MANY EXPATS are likely to face “unexpected tax complications” because of the lockdown restrictions, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and services organisations.

The warning from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, which operates in 100 countries globally, comes as many nations around the world are beginning to ease the measures put in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Green said, “Many expats, and others who live outside their countries of origin, have found themselves stuck in other countries where they don’t normally reside due to the widespread lockdown measures, the closure of national borders, and almost no commercial flights.

“And despite the easing of some restrictions in some places, the current situation might not change for a while yet, especially due to the situation in the aviation and wider travel sector.

“People stranded in different jurisdictions could find that their residency status changes," Mr Green said. "Being stuck somewhere you hadn’t planned to be for an extended period of time could mean that you inadvertently become a tax resident there.  

“This could impact your tax planning strategies which, in turn, could affect other personal finance matters including retirement planning, estate planning and trusts. 

“The potential for unexpected tax complications is high, especially as each jurisdiction has its own individual regimes and regulations when it comes to cross-border tax planning.  Also because it is widely predicted that taxes are expected to rise.

“Those who feel they might be affected should seek expert cross-border financial advice sooner rather than later to mitigate any nasty surprises.”

Despite some reports to the contrary, the deVere Group CEO affirms that it is not just the very wealthy who could be hit by the impact of lockdowns on tax positions.

“There’s potential for a significant number of those who live and work or retire outside their country of origin.

“Typically there will be a series of legitimate solutions to reduce being hit with tax complications.  But to avoid burdensome, complex and costly issues arising, the sooner those who could be impacted seek advice, the better.”

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THE COMMERCIALl construction sector is facing a devastating downturn due to the impact of COVID-19 unless governments act to provide stimulus.

Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia said, “Commercial construction activity is forecast to severely decline. Compared to our previous forecasts Master Builders now expects commercial building activity to be 15.7 per cent lower in 2020/21 and 11.5 per cent lower in 2021/22.

“The lockdown has obliterated private sector demand in the economy and a gradual easing of restrictions is not going to replace that demand, so governments need to act.

“The impact on the commercial construction sector (as well as residential construction) is severe because the majority of projects are not publicly funded,” Ms Wawn said.

“There are 459 projects in Master Builders’ reports on the current pipeline of potential commercial building projects in Australia. Most of these projects, 314 (68 percent) are private sector funded projects, 108 (23 percent) are public sector projects and 37 (8 percent) are public private partnerships; 43 percent of all projects cost more than $50 million, 24 percent are under $50 million and the cost of 33 percent of the projects is unknown,” she said.

“Master Builders is calling on National Cabinet to urgently develop a COVID-19 Action plan for the building and construction industry including measures to address the looming devastation to the forward pipeline in commercial construction.

“Logical areas where government stimulus can help build the bridge to recoveryare are where the public sector dominates, such as in education, health and defence.

“Bringing forward maintenance on government buildings is a stimulus measure Master Builders has been calling for and we commend the Department of Defence which has just announced $870 million in estate works which will bolster the confidence of construction contractors and subcontractors,” Ms Wawn said.

Other measures that Master Builders is calling for include:

  • An expansion of government construction of education, health and aged care facilities.
  • Extending the government guarantee for working capital loans to projects above $50 million could reduce the impact of financial risk from COVID-19 thereby softening the impact on commercial activity.
  • Governments taking the lead in funding cladding rectification and asbestos remediation. Buildings requiring rectification were identified in the state and territory cladding audits and projects on government asbestos remediation lists could be fast tracked with government stimulus to prop up commercial activity and provide employment opportunities

www.masterbuilders.com.au

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THE CARAVAN and camping sector can lead the road to recovery for regional tourism with an average spend of $584 per trip according to Tourism Research Australia, and over 500,000 travellers indicating they’d take a camping trip within two months. 

This has the potential to kick-start the recovery for tourism and inject over $292 million dollars directly into the hands of regional tourism operators who rely on caravanners and campers travelling to experience a wide variety of attractions.  

The intention to go caravan and camping is significantly higher than general travel intention, with only 12 percent of the broader Australian population planning to book a holiday in the next three months, indicating that caravan and camping travellers are seven times more likely to take a holiday in the next three months than the rest of Australians.  

With restrictions beginning to ease in parts of the country, this is great news for the many regional communities who rely on this market to support local jobs. With over 711,000 registered RV’s and thousands of free-standing roofed accommodation options, it presents a massive opportunity for towns all around Australia.  

Most caravan and holiday parks have implemented COVID-19 safe guidelines already, catering for permanent residents, essential workers and stranded caravanners. 

This includes contact tracing, social distancing and increased hygiene regimes in common areas and amenities.  Unlike other accommodation they also don’t have shared lifts and lobbies or shared air-conditioning facilities.  

This economic opportunity is reflective of the pent-up demand of those that own caravan and camping product which has been sitting idle for months.

www.caravanindustry.com.au

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THE CARAVAN and camping sector can lead the road to recovery for regional tourism with an average spend of $584 per trip according to Tourism Research Australia, and over 500,000 travellers indicating they’d take a camping trip within two months. 

This has the potential to kick-start the recovery for tourism and inject over $292 million dollars directly into the hands of regional tourism operators who rely on caravanners and campers travelling to experience a wide variety of attractions.  

The intention to go caravan and camping is significantly higher than general travel intention, with only 12 percent of the broader Australian population planning to book a holiday in the next three months, indicating that caravan and camping travellers are seven times more likely to take a holiday in the next three months than the rest of Australians.  

With restrictions beginning to ease in parts of the country, this is great news for the many regional communities who rely on this market to support local jobs. With over 711,000 registered RV’s and thousands of free-standing roofed accommodation options, it presents a massive opportunity for towns all around Australia.  

Most caravan and holiday parks have implemented COVID-19 safe guidelines already, catering for permanent residents, essential workers and stranded caravanners. 

This includes contact tracing, social distancing and increased hygiene regimes in common areas and amenities.  Unlike other accommodation they also don’t have shared lifts and lobbies or shared air-conditioning facilities.  

This economic opportunity is reflective of the pent-up demand of those that own caravan and camping product which has been sitting idle for months.

www.caravanindustry.com.au

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AS PART of its inquiry into the education of students in remote and complex environments, the House Education Committee wants to know more about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on home learning and teaching.

The inquiry was initially launched in December, and has received submissions from a wide range of stakeholders and experts. The Committee has outlined areas of interest, but in recent months suspended its program of hearings because of the pandemic.

"As Australian students and teachers move to the next phase, we are again inviting views – we are sure that lessons being learned help improve our understanding of a student’s education journey in remote and complex environments," said Andrew Laming MP, Chair of the Committee.

"The Committee has been examining how education meets the learning needs of students and how barriers in the education journey are overcome. The response of Australian schools to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need for rapid adaptation to home and online learning, has clearly accelerated the importance of flexible and well-supported responses," Mr Laming said.

"We want to expand our range of evidence into specific lessons and consequences of rapid and flexible home and online learning and teaching. The Committee hopes to learn more about how these new flexible approaches might continue to be applied in remote and complex environment long after schools return to ‘normal’ face-to-face teaching," Mr Laming said.

"We also hope that some of the excellent stakeholders we’ve heard from so far might give us the benefit of their recent, COVID-19 experience so that we can take this inquiry forward."

Beyond hearing more about adaptations and solutions to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee’s areas of interest include 

  • small remote schools; particularly in challenging areas like the tri-state area of central Australia;
  • career counselling of remote students and means of connecting them to further education or local employment;
  • challenges faced by regional schooling providers and initiatives in place;
  • how families of vulnerable young children can access, enrol and remain in early learning, and the collaboration between early and primary education; 
  • the performance and monitoring of those in home schooling to maintain national minimum standards; and
  • access and support to deliver the Australian Curriculum (including STEM) in a flexible way, to meet local learning needs and interests of remote students, including examples of innovative ways in which the curriculum is being delivered in remote schools.

ENDS

INDUSTRY SuperFunds will invest tens of billions of dollars in Australia’s economic recovery with the aim to create or support many thousands of jobs in the years ahead.

Not only has the superannuation sector paid out about $10 billion to members who need to access their super now, they plan to invest tens of billions more in Australian business, equities, property and infrastructure, investments that support the economy and drive growth and job creation.

Industry Super Australia chair Greg Combet said, “Our funds have been helping members through the tough times and we stand ready to help get them safely back to work and the economy growing again.

“We’ve got significant funds available and plans to provide capital to solid Australian businesses and bring forward large investments in major projects and essential infrastructure that will create new jobs and sustain many more," he said.

 “We’re determined to play a key role in helping Australia’s economic rebuild, because that gets some members working again and delivers long-term returns for all.”  

Collectively Industry SuperFunds own $80 billion in Australian infrastructure, property, and other assets. One year’s capital expenditure on infrastructure created or supported 46,000 jobs.

Industry Funds have more than $28 billion earmarked to expand their infrastructure and property holdings and to invest in Australian business, driving further jobs growth. This money will fund solar farms at Darwin airport, other airport terminal expansions, rail upgrades, build shopping centres and commercial and residential developments.

With the confidence of stable superannuation policy settings and partnerships with state and federal governments these infrastructure commitments could be just the start.  

Not only do these infrastructure holdings generate jobs – but means that workers, through their super funds, get the profits from the roads, buildings, airports and seaports they built and use daily.

Since the Covid-19 downturn Industry SuperFunds have poured hundreds of millions into the balance sheets of good Australian business, this helps them to rebuild and to expand operations.

Funds have participated in the capital raising for NAB, Reece Plumbing and Ramsay Healthcare.

And there could be billions more to come, at the end of the Global Financial Crisis the superannuation funds provided a significant portion of the $120 billion in capital raised by local businesses.

Industry SuperFunds remain committed to supporting technology start-ups, SME businesses, social housing and aged care, as well as providing finance to the major banks.  

Industry super funds hold a major stake in Australia’s economic life through investments in Australian listed companies – collective owning 10 per cent of the ASX - debt markets, infrastructure, property and the wider financial system.

The super system needs a strong Australian economy to deliver for members, and the economy needs a strong super system to support its recovery. 

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AMAL CLOONEY and Queen's Counsel Geoffrey Robertson OAM will be among the experts to appear before an inquiry tomorrow on whether to impose sanctions upon individuals who commit human rights abuses.

The hearing is part of the Magnitsky Act inquiry is being conducted by the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

Other expert witnesses will include Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury representing the High-Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, Professor Irwin Cotler and Bill Browder, widely credited with instigating Magnitsky legislation.

The public hearing on Friday, May 15, will take place in Committee Room 2R1, with witnesses via videoconference, and proceedings will be broadcast via www.aph.gov.au/live

Program: Friday May 15, 2020

Morning session

 

8:30am

Vladimir Kara-Murza

9:20am

Ms Amal Clooney

10:30am 10-minute break

 

10:40am

Professor Irwin Cotler

11:40am

Close

Afternoon session

 

4:30pm

Lord Neuberger

5:30pm

Mr Bill Browder

6:30pm

Geoffrey Robertson, OAM

7:30pm

Close

MILLIONS of Australians are struggling to pay their mortgage and rent, new research by Finder, Australia’s most visited comparison site reveals. 

A recent Finder survey of 1,023 respondents found that 15 percent – equivalent to 2.9 million Australians – are asking for a rent reduction or pause in their mortgage repayments. 

This includes 1.2 million homeowners who have already contacted or plan on contacting their lender regarding a pause in their mortgage repayments.

A further 1.7 million Aussies intend on negotiating cheaper rent with their landlord.

Kate Browne, personal finance expert at Finder, is concerned by the number of Australians only just scraping by. 

“Almost everyone has felt the financial fallout in some way but there are options to help you get back on your feet," Ms Browne said.

“Whether you own your own home or are renting, it’s time to re-evaluate your expenses and see where you can cut down.

“If you have a home loan, a pause in your mortgage payments should be your last resort.” 

While you may be able to hit pause on your mortgage you will have to repay the money later plus more in interest. A mortgage holiday could leave you paying thousands more in interest and possibly extend the length of your loan.

Finder research found that if you were 10 years in on a $500,000 loan with an average variable rate of 3.90 percent, pausing repayments for six months would cost you an extra $11,127 over the remaining 20 years of the loan.

On a $400,000 loan size with an average variable rate of 3.90 percent, you’d pay an extra $8,902 over the remaining 20 years. 

“We would recommend looking into getting a better rate on your home loan first if you are struggling to make your repayments. While a mortgage deferral or holiday sounds appealing in the short term, you need to seriously consider whether you’ll be able to afford this ‘holiday’ in the long run," Ms Browne said.
 
“Refinancing your mortgage could save you enough to avoid having to pause your payments. COVID-19 has hit the economy hard but the silver lining is that home loan interest rates have never been lower.

“If your interest rate doesn’t have a '2' in front of it you need to start shopping around. There are hundreds of dollars to be saved simply by switching.”

Unsurprisingly, younger Australians are feeling the heat the most with one in four (26%) looking for ways to cut housing costs. 

In comparison, only 10 percent of Gen X, and 1 percent of Baby Boomers are looking to their lender or landlord for help.

"During a time of economic uncertainty, Australians should look for ways to cut down their expenses and make sure that they’re getting the best deal on everything from their groceries, to their home loan interest rate," Ms Browne said.

Mpre information on Finder’s coronavirus mortgage support page.

FINDER ADVICE

How to keep on top of your mortgage 
 Refinance with your lender or switch for a better deal. The cash rate has fallen to 0.25% meaning interest rates are at an all time low. Now is the time to check whether there’s a better deal out there.
 Cut down unnecessary spend. It’s the small steps that really add up. Finder has put together a list of 31 ways to save money in your everyday life.
 Put your commuting savings to work. The average Aussie working from home is saving more than $100 a month in commuting costs alone, from public transport and taxis, to tolls, petrol and parking if you are driving. Take advantage of this saving and put it toward your home loan.
 Ask for help. If you are in financial stress and you don’t know where else to turn, consider reaching out to a financial counselor for help.

A PARLIAMENT-first inquiry into 5G mobile technology in Australia tabled its report in the House yesterday.

House of Representatives Communications and the Arts Committee Chair Dr David Gillespie said the inquiry saw the need for 5G to connect Australia and allow for a wave of innovation and opportunities not seen before.

“The Committee heard that Australia has the opportunity to be a 5G world leader," Dr Gillespie saide. "A number of organisations told us that 5G is essential if we are to be a global competitor in food and wine production, entertainment, automated vehicles and IT, among other sectors.

“We also heard that there is a high level of concern among some members of the community who are worried that 5G is a risk to human health," he said.

"The Committee received assurances from Australian Government agencies and researchers that 5G is a safe technology, and the safety standards in place are more than able to make sure that health is not affected when 5G is deployed”.

The Committee has made 14 recommendations, including:

  • The speedy allocation of spectrum needed for 5G;
  • Reviews of the low impact facilities framework for the 5G environment, and carrier powers and immunities, particularly the timeframes for raising objections;
  • Better management of ageing and redundant mobile network infrastructure and equipment;
  • A focus on road and transport safety standards, with carriers working alongside state and territory road and transport authorities;
  • The installation of multiuser infrastructure, and conducting of 5G trials, in rural and regional areas;
  • The Australian Government encourage manufacturing of 5G infrastructure in Australia, with potential partnerships with the United Kingdom, United States of America, New Zealand and Canada;
  • The establishment of a 5G R&D Innovation Fund;
  • A focus on Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management, including a review of the current legislative arrangements for network and data security for the supply of 5G equipment;
  • Better consultation between Australian Government agencies and members of the community concerned about the deployment of 5G;
  • A focus on ensuring that the ICT workforce is appropriately skilled, by lifting apprenticeships and working with curriculum-setters;
  • Campaigns to increase local government and enterprise awareness of 5G.

Information about the inquiry may be found on the Committee’s webpage.

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THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell has welcomed legislation introduced to the Parliament today, requiring big businesses to be transparent about their payment times.

The Federal Government will today table the Payment Times Reporting Bill 2020 that will require businesses with turnover of more than $100 million to publish information about their payment policies.

“Much of the Australian small business community has been devastated by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis and prompt payment times are critical to their survival,” Ms Carnell said.

“This reporting framework will require big businesses to be up front and honest about the time it takes to pay their small business suppliers. It will be important that the information reported is easy to access and integrate.

“This gives small businesses some choice around who they do business with.

“Importantly, the legislation introduced today will apply to around 3,000 Australian large businesses, including foreign companies that carry an enterprise in Australia along with certain government enterprises.

“It also defines the small business as those that have a turnover of less than $10 million, which covers 99 percent of businesses.

“My office will be invoking the powers we have to investigate any reports of big businesses failing to live up to the information provided on this register once it is implemented.

“We support the Payment Times Reporting Framework as one piece of the puzzle, but it won’t solve the problem of late payment times on its own.

“Legislation requiring SMEs to be paid in 30 days is the only way to drive meaningful cultural change in business payment performance across the economy.

“Ultimately, cash flow is king for small business and we know that if small businesses are paid on time, the whole economy benefits.”

www.asbfeo.gov.au

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THE IMPACT of COVID-19 on lives and livelihoods has been severe around the globe, including Australia. While Australian, State and Territory governments continue to lead the nation into a containment and recovery phase, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade (JSCFADT) has voted to adopt Terms of Reference for an inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade policies.

Senator David Fawcett, Chair of the JSCFADT, emphasised the strategic shock that COVID-19 has delivered to long-held assumptions that have underpinned some of Australia’s policy frameworks in recent decades. Learning from the impacts of COVID-19, and understanding future risks and opportunities, will play a key role in considered decision-making as Australia charts a path into a changed world.

“Although the effects of the pandemic are still unfolding, Governments will be making decisions that are going to underpin Australia’s future international position” Senator Fawcett said. “The Committee’s inquiry will bring together a range of expert stakeholders to help inform and test the basis of those decisions”.

One of the core questions for the inquiry is how to balance the risks and opportunities presented by global connectivity in trade and security partnerships within the international rules-based order.

“The pandemic has reinforced the fact that the efficient and effective functioning of critical domestic systems such as health and transport are currently linked to – and reliant on – the integrity of supply chains which we do not control and may be subject to disruption” Senator Fawcett said. “Now is the time to analyse how Australia can take a systemic, risk based approach to ensuring supply chain integrity, even in the event of market failure due to unforeseen external factors such as pandemic, conflict or natural disaster."

The inquiry will consider policy and practical measures that could form an ongoing effective national framework to ensure the resilience required to underpin Australia’s economic and strategic objectives.

Full terms of reference for the inquiry are on the committee website. Submissions can be made until June 30, 2020.

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