Commonwealth Legislative Update

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Legislation 

  • Legislation for Crowd Funding for Small Businesses Introduced

The Corporations Amendment (Crowd-sourced Funding for Proprietary Companies) Bill 2017 (Cth) has been introduced which will allow small and medium sized enterprises greater access to funding. Currently, proprietary companies are limited in their ability to access equity funding and thereby raise capital to support operating costs. Propriety companies will be able to have an unlimited amount of crowdfunding shareholders, although financial reporting and governance requirements will be strengthened. Audits will be required once a company raises in excess of three million dollars, companies will require two directors instead of one, and related party transactions that currently only apply to public companies will now apply to crowd-funded small proprietary companies. It is hoped that increasing access to finance will allow innovative companies to take greater risks and make Australia more accessible for those in the start-up economy. In order to be considered a small proprietary company, the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) limits the number of shareholders to 50. Under the proposed legislation, equity sourced from crowd-funding investors will not be included in this typical shareholder count. The Bill remains before the House of Representatives.

  • Coastal Shipping Regulation Amendments Introduced

The Government has introduced amendments to the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012 (Cth) with the intention of reducing the administrative burden associated with shipping. The amendments are said to allow more streamlined access to temporary and immediate licence variations as well as expand the definition of ‘coastal trading’ to include voyages within Australian waters. The Bill remains before the House of Representatives.

  • Anti-Dumping Legislation Introduced

The Government has introduced the Customs Amendment (Anti-Dumping Measures) Bill 2017 (Cth) which will increase protections for Australia . Dumping occurs when the price of goods exported to Australia is lower than the price for those goods in the exporting country. The Customs Amendment (Anti-Dumping Measures) Bill 2017 (Cth) is now receiving submissions from the public and industry regarding the amendments.

  • Media Laws Pass the Senate

The Government has secured majority support in the Senate for the Commercial Broadcasting (Tax) Bill 2017 (Cth) which will see the abolition of the ‘75% audience reach rule’ and the ‘2 out of 3 cross-media control rule’, both of which served to limit media concentration. The Bill will need to be reintroduced to the House of Representatives before it can turn into law.

 

Inquiries 

  • Senate Reports on Stop Adani Bill

 The Environment and Communications Legislation Committee has tabled its report on the Environment and Infrastructure Legislation Amendment (Stop Adani) Bill 2017 (Cth) which ultimately dismisses the need for the Bill. The Committee found that the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) sufficiently protects the environment whilst balancing the economically-vital resource sector. The Committee suggested that by passing the Bill, the regulatory burden on business and administrative burden government would exceed any net benefit potentially gained through environmental protection. Further, the retrospective and targeted nature of the Bill would increase government liability and sovereign risk by impacting investment transparency in Australia. The Committee also rejected the proposed suitable person test needing to be inserted into the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Act 2016 (Cth) finding it to be a duplication of process already executed under due diligence requirements. The recommendation was supported by both Liberal, Nationals and Labor committee members with the Greens dissenting.

  • Implications of Climate Change for Australia’s National Security Senate Inquiry Receiving Submissions

The Implications of Climate Change for Australia’s National Security Senate Inquiry is still receiving submissions regarding long-term, both humanitarian and military, risks posed by climate change to national security. The Committee is also tasked with investigating the role of Australia’s climate mitigation policies in reducing national security risks. The final report is due to be tabled by 4 December 2017.

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