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Wednesday, 11 August 2021
Page: 3

Mr SUKKAR (DeakinAssistant Treasurer, Minister for Housing and Minister for Homelessness, Social and Community Housing) (09:32): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill implements a number of streamlining and integrity measures and improves the visibility of superannuation assets during family law proceedings.

Schedule 1 to the bill will amend the income tax law to ensure that no tax is payable on refunds of large-scale generation certificate shortfall charges.

This measure will apply to refunds paid since 1 January 2019.

Under the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000, energy retailers and other liable entities must surrender large-scale generation certificates or pay a shortfall charge. This shortfall charge can be refunded where the outstanding certificates are surrendered within the allowable refund period.

This measure will clarify the operation of the income tax law for energy providers and will ensure that the market for large-scale generation certificates works as intended, meeting targets for clean energy while minimising costs for consumers.

Schedule 2 to the bill will enable the government to establish a more effective enforcement regime to encourage greater compliance with the industry codes of conduct by increasing the maximum civil pecuniary penalty amount from 300 to 600 penalty units ($133,200). For a breach of the franchising code by a corporation, the maximum civil penalty available will be the greater of $10 million, three times the benefit obtained from the contravention of the code, or 10 per cent of annual turnover. For non-corporations, the maximum civil penalty available will be $500,000.

Appropriate penalties in the franchising code are necessary to provide a strong deterrent against breaches of the code across the franchising sector, particularly by large multinational franchisors.

Schedule 3 to the bill will reduce red tape and costs for self-managed superannuation funds and small Australian Prudential Regulation Authority funds by removing a redundant requirement for superannuation trustees to obtain an actuarial certificate when calculating exempt current pension income, where all members of the fund are fully in the retirement phase for the entire income year.

This measure delivers on a 2019-20 budget commitment to reduce costs and simplify reporting for superannuation funds by streamlining some administrative requirements for the calculation of exempt current pension income. This is achieved by permitting affected funds to use the segregated method to calculate exempt current pension income.

Schedule 4 to the bill will amend to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) to strengthen the industry codes framework and provide legal certainty that industry codes of conduct can confer powers and functions on third parties to the commercial relationship between industry participants.

Currently, the regulation-making power does not explicitly extend to regulating third parties that assist in administrating or regulating functions of those codes.

These amendments will remove unintended ambiguity by clarifying that these third-party roles are recognised and valid under industry codes. This will provide legal certainty for industry participants across the various codes and avoid risks of legal dispute in the future.

Schedule 5 to the bill improves the visibility of superannuation assets during family law property proceedings.

Where one party is not forthcoming with their superannuation assets during these proceedings, at present it can be complex, costly and time consuming for the other party to access this information.

This schedule amends the Family Law Act 1975 and the Taxation Administration Act 1953to allow parties to family law proceedings in the Federal Circuit and Family Court, and the Family Court of Western Australia, to apply to the Family Court registries to request information from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) that will assist them to identify their former partner's superannuation interests.

The amendments also allow for the development of a secure information-sharing mechanisms between the courts and the ATO, as well as setting out the specific rules regarding the disclosure of this information. These amendments ensure this protected information cannot be accessed by unauthorised parties or shared outside of the specific context of permitted family law proceedings.

By supporting more just and equitable division of property, these amendments will help alleviate the financial hardship and negative impact on retirement incomes from separation.

Full details of the measures are contained in the explanatory memorandum.

Debate adjourned.