THE Queensland Resources Council told a state parliamentary committee today that the state’s investment profile in resources would slip even further, unless the Queensland Government committed to keeping royalties at current levels for the next 10 years.

A global survey of mining companies and investors released earlier this year by the Fraser Institute showed investors were seriously worried about Queensland’s investment potential.

Mr Macfarlane said the onset of COVID-19 would have eroded global investor confidence even further since then.

“When the survey was released in February, Western Australia ranked number one in the world in terms of investment attractiveness, South Australia ranked six, and the Northern Territory came in at 13,” he said.

“Unfortunately Queensland was 15th, which is well behind our state counterparts and incredibly disappointing for such a resource-rich state.”

Mr Macfarlane told the Economics and Governance Committee that Queensland needed certainty at a time of uncertainty, and the industry already paid the highest royalty rates in the country.

“The resources industry is not wanting to reduce what we already pay in terms of royalties, we just need the State Government to keep coal, metals and gas royalties at their current levels for the next decade,” he said.

“We’re also asking for a more streamlined project assessment and approval process, to make sure projects progress in reasonable timeframes.”

The State Government has previously committed to a three-year freeze on coal and metals, and a five-year commitment on gas.

 www.qrc.org.au

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THE House of Representatives Committee on Tax and Revenue will be holding a second public hearing for its inquiry into the Commissioner of Taxation Annual Report 2018-19.

Chair of the Committee, Jason Falinski MP, said the Committee is interested to hear from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman about the ATO’s operations and improvements to processes and practices.

"In previous inquiries, the Committee has made a number of recommendations to the ATO, particularly regarding information technology systems and controls, taxpayers’ confidence in the ATO and dispute resolution. We look forward to hearing how previously identified issues have progressed and improved over the last two years," Mr Falinski said.

Further information about the inquiry is available on the Committee’s website.

Public hearing details

Date: Friday, 31 July 2020
Time: 8.30am to 12noon
Location: Committee Room 1R3, Parliament House, Canberra (via video/teleconference).

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

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AUSTRALIAN's class action regime, including the role of litigation funding, has been an effective and reliable means of delivering access to justice, but contingency fees create undesirable ethical risks, the Law Council of Australia has told a parliamentary inquiry today. 

The Law Council of Australia President, Pauline Wright, told the Inquiry into Litigation Funding and the Regulation of the Class Action Industry, that while Australian class actions were working well, there were opportunities to improve the system.

"Litigation funding can promote access to justice, spread the risk of complex litigation and improve the efficiency of litigation by introducing commercial considerations that will aim to reduce costs," Ms Wright said.

"We therefore support carefully calibrated regulation of litigation funding, in particular by authorising increased oversight by the courts.

"One particular option is to authorise the courts to make common fund orders, which can encourage competition in the class actions market.

“Experience showed that the competitive pressure introduced by the common fund order regime, had a positive downward impact on commissions charged and increased the transparency of litigation funding arrangements," Ms Wright said.

"The Law Council also opposes any additional regulation of Australian legal practitioners. Legal practitioners are already among the most regulated professionals in the country. In addition, class action litigation lawyers are subject to additional intensive court oversight of their conduct."

On the question of contingency fees Ms Wright said the Law Council had formed the view that the positives did not outweigh the negatives.

"On balance, it is the position of the Law Council that contingency fee arrangements should not be supported," Ms Wright said. 

"The Law Council is not persuaded that potential marginal gains in access to justice are outweighed by the risks to the ethical duties of lawyers and the potential effect that any compromise of these duties could have on the interests of class members.”

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A PARLIAMENTARY inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s defence, trade and international relations will turn its attention to the pandemic’s impact on Australia’s freight and shipping industries at its next public hearing.

Senator David Fawcett, chair of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, said that an effective and trusted maritime freight system is critical to Australia’s economy.

Senator Fawcett said, “Australia’s import and export supply chains, including our ports, have underpinned our economy to date and have kept many goods that we depend on moving during the pandemic. Our ongoing prosperity depends on an efficient and resilient shipping and logistics industry.”

Witnesses from the Freight and Trade Alliance, the Australian Peak Shippers Association, and Ports Australia will give evidence on the freight, shipping and logistics sector’s response to the pandemic.

Full terms of reference for the inquiry are on the Committee website.

Public hearing details

Date: Thursday 30 July
Time: 3pm – 4.30pm AEST 
Location: By teleconference

The hearings will be audio streamed live at aph.gov.au/live.

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THIS WEEK the House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs will hold two further public hearings for its inquiry into homelessness in Australia.

At hearings on Wednesday and Thursday, the Committee will hear from representatives of all three levels of government, including the Lord Mayors of Sydney and Melbourne, the Northern Territory Government, and Federal Government agencies including the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation.

Other witnesses will include the Community Housing Industry Association and academics from the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods who have been monitoring the level of housing stress being experienced by Australians during the COVID-19 period.

The Committee will also have the opportunity to hear from individuals with lived experience of homelessness, who will provide a valuable perspective for the inquiry.

Chair of the Committee, Andrew Wallace MP, said the Committee was keen to hear from witnesses about the unique challenges in addressing homelessness in different regions of Australia, and about how the community can better support people who may be particularly vulnerable, including older Australians and veterans.

"We know that the issue of homelessness presents in different ways across the country, from our largest capital cities to our most remote communities. These hearings are an opportunity for the Committee to hear about the different approaches to providing housing and homelessness services in these different communities," Mr Wallace said.

"The Committee will also hear about support services for groups of Australians that we know are particularly at risk of homelessness, including older Australians and veterans, and about the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 situation."

In order to ensure public safety during the COVID-19 situation, witnesses will participate in the hearing remotely, via teleconference. Interested members of the public are invited to listen to the live broadcast, available at aph.gov.au/live.

Further information, including hearing programs and submissions to the inquiry, is available on the Committee’s website.

Public hearing details

Date: Wednesday, 29 July 2020
Time: 8.45am to 4pm
Location: Via teleconference


Date: Thursday, 30 July 2020
Time: 8.45am to 4pm
Location: Via teleconference

 

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