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Paving the way for future international trade

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Paving the way for future international trade

Australia has hosted the 26th Session of the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems (CCFICS26) with delegates from over 60 countries participating to develop principles and guidelines to facilitate trade in safe food.

Wrapping up for another year, CCFICS26 progressed standards that can improve the efficiency of international trade for our food industries and food safety outcomes for consumers around the world.

The Australian delegation was led by Assistant Secretary, Export Standards Branch, Dr Anna Somerville, who said she was pleased to see the guidance on remote audit and inspection agreed by the committee, and expressed her gratitude to Canada, Singapore and China for their co-chairing of the work.

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“Finalising this work in such a short time frame is unprecedented and demonstrates the commitment of CCFICS to quickly address emerging issues and provide useful guidance that is needed right now to promote trade in safe food,” Dr Somerville said.

“The continued use of these remote tools will help further develop capabilities, improve efficiency and reduce regulatory burden.”

Chair of CCFICS, Nicola Hinder PSM said CCFICS is the jewel in the crown of Codex.

“It plays a vital role in aligning methods and procedures to protect the health of consumers, promote fair practices in food trade and facilitate international trade,” Ms Hinder said.

“This year the committee progressed guidance on topics including equivalence of food regulatory systems, remote audit and inspection, prevention and control of food fraud, and traceability.

“I am incredibly proud of the ongoing work CCFICS is doing to contribute to global efforts to provide safe food to people everywhere.”

To read the full report from CCFICS26, visit meeting-detail | CODEXALIMENTARIUS FAO-WHO

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Potential $1 Trillion Cost to Taxpayers from Superannuation Withdrawal for Home Deposits

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Potential $1 Trillion Cost to Taxpayers from Superannuation Withdrawal for Home Deposits

 

Newly released modelling commissioned by the Super Members Council reveals significant long-term fiscal implications for Australian taxpayers stemming from proposals allowing young Australians to utilise their superannuation to fund house deposits. According to the analysis, unrestricted access to superannuation funds for this purpose could saddle taxpayers with costs amounting to a staggering $1 trillion over time.

Key Findings of the Report

  • Financial Impact: The proposal to allow a capped withdrawal of $50,000 from superannuation accounts for home deposits could result in a $300 billion drain on federal resources across future decades. In contrast, an uncapped withdrawal policy could inflate this cost to approximately $1 trillion by century’s end.
  • Increased Pension Dependency: The report underscores a critical concern that enabling first-time homebuyers to dip into their superannuation will lead to significantly reduced balances upon retirement. This reduction is expected to increase reliance on taxpayer-funded age pensions, thereby escalating government expenditures considerably.
  • Economic Consequences: At its peak, the capped withdrawal policy could impose an additional annual cost of $8 billion on taxpayers, with the uncapped option potentially reaching an annual cost of $25 billion.

Impact on Housing Market and Home Ownership

The modelling also highlights adverse effects on the housing market, predicting an increase in capital city house prices by an average of $75,000, which could further exacerbate the housing affordability crisis. This inflationary effect contradicts the policy’s intention to enhance home ownership rates, instead potentially delaying entry into the housing market for future generations.

Expert Opinions and Recommendations

Misha Schubert, CEO of the Super Members Council, criticised the policy proposals as economically imprudent. Schubert emphasised that such policies not only fail to address home ownership rates but also worsen housing affordability and erode retirement savings, leaving a hefty tax burden for all Australians.

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“Economic evidence consistently shows that breaking open super for house deposits will not resolve the housing crisis but will rather inflate property prices and amplify pension costs,” said Schubert.

Call for Policy Rethink

The Super Members Council is advocating for a reconsideration of any policy that might weaken the integrity and success of the superannuation system, which has been pivotal in ensuring a secure retirement for millions of Australians. The Council warns against the long-term economic pitfalls of such policies, suggesting they would undermine the foundational goals of the superannuation system.

Analytical Backdrop

The findings are based on comprehensive microsimulation models developed by Deloitte, accounting for demographic shifts, superannuation contributions and balances, and projected tax and pension expenditures. This robust analytical approach reinforces the credibility of the projected fiscal and market impacts.

In conclusion, the Super Members Council urges policymakers to preserve the superannuation system’s strength, cautioning against decisions that could compromise both individual financial security and broader economic stability.

 

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Australia Tax Season: ATO Highlights Key Areas of Concern to Avoid Costly Mistakes

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Australia Tax Season: ATO Highlights Key Areas of Concern to Avoid Costly Mistakes

 

As the Australian tax season approaches, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is tightening scrutiny on common areas where taxpayers often make costly errors.

The ATO’s focus is on incorrect claims for work-related expenses, exaggerated deductions on rental properties, and the omission of income sources in tax filings. Here’s a detailed look at each area and guidance on how to navigate them.

Work-Related Expenses:

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In response to changing work environments, the ATO has adjusted the methods for claiming working-from-home deductions. Effective from July 1, 2022, the simplified $0.80 per hour rate was replaced with a $0.67 per hour rate, alongside stricter record-keeping requirements. Last year, millions claimed work-related deductions, with a significant portion related to home office expenses. Taxpayers are reminded to maintain detailed records, like spreadsheets or calendars, to log hours worked from home and retain bills to substantiate additional incurred costs.

ATO Assistant Commissioner Rob Thomson emphasised the importance of accurate record-keeping, stating, “Keeping good records enables you to choose the most beneficial deduction method for your circumstances and ensures you’re rightfully claiming what you’re entitled to.”

Rental Property Deductions:

Thomson also pointed out that a high proportion of rental property owners mistakenly file their tax returns, particularly in distinguishing between immediate write-offs for repairs and capital works deductions, which must be depreciated over time. He advised landlords to pay close attention to maintenance claims and be wary of inflating expenses to counterbalance rental income increases for greater tax benefits.

Inclusion of All Income Sources:

Another significant issue is the premature lodging of tax returns, which leads to omitted income sources such as bank interest, dividends, and other government payments that might not yet be pre-filled by the ATO. Thomson recommends waiting until all information is available by the end of July to ensure accuracy and completeness of the tax return.

The ATO strongly discourages rushing the submission of tax returns right at the start of the fiscal year on July 1st. Early filers significantly increase their risk of errors, leading to potential audits and corrections by the tax office. Instead, taxpayers are advised to wait a few weeks until their income details have been pre-filled automatically, ensuring a smoother and more accurate process.

For those uncertain about their deductions or how to properly file their returns, consulting with a registered tax agent is recommended this Australian Tax Season. This approach not only provides peace of mind but also ensures compliance with tax laws and maximises legitimate tax benefits.

 

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new SCHOLARSHIPS for women TO build careers in construction

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new SCHOLARSHIPS for women TO build careers in construction

 

The Institute of Applied Technology – Construction (IATC) has announced three new microskills to its suite of courses as well as fee-free training places for women.

The Institute is a partnership between TAFE NSW, leading construction company CPB Contractors, and Western Sydney University.

Co-designed with industry experts, microskills are online, bite-sized, self-directed courses. These three new microskills focus on topics critical for building capability in the construction sector now and into the future and include: Introduction to Women in Construction, Introduction to Sustainability in Construction, and The Role of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in Construction.

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The IATC is also furthering its commitment to encourage more women to kickstart a career in construction or upskill in their current role with the availability of 60 fee-free training places in its microcredential courses. The scholarships come at a time when the construction industry in Australia is facing a shortage of over 100,000 workers.

Applications are now open for the Women in Construction Scholarships, delivered by the Institute of Applied Technology Construction.

CPB Contractors General Manager Infrastructure NSW and ACT, Rob Monaci said, “As the pipeline of infrastructure continues to grow, particularly with the focus on housing and new energy, the need for more skilled workers is an industry-wide issue. We need to be doing more to attract people at all stages of their careers to transition into fulfilling careers in construction, particularly women.”

The microcredentials take eight weeks to complete and provide industry-specific skills recognised as evidence of competence. The microcredentials can be completed online or face-to-face.

Women in Construction Scholarship courses are aimed at high-growth areas and include:

  • Project Management Foundations in Construction
  • Introduction to Project Scope Management in Construction
  • Project Risk Management in Construction
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Management in Construction
  • Quality Management in Construction
  • 2D CAD Drawings and 3D Models in Construction
  • Introduction to Building Information Modelling (BIM) in Construction
  • Microsoft Office Foundations in Construction; and
  • Power BI Fundamentals in Construction

Director Operations Institutes of Applied Technology Helen Fremlin encouraged women interested in a career in construction to take advantage of the free microcredentials and said they promote a practical learning journey.

“Whether you choose online or face-to-face, these microcredentials include regular educator-led sessions. These draw on industry specific examples, tasks, and case studies to give students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills directly with the support of educators.

“Part of the eligibility process requires women to complete two microskill courses. Microskills are free, two-hour, self-directed sessions, a great way to help get you started.”

CPB Contractors’ Rob Monaci added, “The introduction of these three new Microskills focused on women, sustainability and BIM are really exciting as not only are they critical to the future of our industry, but they are also compelling in attracting new entrants to the workforce who are passionate about the role diversity, sustainability and digital technology plays in building the game changing infrastructure projects set to roll out across our cities and regions,” said Mr Monaci.

Western Sydney University Interim Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Clare Pollock, said the suite of microskills and microcredential courses and scholarships will empower women in construction and will help to meet Australia’s workforce needs.

“The University has a proud history of opening up educational opportunities for students including talented women in our region. These innovative microskills and microcredentials will help students upskill and take advantage of skilled job opportunities in the fast-growing construction sector,” said Professor Pollock.

“Western Sydney University is pleased to partner with TAFE NSW and CPB Contractors to co-develop and co-deliver courses that integrate research-led learning with advanced technical and industry-based skills while boosting diversity in the sector.”

Successful applicants will be offered a pre-class connection session to meet other women and visit a construction site in Sydney.

TAFE NSW and Training Services NSW are also inviting young women in schools and parents across the state to register for a Girls in Trades virtual event on the 22nd of May. Participants will learn about different careers and study pathways for young women to consider in construction and non-traditional trades.



 

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