And in other news...Customs probe deepens
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service is in great need of reform, according to the Minister for Justice and Home Affairs, Jason Clare.
Mr Clare said officials involved in corruption and organised crime would be ripped “out by the throat” as her vowed to overhaul the Agency.
He said he would also move to place the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) under the watch of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) , which is to be expanded.
Bushfires tax free
The Victorian bushfires, Queensland’s floods and tornadoes and the New South Wales floods have been declared disasters for tax deductibility purposes.
The declarations aim to ensure that qualifying funds established to help with relief efforts can receive tax deductible donations.
Donations to Australian disaster relief funds, established to provide relief in the aftermath of the bushfires, floods and tornadoes will now be tax deductible for a period of two years from the day the disaster occurred.
Vanuatu art at NGA
A new exhibition has been officially opened at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
Comprised of over 50 works, the exhibition Kastom: Art of Vanuatu examines traditional indigenous art of Vanuatu created for community practices, commonly known as ‘kastom’.
It is the first major survey exhibition of the art of traditional Vanuatu in Australia and is on display until 16 June.
Previously this week... Records on hold
The National Archives has issued a disposal freeze on records which may be required in evidence by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The freeze took effect on 31 January and is in force until further notice.
It applies to all Commonwealth Government entities and is in place to ensure records that may be relevant to the Royal Commission or consequent actions are retained and protected.
A Cabinet reshuffle has been announced following the resignation of two ministers.
Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon and Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans have both stepped down.
Mark Dreyfus has been named the new Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Management, relinquishing the role of Cabinet Secretary which will be taken on by Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Jason Clare.
Dr Mike Kelly will serve as the new Minister for Defence Materiel; Brendan O’Connor will become Minister for Immigration and Citizenship; and Mark Butler will take on the Housing and Homelessness portfolio.
Chris Bowen will replace Senator Evans as the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and has also been given responsibility for Small Business.
Tax measure deferred
The 2011-12 Budget measure Better Targeting of Not-For-Profit Tax Concessions has been postponed again.
It is now set to commence from 1 July 2014.
The latest postponement follows a previous deferment which saw the start date put off from 1 July 2011 to 1 July 2012.
ASIC eyes fee waiver
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) may offer a reprieve for those affected by the recent natural disasters.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Bernie Ripoll said circumstances might be taken into account for those people who were having trouble meeting their lodgement obligations.
“ASIC can review late lodgement and late payment fees incurred as a result of factors outside your control and waive them in some circumstances,” Mr Ripoll said.
“If you have been affected by the floods in Queensland and New South Wales, or recent bushfires in southern Australia, you can apply online to waive these fees via the ASIC website.”
Increased funding has been announced to fight the crown-of-thorns starfish for the Great Barrier Reef.
The coral eating crown-of-thorns starfish, which can reach almost one metre in diameter when fully grown and destroy coral faster than it can regenerate, are recognised as a significant threat to the reef.
An additional $800,000 will be provided this financial year, building on the $1.43 million announced last year, and a significant portion will be used to put a second boat on the water to remove the starfish.
Edition 347, 5 February 2013