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One tax treaty to rule them all

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AT A PUBLIC hearing on Monday, the Joint Committee on Treaties will discuss a new treaty that will target international tax evasion.

The Multilateral Tax Treaty will complement existing treaties to establish a consistent global framework to prevent tax evasion by shifting profits to low tax countries.

Committee Chair, Mr Stuart Robert MP, said that this was the first truly international treaty to tackle international tax evasion.

“Using a set of principles developed by the OECD, this treaty will attempt to tie together a range of different agreements between countries so that international tax evaders have nowhere to hide,” the Chair said.

The treaty will also have benefits for businesses operating internationally by ensuring that they are not subject to double taxation.

Mr Robert said, “Australia alone has 43 bilateral tax evasion treaties.  This move towards a single international framework with consistent principles may be a great advance in the fight against international tax evasion.”

Public hearing details: 11:45 am to 12:30 pm, Monday, 11 September, Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

11:45am: Treasury and the Australian Tax Office
12:30pm: Close

The hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

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Cautious growth for retail trade this July

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THE Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the July trade figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) proved generally positive, with year-on-year growth remaining steady, and month-to-month growth contracting.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the July retail trade figures continued to show stable growth, and were a positive sign leading into the warmer months.

“Year-on-year growth remains strong for the retail industry with household goods, especially hardware, driving the figures,” Mr Zimmerman said.

The Household Goods category again saw a strong year-on-year increase with an overall 4.62% growth, while Department Stores recorded year-on-year growth for the first time this year with a 1.28% rise.

“It is encouraging to see the Hardware sector continuing to show robust growth year-on-year, with a 5.02% increase” Mr Zimmerman said.

“With the end of deep discounting events after the closure of Masters, the continued growth in the hardware sector as sales begin to normalise is a good sign for the retail industry as a whole.”

Mr Zimmerman said the return to growth in Department Stores was largely attributed to the early offering of spring fashions at the tail end of winter.

“New season fashions have brought customers back into the Department Stores, and the increase in sales bodes well as we move into summer.”

Clothing, Footwear and Personal Accessories continue to face tough conditions, with a modest 1.28% year-on-year increase.

Food retailing continued to remain strong, recording a 3.88% increase year-on-year, largely driven by continued strength in the supermarket sector with a 3.90% increase and a 1.51% increase in specialised food.

All states recorded growth year-on year, a positive sign for the months ahead. Victoria (5.63%) and New South Wales (4.18%) lead the pack with strong year-on-year growth. The Australian Capital Territory (3.95%), Tasmania (3.53%), and South Australia (2.99%) recorded a moderate increase year-on-year.  The Northern Territory (2.96%), Queensland (2.44%) and Western Australia (1.37%) showed gradual increases.

“It is great to see Victoria showing a significant increase in sales year-on-year, and Western Australia beginning to turn around with a change in government bringing some positivity to the west,” Mr Zimmerman said.

MONTHLY RETAIL GROWTH (June 2017– July 2017 seasonally adjusted) 

Department stores (2.35%), Other retailing (1.33%), Food retailing (0.11%), Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.56%), Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-1.10%) and Household goods retailing (-1.26%).

Victoria (1.14%), Western Australia (0.51%), Queensland (-0.23%), New South Wales (-0.47%), Northern Territory (-0.56%), Australian Capital Territory (-1.37%), Tasmania (-1.59%) and South Australia (-1.70%).

Total sales (-0.03%). 

 

YEAR-ON-YEAR RETAIL GROWTH (July 2016 – July 2017 seasonally adjusted)

Household goods retailing (4.62%), Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (4.48%), Other retailing (4.24%), Food retailing (3.88%), Department stores (1.28%) and Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (1.15%). 

Victoria (5.63%), New South Wales (4.18%), Australian Capital Territory (3.95%), Tasmania (3.53%), South Australia (2.99%), Northern Territory (2.96%), Queensland (2.44%) and Western Australia (1.37%).

Total sales (3.77%).

About the Australian Retailers Association:

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the retail industry’s peak representative body representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. The ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 

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Committee supports Macau relations and ozone protection

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THE Joint Committee on Treaties has supported amendments to Australia’s consular arrangements with China and the Macau Special Administrative Region, and to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer in Report 173, tabled in the Parliament yesterday.

The amendments to Australia’s consular relations with Macau will provide procedural clarity for dealing with consular cases in the Special Administrative Region. The amendments will bring the consular arrangements with Macau under the auspices of the China Agreement. The decision to amend the agreements came after procedural issues arose in a number of arrest notifications between Macau and Australia in 2014.

Committee chair, Mr Stuart Robert MP noted Australia’s commercial and people-to-people links with the Macau Region. “We have a strong commercial presence in Macau and around one thousand Australian nationals live in the region.” Mr Robert said.

The Committee has also supported the amendments to the Montreal Protocol on substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The amendments will provide for the global phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are commonly found in refrigerant and air conditioning technologies. HFCs are of high global warming potential.

Mr Robert highlighted Australia’s commitment to the phase-down. “Australia has already implemented domestic legislation that will see us begin the phase-down in 2018, a year earlier than required by the Protocol.”

The amendments will see HFC’s phase-down between 2019 and 2036 and leave 15 per cent of the base line available for hard to transition technologies.

“This measure is supported by the relevant industries, as the transition time will allow for new technologies to become commercialised, or for alternatives to be developed,” Mr Robert said.

The report also contains the Committee’s review of two minor treaty actions relating to the OECD G20 Conventions addressing tax evasion by individuals and large multinationals.

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Examining the Commonwealth financial statements

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THE Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit has tabled its report on the Commonwealth Financial Statements, based on Audit Report No. 33 (2016-17), Audits of the Financial Statements of Australian Government Entities for the Period Ended 30 June 2016.

Committee Chair Senator Dean Smith said that the Auditor-General’s financial statement audits play a critical role in ensuring accountability to the Parliament and the Australian public for the expenditure of public funds.

“The audits provide independent assurance that this information is accurate and that the financial management of Commonwealth entities is effective,” Senator Smith said.

“The Committee has made a number of recommendations in its report to further improve the effectiveness and transparency of financial reporting by Commonwealth entities. In doing so, the Committee commends the Australian National Audit Office for its work each year in auditing the Consolidated Financial Statements and entity financial statements.”

The Committee’s report makes six recommendations, including that:

  • a number of agencies should report back to the Committee on their progress in responding to any significant or moderate findings in next year’s financial statement audits;
  • the Northern Land Council should report back on its progress in responding to two significant legislative breaches and any such breaches reported next financial year; and
  • the Department of Finance should: reinstate, as a formal reporting requirement, disclosure of senior executive remuneration by all Commonwealth entities, consistent with previous practice; report back on options to further strengthen remuneration disclosure requirements; and develop benchmarks to enable entities to assess their own financial sustainability against agreed parameters over time.

Interested members of the public may wish to track the Committee via the website

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Department to appear at water use efficiency hearing

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THE House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee will hold a public hearing in Canberra on Thursday, 7 September for its inquiry into water use efficiency in Australian agriculture.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will give evidence to the inquiry for a second time.

Committee Chair, Mr Rick Wilson MP, discussed the hearing:

“The Committee has collected some interesting and compelling evidence over the last few months. As we approach the end of the evidence gathering phase of the inquiry, we now provide the department with an opportunity to address some of the issues and concerns raised in submissions and discussed by witnesses at public hearings”.

 

Public hearing details: 12.15 pm to 1.30 pm, Thursday 7 September,  Committee Room 1R2, Parliament House, Canberra

The hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live

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