Assist Queensland businesses, including law firms
Queensland Law Society has called for a commitment to:
Not lower the entry threshold to the Federal workers’ compensation scheme, which reduces benefits for injured workers and would make premiums higher and more volatile for small business in the Queensland WorkCover scheme.
Work toward consistent regulation of credit products and unify e-disclosure across the National Credit Code, the Corporations Act and the E-payments Code.
Investigate codifying regulation of credit-repair agencies and introducing a structured framework for dispute resolution.
Identify leading areas of innovation in Queensland for focused incentives and promote the value of professional advice in facilitating innovation.
Review the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to achieve a balanced, clear and effective issues-focused environmental assessment and approvals framework.
Federal workers’ compensation scheme
Legislation introduced into Federal Parliament in 2014 proposed to dramatically lower the threshold for entry to the Commonwealth workers’ compensation scheme (Comcare). This risks a substantial number of big businesses exiting the Queensland workers’ compensation scheme, reducing funds to the common premium pool, potentially increasing costs for remaining employers and leading to poorer outcomes for injured employees.
To be eligible for coverage under Comcare, private industry employers must either be carrying on business in competition with a Commonwealth authority or with a corporation that was previously a Commonwealth authority. The Bill aimed to remove this competition test and lower the threshold to any corporation which met workers’ compensation obligations under the laws of two or more States or Territories.
The 2014 Bill ultimately stalled in the Senate, unable to gain the support of the cross-bench. Following an election, a majority Government may revive the initiative.
Unify e-disclosure across payments and credit
Currently the regulation of e-disclosure is not consistent across the National Credit Code, the Corporations Act and the E-payments Code for deposit and credit products. This leads to red-tape implications for business and increases complexity for solicitors advising their clients.
It is thought desirable that uniformity be achieved to support the online mortgage market and other financial products.
Regulation of credit repair agencies
Currently credit repair agencies operating in the market are largely unregulated except by the general law of misleading and deceptive conduct. Comparable industry sectors have federal dispute resolution schemes, standard forms of behaviour and codes of conduct as features of their regulatory response.
ASIC has raised key concerns in its January 2016 Report 465 Paying to get out of debt or clear your record. A dialogue about regulation needs to be commenced.
Promoting innovation and professional advice
An innovation economy is centred on the creation and commercialisation of new ideas as products or services. The process of incubating a great new idea into a profitable enterprise is not without significant challenge.
Good professional advice and especially legal advice on intellectual property protections, business structures, financing, production, sales and distribution is essential. A commitment to focusing incentives and promoting the value of professional advice to start-ups and the innovation community should form a key part of Federal innovation policy.
Review environmental assessments process
Our policy committees have advised that the experience of members navigating the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 process has demonstrated a need for holistic review. The system may be able to made more streamlined and efficient while also striking an appropriate equilibrium of competing stakeholder interests in developments and recognising broader social and community rights associated with environmental protection and biodiversity conservation.