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Key developments

  • Proposed measures in response to events involving PwC
  • Inquiry into artificial intelligence in New South Wales
  • Legislating the objective of superannuation
  • Independent review of the National Legal Assistance Partnership
  • Small Business Charter and Action Plan
  • NSW Electoral Commission’s Technology Assisted Voting interim review report
  • Consultation on the Draft Best Practice Principles and Standards for Skilled Migration Assessing Authorities
  • Inquiry into the planning system and the impacts of climate change on the environment and communities
  • The Government’s response to the statutory review of the Personal Property Securities Act 2009
  • Achieving greater consistency in laws for financial Enduring Powers of Attorney
  • Review of Division 3 of Part III of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979
  • Review of Australia’s visa Significant Cost Threshold
  • Review of Subdivision C of Division 3 of Part 2 of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (Cth) (Citizenship Cessation Determinations)
  • Inquiry into e-cigarette regulation and compliance in New South Wales
  • Inquiry into Children in Alternative Care Arrangements
  • Identification of property sold under power of attorney

Proposed measures in response to events involving PwC

The Business Law Committee provided input to the Law Council of Australia for its submission to Treasury on four draft exposure Bills to amend taxation legislation. The purpose of the draft legislation is to address the shortcomings in regulatory frameworks with respect to the tax advice industry that was exposed as a result of the PwC matter.

Our general observation was that the draft legislation appeared to be a reasonable response to the particular issues that arose out of the PwC matter and provided useful safeguards to assist with the striking down of tax avoidance arrangements. We advocated for amendments to clarify the scope of the Treasury on-disclosure powers and to protect the information shared. We raised similar concerns with respect to the proposal to expand whistleblower protections and suggested prescribing limits to the dissemination of disclosures to mitigate risk to the security of that information.

Our submission noted the significant increase in penalties for promotion of tax avoidance and tax evasion schemes. We stated that while we support deterring such behaviour, caution should be taken to ensure desirable behaviour is not discouraged and that technical breaches, where there is no intention to promote a scheme, are not caught. Severe penalties may have a general deterrent effect but they may also induce other previously complying advisers to limit or temper their participation, thereby potentially compromising the quality of independent advice available.

Inquiry into artificial intelligence in New South Wales

The Privacy and Data Law and Public Law Committees contributed to a submission to the NSW Parliamentary inquiry into artificial intelligence (‘AI’) in NSW. The Inquiry was established in June 2023 to inquire into and report on AI in NSW.

We suggested that the Inquiry should adopt a holistic view of AI use and regulation in Australia and draw upon the findings of several major law reform initiatives to date. We called for nationally consistent AI laws, and increased coordination between the States and the Commonwealth in developing future AI policies and initiatives. We supported the development of AI regulations that are flexible, scalable and principles based.

We supported the Inquiry’s review of the NSW Government’s policy framework for AI and suggested that consideration be given to potentially expanding its use. We drew attention to the need for transparency in automated decisions affecting the delivery of government services.

We suggested that consideration should be given to addressing the human rights implications of AI, and the issue of algorithmic bias, through appropriate safeguards and privacy protections.

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