Victoria Park cenotaph

Mental health & the Mental Health ActMental health image

Catherine Henry Lawyers at Newcastle have prepared some useful information about the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW). How does a patient get admitted to hospital as an involuntary patient? What is the role of a primary care giver? Some recent cases.

(Link to information provided by Catherine Henry Lawyers Newcastle)

Small business owners are ageing

Kate Carnell, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, has reported that 61% of employing small business owners are approaching retirement age. She said,

"The small business landscape will be transformed over the coming years with a significant number of older small business owners expected to retire, sell or move on." Ms Carnell said.

Link to Australian Securities & Investment Corpation (ASIC) resouces for small business

Link to Australian Tax Office (ATO) resources for small business

Drought loans & grants summaryDrought paddock windmill

The NSW Law Society is providing a grant of $50,000 to the Rural Financial Counselling Service NSW Central Region to fund legal assistance for farmers and people in rural communities affected by the drought. Farmers and members of rural communities impacted by the drought will be able to apply for grants of up to $1,200 per individual to pay for legal advice through the confidential counselling service.

The Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) has prepared a summary of the farm loans and grants a available as at 23 September 2019.

(Loans & grants summary RAA 23 September 2019)

CaféHospitality businesses fail faster than any other

"In an environment of high rents, labour costs and competition, this is truly a difficult time for those in the hospitality industry. It almost feels commonplace to hear of another established restaurant closing, hospitality staff being underpaid or a disgruntled franchisee upset with the franchising system. Whether it be a fine dining eatery like Woodland House in Melbourne, a culinary institution like Longrain in Sydney or a long time family run business like Fresh N Wild Fish in Portside, it appears no type of hospitality business is immune to the overwhelming economic factors described above."

(see full article Trends in the Hospitality Industry by Shumit Banerjee SV Partners Sydney)

Downsizer (upsizer or same sizer) incentiveTiny house trailer

The incentive intended for older people to downsize allows each owner to use up to $300,000 of the proceeds from the sale of the family home to go into super.

There are a number of conditions to be met (e.g. age, period of ownership of principal place of residence, contirbution deadline) but as long as they are met it doesn't seem to matter whether you are actually moving into a smaller home or not.

(Read article by Bob Deutsch Senior Tax Counsel The Tax Institute)

"Be nice to your children. They pick your nursing home."

Currently roughly 3.6 Australians work for every Australian retiree. By 2040, the Australian ratio is expected to drop to 2.6.

What can we do? Do more with superannuation? How do we get younger skilled workers to work longer? Lower interest rates may not be helping retirees.

(UN World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights)

Gagged public servantEmployees must watch what they say, even anonymously

The recent High Court case of Comcare v Banerji [2019] HCA 23 in line with numerous other cases upheld the right of an employer to take issue with an employee's public statements that could damage the employer.

Over six years a public servant had sent about 9,000 tweets many of which were critical of her department, the government and opposition. The the public service code of conduct requires an employee to uphold the good reputation of the public service and values being apolitical, impartial and professional. Her termination for breach of the public service code of conduct was held to be reasonable.

It did not matter that a tweeter's identity may not be known but it was noted by the court that when posting things on social media people "shoud assume that at some point his or her identity and the nature of his or her employment will be revealed."

"... like an employee in the private sector, a public sector employee cannot contravene the behavioural expectations of their employer and expect immunity under the guise of exercising freedom of speech. The employer's reasonable and lawful instructions about an employee's conduct, typically expressed in the form of a Code of Conduct and associated social media policy, remain paramount - for so long as the employee and employer choose to remain in an employement relationship." (Public Servants all atwitter: HCA has its say on "free speech" by Jack de Flamingh & Daniel Argyris NSW Law Society Journal September 2019)

(See also Freedom of speech in a master/servant relationship by Jack de Flamingh NSW Law Society Journal June 2019)

NRMA Free2go roadside assistance for young peopleKids on car

Our first car or our friend's first car are not always the most reliable vehicles. A great idea so that young people are not stranded is NRMA's Free2go.

Free2go is roadside assistance for young people whether they are driving or not and whether they own the car or not. It is free for the first two years for 16 year olds and free for one year for drivers 17 to 20 years of age.

(More about NRMA Free2go)

Surviving in business - Making it to 10 years

On a similar theme to the next item. A couple of take-aways from a talk by Worrells this week to local accountants & solicitors:-

(Worrells Solvency & Forensic Accountants)

(Six tips for opening a successful restaurant by Andrew Spring in the Sydney Morning Herald Milkcrate 6 August 2019)

Chef imageThe real costs of running an independent restaurant

"You think restaurants are a licence to print money? That is far from the truth," according to Attila Yilmaz the owner-chef of Pazar Food Collective in Canterbury Sydney (in Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Milk Crate 13 August 2019)

(Read the full article)

Banking Royal commission & farm debtDrought

The Hayne Royal Commission recommended amongst other things that a national farm debt mediation scheme be established. At present each State has it's own scheme.

The Federal government says that it supports mediation occurring soon after a loan becomes distressed and not as a last measure prior to the lender taking enforcement action.

When dealing with distressed agricultural loans, the Royal commission also recommended that banks should:-

Community project logoHave a say in community projects in our area

The NSW government makes funding available to community organisations through the My Community Project. Using your Services NSW account login you can vote for projects you would like to see funded in our area.

For current projects voting closes on Thursday 15 August 2019. You need to vote for three things. My first choice was the hub for the homeless.

Vote for My Community Project at https://mycommunityproject.service.nsw.gov.au

Computer & tickCleaning and courier businesses - More forms for the tax office

Businesses providing cleaning and courier services must soon lodge a Taxable Payments Annual Report (TPAR). Due by 28 August 2019 the report is for payments made to contractors for the services they provided on the business's behalf between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019.

(See the Australian Tax Office (ATO) site for more information)

HeadingRental properties: What's deductible and what's not for repairs?

The Tax Institute has produced a helpful info graphic (see here).

Selling or giving away a cat or dog?Dog & cat

Services NSW advises that from 1 July 2019, people advertising kittens, cats, puppies or dogs for sale or to give away in NSW will need to include in advertisements an identification number (i.e. microchip, breeder or organisation No.). More information.

Older sad manElder abuse awareness

Elder abuse can be physical, emotional or financial. In situations where there is an expectation of trust this can be very distressing for the elderly. Sometimes third parties ingratiate themselves with the older person for financial advantage and they can easily fall victims to scams.

We need to be aware of the issues and discuss it openly. A useful resource has been produced by Catherine Henry Lawyers. See Catherine Henry Lawyers article. See also Older people legal topics by Catherine Henry Lawyers. See also Elder Abuse Help page.

The future of retail shoppingGraph

This graph of retail profit margins from The Conversation 4 September 2017 is old news now but illustrates how tough it has been in retail for awhile now.

Dr Jason Pallant of Swinburne University Melbourne was interviewed on ABC Radio Central West on 5 June 2019 by Myf Warhurst about shopping centres becoming more "experiential" and the future of retail shopping. (Listen to McDonald's restaurants in Austria will function as US embassies)

Dr Pallant thinks that shopping centres need to become the "third place" to go after home and work. They need to provide a range of services and facilities that are useful and meaningful to us not just shops. For example, they may include restaurants, medical services, playgrounds and be adjacent to sporting facilities.

Movie promo

A Long Walk to Treatment

In October 2018, as part of the Fair Treatment campaign, 100 supporters walked the 500,000 steps from Dubbo to Sydney to highlight the distance a person in regional NSW may have to travel to reach the drug treatment they need. This Long Walk to Treatment has been made into a powerful documentary, Half a Million Steps, highlighting the personal stories behind the movement for a reform on drugs and the fair treatment of all people.

A premiere screening of Half a Million Steps will be held on Friday 14 June 2019 (6pm arrival for 7pm screening) at the Dubbo RSL 178 Brisbane Street Dubbo. Bookings can be made at: tinyurl.com/DubboPremiere

Money bag $Tax time is coming up - work related expenses & data matching

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) says that many employees are entitled to claim deductions in their tax returns for work related expenses but there are some common misconceptions about exactly what can be claimed.

To claim work related expenses employees must: have spent the money themselves and not been reimbursed; ensure the expense is directly related to earning their income; and have a record to prove their claim. The ATO closely monitors claims for unusual patterns related to specific employment.

The ATO matches data from banks and other government agencies against it's own information to identify where people and businesses may not be reporting all their income. The ATO looks for: interest and dividend income; employment income; government payments; the disposal of shares and property; government grants and payment; payments made to contactors; and distributions from partnerships, trusts and managed funds.

(For more information on work related deductions see ATO site)

Disappointing survey of lawyers

An international survey has revealed extensive bullying and harassment in the legal profession. Unfortunately, it seems that much of it goes unreported.

Michael Tidball CEO of the Law Society of NSW says, "This is a clarion wake-up call for the legal profession, about a problem we need to address."

(See article in Law Society Journal by Kate Allman 15 May 2019)

NRW logo

National Reconciliation Week 2019

Next week, 27 May - 3 June 2019, is National Reconciliation Week

The theme for the week is: Grounded in truth walk together with courage

Utopia castLook out!!! Managers can be liable too

After Royal Commissions and different enquiries we may notice a few resignations by managers or officeholders of corporations.

Various legislation can make management liable for breaches of the law by their organisation or those employed by the organisation.

(See article about accessorial liability by Mark Cox & Renae Harg of MDC Legal)

Business image

Starting your own business guide

If you are considering starting a business a good guide is the Starting a business guide on the business.gov site.

(See Starting a business guide)

What's the problem?

Drawing

(Opinion by Cathy Wilcox Sydney Morning Herald 26 April 2019

Flag of Sri LankaCondolences for the people of Sri Lanka

The Lion flag of Sri Lanka is symbolic of a long heritage and the many values of Sinhala society.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families we know and the peoples of Sri Lanka in this time of tragedy, loss and mourning.

Tax deductions for rental propertiesOld hut LVV

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has said that it will make rental deductions a top priority this year and increase the number of its audits. Taxpayers can no longer claim travel expenses to inspect, maintain or collect rent for residential rental property.

(See the ATO website for more information)

Sexting presents criminal as well as other issues

We know that we have a digital history. What is it with young people sending sexually explicit photos of themselves to each other? As well as the psychological and social issues this raises there can be criminal consequences.

Send buttonIt is an offence for an adult to use a carriage service to have communications with a person the sender believes to be a child under the age of 16 (whether they are or not) intending to engage in sexual activity with the child. The maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment (s. 474.26 Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)).

It is also an offence to use a carriage service to transmit an indecent communication to a person the sender believes to be a child under the age of 16. The maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment (s. 474.27A Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)). A carriage service includes a mobile phone or the internet.

As well as in the Commonwealth legislation, there are also offences relating to recording and distributing intimate images in the NSW Crimes Act 1900 (Div. 15C).

eStatements & digital assets on deathLocked laptop

In the news recently there was the story of the cryptocurrency lost because the administrator who died in India did not leave his widow the password access to his computer.

Most of us have digital assets such as social networking presences, photos, music, websites, domain names, geneology, research and various collections stored on the internet. These are all things that might have to be administered in a deceased estate and sometimes during our lives if we lose capacity.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to track down the details of the assets of some deceased persons because so many bank and other statements that would previously been mailed out are now sent out electronically. Even when in possession of the deceased's devices and computers access to email, MyGov and tax returns is likely to be restricted by logins and passwords.

Give thought to how you make logins and passwords available to executors and attorneys appointed by your power of attorney. Think about how to safely leave those instructions for them to be able to access your bank, super and dividend statements and tax returns if need be.

SVPartners Commercial Risk Outlook Report March 2019

Risk graphs

SVPartners, specialist accountants & advisors, have release their regular report analysing industries and regions in Australia which they predict will face financial distress.

(Click here to see the report)

New Zealand 15 March 2019 - when words elude us

NZ silver fern prayer

(Pat Campbell The Canberra Times artist 18 March 2019)

Woman sadWith the shocking news of the conviction of George Pell -

It is important that victims of trauma look after themselves

See article by Kim Feimingham

Chair of Clinical Psychology, University of Melbourne

28 February 2019

Owner-builders & home warranty insuranceBuilding site

A home owner doing work under an owner-builder permit is not required to have insurance under the Home Building Act 1989 but contractors doing work for the owner-builder worth more than $20,000 must have insurance.

If an owner-builder decides to sell their home within seven years and six months after an owner-builder permit was issued, the contract for sale must include a warning to purchasers that an owner-builder permit was issued in relation to the property and the date it was issued.

An owner-builder still guarantees to a purchaser of their house the quality of the work they undertook. The purchaser of the property is entitled to the benefit the statutory warranties in the Home Building Act 1989 subject to the limitations set out in that legislation.

(See the Fair Trading website for further information)

Is a SMSF right for you? More tax scams & a tax survey

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) often sends out useful information via its small business newsletter (see ATO newsroom online).

Is a self-managed super fund (SMSF) right for you? (Read more)

New ATO scams and old ones continue (25,473 phone scams reported in December 2018 alone) (Read more)

Gift vouchers for doing a tax survey (Read more)Piggy bank

FarmHub launchedFarmHub poster

FarmHub kicked off on 31 January 2019 as part of the Federal government's response to drought. The site is meant to be a one-stop shop and is hosted by the National Farmer's Federation.

Keeping women safe - "Ask for Angela"Ad posters

I am told that quite a few hotels are now displaying posters for the "Ask for Angela" initiative.

"The program, which was born two years ago in England's Lincolnshire, encourages patrons to approach any staff member at participating venues and "ask for Angela" if they feel unsafe or have been put in a compromising situation. The sentence acts as a code to discreetly alert staff, who then escort the affected person to safety or contact authorities for further assistance." (In broadsheet.com.au by Amanda Valmorbida and Julia Wallace)

Not everyone supports the campaign (see article in news.com.au). It is a shame if such an initiative is needed. Isn't it the responsibility of all of us to ensure each other are safe?