Legal requirements: doing business in Australia
Education Module 21 February 2018
The goal of this module is to remind you that there is a collection of legal requirements with which you must comply in order to do business in Australia.
It would, however, not be possible for FIAAA to deeply cover all your obligations.
- Laws, with associated Acts, Regulations, Codes and Rules are constantly being updated – we don’t have the resources to monitor all changes.
- Your businesses are located across the country – States and Territory adoption of Commonwealth legislation is not uniform.
- The nature of each of your businesses is different, with somewhat different legal requirements.
You must individually be satisfied of the legalities of your business operations. However, this module will give introductory guidance in meeting your business stewardship goals and legal obligations.
Where to find information
There are a number of sites with helpful information on understanding Australian business regulation.
Austrade has information and links across many areas, including:
- Intellectual property
- Export and import
- Financial reporting
- Taxation, and
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is a good source of information for small business. It manages the Australian Consumer Law, which deals with matters including standards of business conduct, unfair contracts and harmful business practices.
Some specific areas relevant to FIAAA businesses
There is a mire of regulation relevant to your business. Some specifically to note:
Agriculture and the ACCC
The ACCC has established an Agriculture Unit. There are three main objectives:
- Identify key agricultural supply chain issues across the agricultural sector for enforcement focus.
- Increase awareness about codes of conduct and collective bargaining.
- Conduct market studies to enhance ACCC understanding of the competitiveness of agricultural supply chains and impacts on farm gate outcomes.
The ACCC also acts in areas relevant to FIAAA members, including:
It is important to understand your rights and obligations when dealing with other businesses. Certain business practices that limit or prevent competition are against the law.
The ACCC has released a new online tool to enable anonymous reporting of concerns of potential misconduct related to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Link here.
Bribery and secret commissions
Crimes Acts across the country were strengthened some twenty years ago to include reference to secret commissions.
Crimes relevant to our industry may include getting ‘kick backs’ when acting as an agent, corrupt commissions given to employees, and use of misleading documents.
Refer also to the NSW Crimes Act extract of the Crimes (Secret Commissions) Amendment Act 1987 No.116 of NSW, attached here, kindly provided by Barringtons Lawyers and Consultant to RCI and shared with FIAAA members in December 2017.
The law across the country
Criminal law is an example of the complexity of Australian law. States and Territories adopt Commonwealth model law differently. For example, in many States, paying secret commissions for advice given to others about their business dealings is an offence. In all States and Territories there is legislation criminalising bribery. Each piece of legislation is different and should be particularly considered.
In addition to government sources of information, some of the major law firms provide advice on their websites. For example, Clayton Utz has a useful site on doing business in Australia.
In this document it is pointed out that there is no single government anti-corruption policy across Australia. Each jurisdiction has different laws (statute and common law) to deal with bribery and corruption.
It also goes on to discuss that, as an example of complexity, bribery and corruption offences are divided between the AFP, ASIC and the State and Territory police forces.
There are far reaching consequences for criminal behaviour, apart from the disappointment of a business not upholding high standards of behaviour and stewardship.
- For employees receiving a bribe most likely contravene the Corporations Act and face fines of up to $200,000 in addition to other punishment.
- Under the Criminal Code, corporations can be held responsible for the conduct of an agent, particularly if there is a culture which directs, encourages, tolerates, or leads to breaches of the legislation, or where the company fails to create or maintain a corporate culture that requires compliance with the legislation.
Reporting a crime
Reporting a crime may not just be the right thing to do, in some instances it is a legal obligation. Again the requirements vary across the country but in NSW for example, according to the Crimes Act, ‘concealing a serious indictable offence’ is a crime.
Data breach reporting
The Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme of the Privacy Act comes into force on 22 February 2018. Small business with an annual turnover of more than $3 million must report eligible data breaches.
A data breach occurs when personal information held by a small business is lost or subject to unauthorised access or disclosure. This may include if a device containing customers’ personal information is lost, hacking of a database containing personal information, or mistakenly providing personal information to the wrong person.
Employee carelessness, remote work practices and failure to restrict data access on personal devices are likely sources of breaches. The new legislation carries significant financial penalties, and will affect any small business that collects personal information from their customers and staff.
Does your business have a Security Policy, and a Data Breach Response Plan? Find the Data breach reporting tool here.
Compliance with the AgVet Code
Correct interpretation and implementation of AgVet Code requirements is of particular relevance to FIAAA members. This is a topic in itself and is dealt with separately. Refer to our Resources page for information. More will be added over time.
Stewardship and the FIAAA
Members of the FIAAA agree to comply with its Rules. This means advocating and promoting the safe use of feed ingredients and additives and acting in the interests of the industry.
It is hoped that this education module is helpful in the stewardship endeavours of your organisation.