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Australia: Tax Office Releases Guidance Paper and Draft Rulings on Bitcoin

(Aug. 25, 2014) On August 20, 2014, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) issued a guidance paper, a Goods and Services Tax (GST) Draft Ruling, and four draft taxation determinations on the taxation treatment of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. The documents were released in time for taxpayers to take them into account in completing their […]

Australia: High Court Strikes Down Government Funding of School Chaplains

(June 23, 2014) On June 19, 2014, the High Court of Australia (the highest court in Australia) ruled unanimously that the federal government’s funding of the national school chaplaincy program was invalid under the Australian Constitution. (Williams v Commonwealth of Australia [2014] HCA 23 [Williams (No.2)]; Case S154/2013: Williams v. Commonwealth of Australia & Ors, […]

Australia: Two Indonesian Nationals Sentenced to Prison for People Smuggling

(June 10, 2014) On June 5, 2014, a judge in the Perth District Court in Western Australia sentenced two Indonesian nationals to terms of imprisonment for their roles in a 2012 boat journey that resulted in the deaths of more than 100 asylum seekers who were trying to reach Australian territory. (Joanna Menagh, Indonesians Jailed […]

Australia: Budget Includes Introduction of $7 Co-pay for Doctor Visits

(May 22, 2014) On May 13, 2014, the Australian Treasurer, Joe Hockey, published the federal government’s annual budget for the period July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015. (BUDGET 2014-1 (last visited May 14, 2014); for information on the Australian appropriations process, see The Commonwealth’s Appropriation Framework – An Introduction, Department of Finance website, http://www.finance.gov.au/budget/budget-process/appropriation-bills.html […]

Australia: Government Releases Climate Change Policy Details

(Apr. 29, 2014) On April 24, 2014, the Australian federal government released the Emissions Reduction Fund White Paper, which provides information on the design of the fund that is to be the central element of the government’s climate change policy. (Press Release, Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Emissions Reduction Fund White Paper Released (Apr. 24, 2014).) […]

Australia: New Privacy Law Comes into Effect

(Mar. 21, 2014) On March 12, 2014, substantial amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) that resulted from a bill passed in 2012 came into effect in Australia. (Privacy Act 1988 (Cth); Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012, both COMLAW.) The reforms arose from a major review of privacy law conducted by the Australian […]

Australia: High Court Strikes Down Territory’s Same-Sex Marriage Law

(Dec. 19, 2013) On December 12, 2013, the High Court of Australia (Australia’s highest court) ruled that a law granting same-sex couples the ability to marry in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is invalid because it is inconsistent with the federal Marriage Act 1961. (The Commonwealth of Australia v. The Australian Capital Territory [2013] HCA […]

Australia: Bill Giving Personhood to a Fetus at 20 Weeks Passed by State Lower House

(Nov. 29, 2013) On November 21, 2013, the Lower House of the New South Wales (NSW) Parliament passed a controversial bill that would allow authorities to charge a person who harms or destroys a fetus of 20 weeks’ or more gestation with a criminal offense. (Anna Patty, Zoe’s Law Passes in NSW Parliament Lower House, […]

Australia: Court Holds Public Servant Can Be Fired for Critical Tweets

(Aug. 16, 2013) It was reported on August 13, 2013, that a judge of the Australian Federal Circuit Court had dismissed an application by a public servant for a stay in her dismissal from her public affairs role at the Department of Immigration. The recommended dismissal, following an investigation conducted last year, had been due […]

Australia; New Zealand: New Food Labeling Standard Requires Manufacturers to Prove Health Claims

(Apr. 11, 2013) On April 7, 2013, New Zealand’s Minister of Food Safety, Nikki Kaye, announced that she had signed into law a standard that will require food manufacturers to provide scientific evidence to support all health and nutrition claims made in relation to their products. (Press Release, Hon. Nikki Kaye, New Food Health Labelling […]