2004 was yet another very busy year for Independent Contractors of Australia. Our major activities appear below:
South Australian industrial relations legislation
Just before Christmas 2003, the SA Government released a discussion paper proposing legislation that would have effectively outlawed independent contracting. It called for submissions by early February 2004. ICA made a submission and conducted a lobby campaign against those aspects of the proposals that would damage independent contractors. Finally, in October 2004, the SA Government released the Bill and ICA made another submission. The Bill has not addressed any of ICA’s concerns. As of 26 November, the Bill had passed the Lower House in SA and it is to be debated in the Upper House before Christmas. ICA is calling for the Bill to be withdrawn because it is fundamentally flawed.
Tax. PSI Explanation
This occupied a good deal of time from October 2003 until mid-2004 as it involved extensive liaison with the Australian Taxation Office on the development of a layperson’s explanation of the Personal Services Tax legislation. Our three-page explanation is particularly important because it helps independent contractors to understand their tax status and entitlements to business-style tax treatment, including deductions, retention of profit and so on.
Tax Advisory Committee
In late 2004, ICA was invited on to an ATO advisory committee reviewing tax administration for small businesses. ICA representatives attended their first meeting in November 2004. The Committee’s work will be an important feature of activity in 2005. The objective of the consultative committee is to advise on simplification of tax compliance and administration for small business.
Independent Contractors’ Summit
ICA organized the first-ever national summit on independent contractor issues in Canberra in August 2004. This one-day summit was well attended by senior policy officials from the Federal and State governments—including the ATO and the ACCC—and a good mix of independent contractors from across Australia and from different industry sectors. It was a unique opportunity for independent contractors to network with a wide section of the public policy bureaucracy and to explore policy issues.
Tasmanian Industrial Relations
Tasmania initiated a review of its industrial relations legislation to which ICA made a submission. This was followed up with discussions in Hobart with Government policy officials in September. ICA has been invited to have further input in 2005 as the review moves towards a proposal and legislation.
Victorian owner drivers review
The Victorian Government initiated a review of owner-drivers in the transport sector. ICA made a submission and was invited to respond to further questions put to ICA by the review committee.
Victorian Review of Work Safety laws
In 2003, Victoria conducted a review of their Occupational Health and Safety laws. ICA made a submission. In mid-2004, the Maxwell Review was released. ICA issued a response to the Review. ICA believes that the report is highly positive from an independent contractor’s perspective. In late October, the Victorian Government presented to Parliament a new OHS Bill based on the Maxwell recommendation. As of the date of this annual report, ICA is studying the Bill and will make comment in the near future.
Independent Contractor Legislation
In the October Federal election campaign, the Liberal Party released a policy announcing that independent contractor legislation would be introduced if the Coalition was returned. ICA announced that it supported the principles described in the policy. With the return of the Liberal/National coalition, ICA is in the process of developing recommendations to present to the Government on the nature of the legislation. More information will be made available in early 2005.