Legislation 2021 – What remains before parliament?

Explore which bills have been introduced in the Australian Parliament but are yet to be passed.

Senators and Members of Parliament will return to Canberra on Tuesday 2 February to begin sittings for 2021.

Below is a list of tax and economics-related bills – introduced in 2020 and 2019 – with an outline of what they propose and their current status within Parliament.

Bills before the House of Representatives

Bills before the Senate

Bills before the House of Representatives

The Customs Tariff Amendment (Incorporation of Proposals and Other Measures) Bill 2020 was introduced in the House of Representatives on 3 December 2020. The Bill proposes to clarify the tariff classification of vitamin products, nutraceuticals and food supplements to ensure these products are dutiable as food supplements (unless they are imported from a free trade partner, and eligible for free trade agreement preferential duties).

The National Consumer Credit Protection Amendment (Supporting Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 was introduced in the House of Representatives on 9 December 2020.

The Bill proposes to amend the Credit Act:

  • so that responsible lending obligations apply only to small amount credit contracts and consumer leases (and small amount credit contract-equivalent loans by ADIs) beginning on the later of 1 March 2021 and the day after Royal Assent; and
  • to enhance the consumer protection framework for consumers of small amount credit contracts and consumer leases, while ensuring these products can continue to fulfil an important role in the economy.

The Financial Sector Reform (Hayne Royal Commission Response No. 2) Bill 2020 was introduced in the House of Representatives on 9 December 2020.

The Bill proposes to:

  • require financial services providers that receive fees under an ongoing fee arrangement to:
    • provide clients with a single document each year which outlines the fees that will be charged and the services which the client will be entitled to in the following 12 months and which seeks annual renewal from clients for all ongoing fee arrangements; and
    • obtain written consent before fees under an ongoing fee arrangement can be deducted from a client’s account;
  • require a providing entity (a financial services licensee or authorised representative) to give a written disclosure of lack of independence where they are authorised to provide personal advice to a retail client; and
  • increase the visibility of advice fees for all superannuation products and prohibit the charging of ongoing advice fees from MySuper products.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2020 was introduced in the House of Representatives on 9 December 2020.

The Bill proposes to establish a mandatory code of conduct to help support the sustainability of the Australian news media sector by addressing bargaining power imbalances between digital platforms and Australian news businesses.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (2020 Measures No. 4) Bill 2020 was introduced in the House of Representatives on 28 October 2020.

The Bill proposes to:

  • make refunds of large-scale generation shortfall charges non-assessable non-exempt income for income tax purposes;
  • facilitate the closure and any transitional arrangements associated with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority replacing the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal;
  • increase the maximum amount of penalty units that can be included in regulations that prescribe an industry code from 300 penalty units to 600 penalty units; and
  • extend the operation of Schedule 5 of the Coronavirus (Measures No. 2) Act, which provides a temporary mechanism for responsible Ministers to change arrangements for meeting information and documentary requirements under Commonwealth legislation, including requirements to give information and produce, witness and sign documents, in response to the challenges posed by the Coronavirus.

The Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2020 was introduced in the House of Representatives on 10 December 2020. The Bill proposes to amend and build on the existing regulatory regime created by the Act and to enhance the security and resilience of critical infrastructure assets and systems of national significance.

Bills before the Senate

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Economic Disruption) Bill 2020, which passed the House of Representatives on 10 December 2020, would allow information and documents gained under the Proceeds of Crime Act to be disclosed to non-compliance investigating authorities such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

The Bill proposes to:

  • amend the Proceeds of Crime Act to strengthen and clarify provisions to ensure that law enforcement agencies can restrain and forfeit the profits gained by transnational, serious and organised crime (TSOC) actors;
  • amend the defence of ‘mistake of fact’ as to the value of money or property, ensuring that potential loopholes in the current defence cannot be exploited;
  • creates an additional tier of offences for the highest-level money launderers, who deal with money or property valued at $10 million or more;
  • clarify the definition of the term ‘benefit’ under the Proceeds of Crime Act to include the avoidance, deferral or reduction of a debt, loss or liability;
  • clarify that all courts with jurisdiction under the Proceeds of Crime Act are able to make orders in relation to property located overseas; and
  • enhance the ability of law enforcement to enforce compliance with the information-gathering powers in the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Self Managed Superannuation Funds) Bill 2020, introduced in the Senate on 2 September 2020, proposes to increase the maximum number of allowable members in self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) and small APRA funds from four to six.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (More Flexible Superannuation) Bill 2020 passed the House of Representatives on 31 August 2020. The Bill proposes to:

  • extend access to the superannuation bring-forward arrangements to people aged 65 and 66 from 1 July 2020; and
  • align the cut-off age of 67 for the bring-forward arrangements with the eligibility age for the pension, which is scheduled to reach 67 on 1 July 2023.

The superannuation bring-forward arrangement allows individuals to make up to three years’ worth of non-concessional contributions to their superannuation in a single year.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Reuniting More Superannuation) Bill 2020 passed the House of Representatives on 11 February 2020.

The Bill proposes to allow eligible rollover fund trustees to voluntarily transfer any amount to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), with a requirement to transfer all accounts below $6,000 to the ATO by 30 June 2020, and all remaining accounts to the ATO by 30 June 2021.

The Australian Business Growth Fund Bill 2019 passed the House of Representatives on 6 February 2020. In a report tabled on 21 February 2020, the Economics Legislation Committee recommended the Bill be passed.

The Bill proposes to:

  • authorise the Commonwealth Government to participate in forming, and acquiring shares in or debentures of, the Australian Business Growth Fund (BGF), and appropriates $100 million for that purpose; and
  • offer growing, established companies and entrepreneurs long-term capital and strategic support to assist them to reach their growth potential.

The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Amendment (Tax Transparency in Procurement and Grants) Bill 2019 was introduced on 13 November 2019 as a Private Members Bill by Senator Rex Patrick. The Bill proposes to impose disclosure, consideration and reporting requirements on government agencies and Commonwealth entities entering into contracts with companies or providing grants to persons or companies that are, or have related entities, domiciled in prescribed tax havens.

The Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee has recommended the legislation not be passed.

The Coronavirus Economic Support and Recovery (No-one Left Behind) Bill 2020, introduced by Greens Senator Larissa Waters on 11 June 2020 as a Private Members Bill,  proposes a number of changes to the JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs.

This article was originally published on KPMG Tax Now, KPMG Australia’s subscription tax news service for clients.

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