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Retail and Commercial Leasing Act Amendment Bill 2019
The State Government has today (3/07/2019) introduced into Parliament a series of amendments to the Retail and Commercial Leases Act 1995 on 3 July 2019.
The Bill has passed in the House of Assembly and will be debated in the Legislative Council shortly.
The amendments aim to build on the existing protective measures for lessees under the Act and include:
- Allowing leases to move in and out of the Act;
- Clarifying the application of GST;
- Establishing a formal process through the Valuer-General to review the rent threshold which currently stands at $400,000.
- Providing an option of a landlord to register a new lease which is above the current $400,000 threshold so that the lease will not be captured by the Act should the threshold increase;
- Requiring increased requirements for disclosure of information by landlords to tenants; Increasing penalties for breaches of the Act (broadly in line with CPI between 1995 and 2015) and introducing two new penalties;
- Increasing the value of a bond from up to four weeks rent to up to three months’ rent; Amending the definition of a public company, and also providing protection to charity groups which may use a public company structure but are registered with the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission;
- Excluding overseas companies from coverage of the Act if they are registered on an international stock exchange:
A number of technical amendments are also included in the Bill.
These proposed amendments align with the Government’s agenda for small business as they will assist in making South Australia a more attractive place to invest and grow business.
A copy of the Retail and Commercial Leases (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2019 as passed in the House of Assembly on 24 September 2019 can be found here.
New guidelines to reduce impact on small business from roadworks
State and Local Governments will be expected to follow a new blueprint on managing roadworks impacts on small businesses according to Small Business Commissioner John Chapman.
The new document “Open for to Business – Making Roadworks Work” was released at a forum of Small Business Friendly Councils convened by the Small Business Commissioner today.
“Both levels of Government will have no excuses for not adopting the principles laid out in this document,” Mr Chapman said.
“In my role, the issue of roadworks affecting small businesses has been one of the most difficult to deal with as Governments seem to think it is okay to rip up and close roads with little consideration of the impact on small businesses” Mr Chapman said.
Small Business Commissioner calls for legislation to improve small business payment times in his 2018/19 Annual Report
The South Australian Small Business Commissioner is calling for new legislation to compel big businesses to pay small businesses on time.
“Simply it is time for a legislative approach which forces big businesses to not only implement better payment terms but also report on their performance,” Small Business Commissioner John Chapman said.
“To see businesses having to wait 90 days or more for payment is simply unacceptable – small businesses are not banks for big business.”
Expanding on his comments in his 2018/19 Annual Report tabled in State Parliament, Mr Chapman said the benefits to small business from improved and consistent cash flow would be immense.
“There are more than 143,000 small businesses in South Australia and my office consistently deals with issues around delayed payments.”
Mr Chapman said the State Government should pursue this area with vigour through the Council of Australian Government (COAG) to implement national legislation to force bigger businesses to improve their payment terms.
The Small Business Commissioner noted that the Federal Government is now seeking to enshrine better payment terms for small business as part of new tender arrangements and is developing a national large business reporting framework to encourage fairer, faster payment times and terms for small business.
But he was critical that big business was not improving their behaviour in this area. Mr Chapman noted that the Business Council of Australia had implemented a voluntary payment code for its big business members but there is no mandatory reporting requirement in terms of payment performance and the take up by members has been lukewarm.
“Unfortunately, we need legislation to ensure fairness and to address the imbalance of power between big and small businesses – 30-day terms as a legislated maximum would be a good start.” At that point, there could be a requirement to pay interest on the outstanding amount after 30 days, similar to that which the South Australian Government is legally required to adopt under its Late Payment of Government Debts (Interest) Act 2013.
Mr Chapman backed his argument with statistics from accounting software firm, Xero, which has stated that late payments to Small and Medium Businesses are a systemic problem and that their data showed that payments arrive on average 23 days late. Xero calculated the value of “big business late payments to small business at $1.15 billion a year.”
Mr Chapman said a simple way to address this would be through unfair contract terms law which the Federal Government has committed to improve.
“Simply you could require that any contract term which has a payment clause outside of 30 days be declared illegal and that the ACCC would have the powers to apply a penalty and, if necessary, prosecute the offending business,” Mr Chapman said.
The Small Business Commissioner proposed the initial threshold to commence with publicly listed companies and their subsidiaries who would have to report publicly on their payments performance.
Cuts to payroll tax big boost for small business
The South Australian government has abolished payroll tax for small business.
From 1 January 2019, businesses with annual Australian wide wages
- of up to $1.5 million are no longer liable for payroll tax.
- between $1.5 million and $1.7 million will benefit from a reduced payroll tax rate.
For more information on how your business will benefit from these changes click here