Senate supports changes to financial advice laws

On July 15 2014 the Australian senate voted in support of amendments to financial advice laws legislated for in the Corporations Act 2001. 

The changes will remove “unnecessary and costly red tape” for small business advisers, while still maintaining protection for consumers, according to a statement from the Minister of Finance’s office. 

The statutory requirements that outline that financial advisers must act in the best interests of their clients and there must be no conflicted remuneration will remain in place. However, changes will be made regarding best interest duty, advice, fee disclosure and the resigning of contracts. 

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Estate planning should include superannuation

There are a lot of things to consider when completing estate planning and drafting your will. One of these elements is your superannuation benefits. 

In May the Queensland Supreme Court made a decision on the superannuation benefits of a person who died intestate. The deceased had superannuation benefits that entitled him to the amount of $453,748.69. This amount was from three different funds. The net worth of the deceased’s assets on the other hand was approximately $80,000.

The applicant and the respondent in this case were the mother and father of the deceased respectively. The mother applied for and was granted the Letters of Administration for the estate. She applied for the monies of each superannuation fund to be paid to her instead of to the estate.

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What is intestacy?

In Queensland an intestacy arises when a person dies but does not leave behind a valid will or does not effectively dispose of their property in the will.

Provisions for how assets are to be divided under state law are laid out in Part 3 of the Succession Act 1981. Distribution of the estate is passed on through next of kin. The immediate next of kin can be a spouse, a de facto partner or children and grandchildren.

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Understanding e-Conveyancing in Queensland

Lodgement of mortgages and discharges with the Queensland Land Registry can be completed electronically through Australia’s first national online e-Conveyancing platform, Property Exchange Australia (PEXA). 

E-Conveyancing is the process of completing property transactions online, this includes electronic lodgement of the transaction with Land Registries and settlement of funds. 

Over one million property transactions are completed in scope in Australia every year, according to PEXA. The aim of PEXA is to create an online business environment that provides users with time and cost benefits. This will be delivered through two releases.

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Carbon tax repeal expected to have flow-on effect for businesses

As promised, the carbon tax has been repealed by the Australian government, which is expected to decrease costs for Australian businesses. 

A number of bills were put before the senate as part of the repeal of the Carbon Pricing Mechanism and the legislation was given Royal assent on July 17 2014. The removal of the Carbon Pricing Mechanism came into effect as of July 1 2014.

The Department of the Environment states that it is expected that the repeal of the carbon tax and the Clean Energy Package will impact on individuals and businesses by decreasing the cost of living by $550 than if the tax had not been removed and reducing retail gas and electricity rates by around 7 per cent and 9 per cent respectively. An estimated 370 liable entities will also save nearly $90 million a year on annual compliance costs. 

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Health and safety is a vital issue on farms

Last week was National Farm Safety Week in Australia. One of the key focuses this year was the safety of older workers. 

In 2013 nearly half of the fatalities (49 per cent) in Australian workplaces took place in the agriculture, transport, postal and warehousing, and forestry and fishing industries, according to a July 2014 report from Safe Work Australia, entitled Work-Related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia 2013.

Furthermore, farm workers accounted for 18 per cent of deaths in the workplace during 2013. This figure includes 24 farm managers and 11 farm labourers.

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The cost of divorce and relationship breakdowns is increasing

The cost of divorce and family breakdowns to the national economy is more than $14 billion each year, according a recent News Corp analysis.

The News Corp analysis looked at information available from the Department of Social Services, the Department of Human Services and the federal Attorney-General’s Department. The analysis indicates that the cost of divorce and family breakdowns has increased by $2 billion or 17 per cent over the last two years. 

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Debt agreements in Queensland reach a new high

Insolvency in Queensland

What is a Debt Agreement ? A debt agreement (also called a Part IX agreement) is a binding agreement under Part IX of the Bankruptcy Act 1966 between a debtor and their creditors whereby creditors agree to accept a sum of money (which is usually less than the outstanding amount) but which the debtor can afford to pay.

Debt agreements in Queensland reached an all time high in the June quarter 2014, however the level of bankruptcies and personal insolvency agreements decreased over the quarter.  

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SMEs optimistic, but without plans

Australian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are optimistic about the coming year, despite many lacking a formal business plan. 

Research from the Commonwealth Bank released in July 2014 found that 45 per cent of SMEs anticipated an increase in revenue, whereas only 28 per cent anticipated a decrease. Furthermore, 40 per cent expected an increase in profit and 33 per cent expected a decrease. 

However, over half of the respondents (51 per cent) did not have a business plan in place for the coming financial year. 507 SMEs participated in the survey and all the businesses had an annual turnover of less than $10 million.

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Employers can now opt-in to SuperStream

The federal government’s new standard for making superannuation payments, SuperStream, is now available for employers. 

SuperStream enables employers to make super contributions to employees’ super funds electronically by using linked data and payments. Employers were able to opt-in to the service from July 1 2014.

All payments towards employees’ super funds are to be treated the same way no matter what type of fund the employee has set up – a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF), an Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) fund, a default fund or a super fund of their choice.

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