penalties and interest charges in cases involving settlements
- the procedures that should be followed in negotiations for a settlement, including approval of decision makers, establishment of the ATO view, obtaining advice from counsel, the conduct of proceedings, documentation requirements and the avoidance of conflicts of interest, and
- the procedures that should be followed in making and documenting a settlement agreement and determining its scope, including ensuring that it complies with the Code and lodgment on the Settlement Register.
ASIC releases policy on disclosure in reconstructions
ASIC has released a policy statement regarding
disclosure in reconstructions or capital reductions involving an issue
Disclosure in reconstructions [PS 188] confirms invitations to vote on an issue of securities constitute an ‘offer’ for the purposes of the prospectus provisions of the Corporations Act. This means a prospectus must accompany the notice of meeting.
‘Reconstructions’ are not formal schemes of arrangement under Pt 5.1 of the Act, but bear similarities to them. A foreign scheme of arrangement or a trust scheme is a reconstruction.
Reform of personal property securities
In November 2006, the Australian Attorney-General released a discussion paper on the proposed national personal property securities (PPS) register,Registration and Search Issues.
The discussion paper is the first in a series of three discussion papers dealing with key PPS reform policy issues. The second discussion paper will deal with priorities, conflict of laws, insolvency and enforcement issues.The third discussion paper will deal with issues specific to possessory security interests.
This review is about the creation of a national register that will consolidate all security interests that are created by a contractual agreement and which are held over personal property.
The Privacy Commissioner has released her comments on the first discussion paper.
She observed that:
Currently, it would be difficult for a casual browser to obtain all the pieces of information required to build a comprehensive profile of any one person with regard to security interests held over their personal property. The proposed register would consolidate this information into one centralised database which may allow a casual browser to more easily know all or most of the security interests held over the personal property of an individual.
The Office has some reservations about the privacy implications that
may arise from the ability to develop a financial profile of any one
individual, either in relation to the personal property they hold or in
relation to the extent of their indebtedness or, in some cases, the
extent of the security interests a particular individual holds.
Australian Food News
The Australian Food News website has launched a Regulatory and Compliance section containing food industry news as well as information on food law, the food standards code, industry sectors and food types.
ASIC issues example of relief application
ASIC has issued an information sheet and practical example illustrating the type of information typically required in an application for relief from a requirement in the Corporations Act or the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993.
Access Card Consumer and Privacy Taskforce Discussion Paper 2: Voluntary and Medical Emergency Information
Chair of the Access Card Consumer and Privacy Taskforce, Professor Allan Fels AO, has released a discussion paper on Voluntary and Medical Emergency Information that can be considered for inclusion in the consumer-controlled area of the access card.
The paper notes that:
"The key question which needs to be addressed is what information is absolutely necessary to be available from the chip [in the customer controlled area of the access card] to facilitate emergency medical treatment of a person in a crisis situation. Furthermore, what information is merely convenient for a cardholder to have available to them by way of storage in the customer-controlled area of their access card...
The decision about what specific health and emergency data might be listed in the card is a considerably more complex matter than might have been anticipated. It is not simply a matter of storing anything or everything in an unselected fashion. This is because the data entered into the chip is data which is intended to be acted upon by other people. This is not data, such as the storage of a list or a telephone number or a birthday or a bank account number, where the action which flows from the storage of the data is action initiated by the cardholder themselves. This is data upon which other people act in good faith and where their actions may have significant (and potentially life-threatening) consequences for both parties concerned....
Because of this, there must, in the opinion of the Taskforce be a requirement, for the protection of the person who acts in good faith on the data provided by the cardholder, that a robust system of authentication and verification must be incorporated into the storage process. Without such a checking mechanism the storage of the data becomes less than useful, since third parties will either decline to act, or be restrained from acting, on the data, thus negating the whole purpose of its listing in the first instance."
The Taskforce has recommended that:
The customer controlled area of the access card should contain a two-tiered system of emergency and health information:
• in the first tier, which should be accessible to anyone with an approved reader, there should be listed only that data which is absolutely necessary to facilitate the provision of emergency health treatment in a crisis situation;
• in the second tier, which should be PIN protected (and thus accessible only with the express consent of the cardholder) other medical and health data could be listed in accordance with the Recommendations which appear below;
• the Access Card itself could contain, on the surface, some symbol (such as the caduceus) to indicate that emergency medical data is stored in the chip so that no time is wasted in an emergency situation looking for information which may not be there in the first instance.
Submissions on the discussion paper close on 16 March 2007.
AUSTRAC and APRA sign MOU
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate cooperation and the exchange of information between the two regulators.
APRA Chairman Dr John Laker said the MoU, which follows the introduction of the AML/CTF Act permitting AUSTRAC to exchange information with the prudential regulator, will enable on-going collaboration between the two agencies.
3 directors resign from James Hardie
The Board of James Hardie has accepted the resignations from the Board and Board Committees of Chairman, Meredith Hellicar, and non-executive directors, Michael Brown and Michael Gillfillan.
Hellicar's letter of resignation said that her resignation was the only way to deal with her potential conflicts and that a special board committee to deal with the litigation independent of her would not have avoided perceptions of conflict.