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Filter by June, 2016

Seafood Country of Origin Labelling: prospects of future reform?

Country of origin labelling (CoOL) of food (including seafood) is an issue that has attracted concern and controversy over many years. The Government’s new country of origin labelling requirements take effect on 1 July 2016, but do not address concerns about the exemption of seafood sold for immediate consumption by restaurants, cafes and other food vendors from mandatory CoOL requirements.   A number of reviews into food labelling have examined that issue. The Blewett Review in 2011 recommended against extending CoOL to foods sold in restaurants. However, a 2014 inquiry by the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee (the Senate Inquiry) into the labe... Read more...

How might a Trump presidency affect Australia?

The US Republican Party is poised to nominate Donald Trump as its candidate for the November 2016 presidential election. Trump has no previous experience of governing, no record of military service and has evinced little interest in policy details. He has, however, suggested that Muslims should be prohibited from entering America, that Japan and South Korea should consider developing nuclear weapons, and praised authoritarian leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. These compliments have been reciprocated, illustrating that Trump is no ordinary candidate. Given its close strategic relationship with America, it is timely to assess what a Trump presidency might mean for Australia. Read more...

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A new way to set up a Commonwealth organisation

On 1 July 2016, two new corporate Commonwealth entities (CCEs) will be established: the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) and Old Parliament House (OPH). While their functions will differ greatly, they will be the first CCEs established using a mechanism that became available in July 2014 under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). The new mechanism enables CCEs to be established (and abolished) by means of disallowable legislative instruments made by the Minister for Finance, rather than by Acts as has generally been the case previously.  Read more...

Milk prices: What’s really happening

In April and May 2016, Australia’s two largest dairy processors, Murray Goulburn (MG) and Fonterra retrospectively lowered the price they would pay their suppliers for milk. With effect from 1 July 2015 they would pay between $4.75 and $5.00 per kg of milk solids, down from $5.60 per kg. This has attracted much media attention, focusing on the plight of the affected dairy farmers. Commentators have offered suggestions to support the dairy farmers. Some, incorrectly assuming the current circumstances arise substantially from the $1 a litre ‘milk wars’, suggest a levy on the sale of fresh milk and that consumers buy more branded fresh milk and other dairy products. ... Read more...

Tiny plastics causing big problems in our oceans

There is growing concern over the problem of plastic pollution in the marine environment. Over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing 269,000 tons, are believed to be spread throughout the earth’s oceans. Plastics decay slowly and often travel far from their origin in ocean currents, leading to accumulation in the marine environment and even the remote oceans around Antarctica, which contain approximately 50,000 plastic particles per square kilometre. Larger plastic items tend to degrade into smaller plastics and can become ‘microplastics’ (generally classified as plastics smaller than 5mm in size). Primary microplastics, including microbeads, are manufactured deliberate... Read more...

Changes to the Foreign Investment Review Board tax conditions

In February 2014, Treasurer Joe Hockey stated that the tax affairs of foreign investors would be taken into account when foreign investment proposals were considered by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). In February 2016, the Government announced that conditions aimed at ensuring ‘multinational companies investing in Australia pay tax here on what they earn’ would be applied by the FIRB to foreign investment proposals. Following consultations between Treasury, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and industry, in May 2016 the Government revised the tax conditions that will apply to certain foreign investment proposals. The revised conditions addressed concerns raised by... Read more...

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