The year is certainly flying by as we enter into Quarter Two!
Elevate has now settled into its new office on Flinders Lane and has welcomed a new team member Dani Bryan. Dani joined the team in February as our Administration Assistant, bringing previous experience in the fintech and banking industries. When Dani’s not working, she’s working! The mother of two runs her own business Run Like A Girl Australia, a run coaching business and local run club. She is an educator for Athletics Australia and presenter for big events such as Melbourne Marathon. Dani also loves to compete at marathon level, having completed NY and London amongst others. Elevate Run Club impending…
We hope everyone had an enjoyable (and relaxing!) Easter break.
Andrew, Roxie, Yee, Dani & Ash
Elevate would like to congratulate our Alliance client Diolog for winning The Pitch competition hosted by SmartCompany, Amazon Web Services (AWS), VentureCrowd, Startup Victoria and The Commons. CEO Amy Benson did a brilliant job pitching Diolog’s two-way retail investor communication software to the judges, and Andrew, Roxie and Ash were thrilled to be able to be there to watch in person.
Congratulations also to our Alliance client MGA Thermal for being backed by global energy giant Shell. Shell is supporting the company’s plans to develop a long-duration renewable energy storage system that can potentially transform coal-fired power plants into green energy hubs. Shell has awarded MGA a grant of USD$400,000 through its Shell GameChanger program for energy startups.
We would also like to congratulate another Alliance client Exergenics and its founders Tim and Iain Stewart for receiving a grant of $656,200 from the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Program to part fund the development of its chilled plant optimisation tool for owners and operators of large commercial buildings.
We continue to grow our Alliance subscription service, to provide ‘business as usual’ legal support for a fixed monthly fee. If you are looking for a better model for commercial legal support, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Privacy Act Report
The Australian Privacy Act came into force in 1988. While the law has been amended since then, other jurisdictions (most clearly the European Union) have moved well ahead of Australia in how they protect personal information.
In February 2023 the Attorney-General’s Department released its Privacy Act Review Report 2022 (Privacy Report) which is available here. The Privacy Report has taken two years to complete and delivers 116 specific recommendations around privacy and data. These recommendations would fundamentally change how data is dealt with in Australia and starts the process of Australian law closing the gap with other jurisdictions.
The 116 recommendations in the Privacy Report largely focus on:
- broadening and clarifying the type of information covered by the Australian privacy laws;
- enhancing privacy protections – focusing on protecting and empowering individuals; and
- strengthening the enforcement and compliance toolkit.
The report recommends new privacy rules including: (i) a ‘fair and reasonable’ test for the collection, use and disclosure of information; (ii) consent will only be valid if it is voluntary, informed, current, specific and unambiguous; (iii) right for an individual to have their personal information that is held by an entity erased; and (iv) a requirement for entities to determine and record the purposes that they will collect, use and disclose personal information at or before the time of collection.
Given reforms are likely to be enacted, it will be important for businesses to ensure that they understand their data and privacy obligations; and to build internal resources to give better visibility of how they collect, store, use, disclose, track, monitor and control personal information and other data. Businesses should also identify any gaps between what the business does and what it should do in relation to privacy and data.
Federal Government $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund
On 29 March 2023 the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation Bill passed the Senate which means that the Federal Government’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund will be established into law.
The National Reconstruction Fund has been designed to invest in renewables and low emissions technologies; medical science; transport; value-add in resources; defence capability; and enabling capabilities. The investment can be in the form of loans, equity and guarantees and the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation will have an independent board which will have the responsibility for choosing which projects receive funding.
$5 billion has been made available from the commencement of the fund and the remaining $10 billion will be made available in instalments by 2 July 2029.
Tougher laws for operators of critical infrastructure
The regulation of critical infrastructure in Australia is governed by the Security of Infrastructure Act 2018 (SOCI Act). The SOCI Act provides the framework for the management of risks relating to critical infrastructure and reforms to this framework took place in 2021 and 2022.
The reforms in December 2021: expanded the coverage of the critical infrastructure assets framework from four sectors to eleven sectors; expanded the coverage of critical infrastructure framework to 22 asset classes; established a scheme for entities responsible for critical infrastructure assets to report critical and other cybersecurity incidents to the Australian Cyber Security Centre; and established measures to allow the Government to provide assistance in relation to ensuring the continued provision of essential services.
More reforms in April 2022 require specified critical infrastructure assets to comply with an additional positive security obligation, to adopt and maintain a critical infrastructure risk management plan. On 17 February 2023, the Security of Critical Infrastructure (Critical infrastructure risk management program) Rules (LIN 23/006) 2023 commenced which “switched on” this positive security obligation.
The obligations for responsible entities to adopt a written critical infrastructure risk management plan under these rules are subject to: a six-month grace period which ends on 17 August 2023; and an additional 12-month grace period which ends on 17 February 2024, to help responsible entities become compliant with the cybersecurity framework identified in their written critical infrastructure risk management plan.
More information about the SOCI Act and reforms is available here.
While these laws may not directly impact you (not many of our clients operate airports, water plants or the power grid!) – they may impact your own customers, who may then try to flow down some of the requirements and risk to you (and their other suppliers).
Reforms to close gender pay gap in Australia
On 30 March 2023 the Federal Government passed the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 (Bill). The Bill aims to enhance transparency and facilitate action towards closing the gender pay gap in Australia.
The Bill amends the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Cth), including the following changes:
- Employers with more than 100 employees must have their gender pay gap information publicly reported on the Workplace Gender Equality Agency website.
- From April 2024, the existing gender equality indicators will be amended to include matters relating to sexual harassment or discrimination.
- From April 2024, employers must give additional workforce data to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency on employee age, primary workplace location, and CEO remuneration.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency will publish the first set of private sector employer gender pay gap information in early 2024, with the Commonwealth public sector gender pay gap information to follow from late 2024 to early 2025.
Employers with 100 or more employees will need to ensure they are ready for these upcoming changes including having adequate systems in place to accurately report to the Agency; understanding the proposed reporting requirements (to avoid being named as a non-compliant employer); taking action to minimise the gender pay gap that may exist in their organisation and promoting equity, diversity and inclusion. More information at https://www.wgea.gov.au/.
Key personnel salary / remuneration packages for charities
The ACNC has put in place new remuneration reporting rules to help ensure transparency and accountability of charities. Whether a charity needs to report key management personnel remuneration depends on the size of the charity.
Not required to submit an annual financial report and are exempt from reporting key management personnel remuneration.
If the charity prepares General Purpose Financial Statements, it must report key management personnel remuneration. If the charity prepares Special Purpose Financial Statements, the reporting of key management personnel remuneration is optional.
Must report key management personnel remuneration (unless an exemption applies).
Charities need to ensure that all remuneration is reported (where required) and this can include both financial items (wages, salaries, bonuses etc.) and non-financial items including the provision of free or subsidised goods and services (e.g. the use of a car).
New regime for related-party transactions
From 1 January 2023, all charities will be required to include details of related-party transactions in their Annual Information Statement (AIS) lodged with the ACNC.
- submit an AIS at the end of the financial year, will need to include any related party transaction occurring between 1 January and 30 June 2023; and
- submit an AIS at the end of the calendar year, will need to include any related party transaction occurring between 1 January and 31 December 2023.
A selection of things taking up time outside work:
- Sally Hepworth – I have read two books recently by Australian author Sally Hepworth and can understand why she is a New York Times bestselling author! The Soulmate and The Good Sister were both engaging, easy to read novels that I couldn’t put down. I look forward to reading her other novels as soon as possible (Roxie)
- Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, by Patrick Radden Keefe – I’m a sucker for New Journalism style nonfiction business reporting, and this 2021 book is a cracker. It’s the story of the Sackler family, their role in developing and aggressively marketing new opioid drugs in the US (especially OxyContin) and their rise and fall. Fascinating insight into the world of pharma, and a slightly depressing parable about business ethics. (Andrew)
- Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain – this is a 2012 novel about a group of US soldiers fighting in the Iraq War who, after a battle televised on Fox News, are hailed as heroes and sent on a US victory tour. The novel is largely set during a single day culminating in a Dallas Cowboys game. It’s tenderly written with sharp satirical prickles beneath. (I also loved Beautiful Country Burn Again by the same author.) (Andrew)
- The Power Law: Venture Capital and the Art of Disruption, by Sebastian Mallaby. A good history of the venture capital industry and useful insight into how VC investors operate, despite being (understandably) US-centric (with a couple of chapters on China) and at times overly hagiographic (survivorship bias at play). (Andrew)
- Hipcamp – We recently booked our camping adventure in Mirrindini, Victoria through the Hipcamp website. Hipcamp is an online marketplace that offers a wide range of outdoor stays and camping experiences. The platform features listings primarily from private landowners offering campsites, glamp-sites, caravan spaces, and cabins. You have the option to search for listings based on location, landscape, and amenities, making it easy to find the perfect outdoor getaway. hipcamp.com.au (Yee)
- The Storyteller by Dave Grohl. Yes, the Dave you might know from Nirvana and lead singer of Foo Fighters, shares his time with those iconic bands and chronologically reflects on his experiences and love of music that made a colossal impact on his own life.(Dani)
- Sounds Like A Cult Podcast by Amanda Montell and Isabela Medina-Maté. A podcast about the modern day “cults” we all have some knowledge about. From Corporate America, Elon Musk and Peleton fans, to the Royal family, Instagram, and Wall Street. There’s something for everyone as the hosts dig into different zeitgeisty topics each week, determining if they are committed followers or concerning cults. https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/sounds-like-a-cult/id1566917047 (Dani)