This year as seen some significant events for Self-Employed Australia, perhaps the major one being the campaign launched to reform the Australian Taxation Office. But first some organisational matters.
1. Retirement of Norman Lacy as Chair
This year Norman has decided to step down as Chair and from the Board. Self-Employed Australia and all self-employed people in Australia owe Norman a great debt of thanks.
Norman joined the board in our second year of operation in 2000 and has been on the board for 18 years. For the last 10 years Norman has been chair, leading us through hard-fought campaigns and successes. Norman’s CV is as follows:
Norman Lacy has been President of ICA since November 2008 (10 years) and a board member from the founding of ICA in 2000. (18 years) He has been an independent contractor since 1991. Mr Lacy has been involved in management (corporate and government) for the past 20 years. From 2000 until March 2009, Norman was the founding Executive Director of the Information Technology Contract & Recruitment Association. From 1998 to 2000, he was Managing Director of the Swish Group Limited, one of the early Internet professional service providers in Australia. Prior to this, he provided management services to a range of organisations including the Australian Computer Society, ACIL Australia and Monash Mt Eliza Business School. In 1991, Mr Lacy established the China Australia Management Centre in Beijing on behalf of the Australian Government through AusAID. Previously, he had been Director of International Programs at the Australian Management College and Manager, Corporate Communication at IBIS – Deloitte, Haskins and Sells. During the early 1980s, he was the Minister of Educational Services and Minister for the Arts in Victoria. He holds a M.Sc. in Management from Durham University Business School and a B.A (Hons.) from Monash University.
We thank Norman for his steady hand, close attention to detail and wise counsel.
2. Social Media
Our social media activity has ramped up this year.
Website: Averaged around 2,500 unique views a month peaking at close to 5,000.
Page loads peaked at over 8,000.
Mobile: We upgraded the website to a usable quality mobile presence
• We now have over 1,000 followers.
• Peaked at 15,000 reaches on one story. Regularly in the multiple 1000s.
• Active discussions happening.
LinkedIn: Peaking at over 600 impressions.
Twitter: Followers over 300.
Video chats: Ken has produced several YouTube chats
We began a series of webinars:
- Tax breaks and tax traps (conducted).
- Transcriber sector (conducted).
- Consultants and their contracts (planned).
3. Membership Restructure
We launched the new membership structure in November 2017. There has been a good reaction with positive response. A Members-only newsletter is now operating on a quarterly basis.
We are looking to establish a dedicated subcommittee to support the transcriber sector and transcribers.
5. ATO Cases
We continue to support people under attack from the ATO in a variety of ways. Current cases include:
- Rod Douglass
- Outscribe and Transcribers’ ABNs
- Peter Fortunatow
- Helen Petaia
- Michael Shord
6. Media Coverage
Media coverage of our activities continues to be extensive including in The Australian, ABC, The Age/SMH Fairfax, Current Affair, Channel 7 News.
7. Policy Activity
Our primary activity of policy advocacy remains strong. This year we have:
- Opposed the Victorian Labour hire licensing Bill on the basis that it denies natural justice and sets the circumstances for corruption in the sector. The Bill however passed and is now law.
- Opposed the Credit Rating reporting Bill. This has been shelved for now.
- Worked with the ABC/Fairfax on the ATO Mongrel Bunch of Bastards exposé.
- Launched our report into possible corruption in the ATO: ATO Rules for the Rich.
- Are planning a campaign to support the gig economy as a defence of self-employment.
We have been very active in engagement with politicians from all political parties with a primary emphasis this year on ATO issues. Involvement is also strong with many sectors of the Commonwealth bureaucracy, particularly Treasury.
8. Policy Positions
Our major reform agenda relates to the ATO. Specifically, we seek the following:
1. Split ATO into Two Authorities
- Collection and auditing body (ATO).
- Objections, appeals & prosecutions under Attorney General.
2. Small Business Tax Tribunal
- No lawyers.
- ATO presents case on ‘the papers’.
- Taxpayer presents their case. Can have assistance.
- Decision imposed on ATO.
- Taxpayer can appeal to courts.
- Undertakes review/appeals against ATO assessments.
- Can apply a Stay on an ATO decision—that is, stop debt collection until the review is finalised.
3. ABN registration: Major review
- Unilateral ABN denial/withdrawal removed. Appeal before denial.
4. Garnishees and Fraud & Evasion
- Judicial approval required for ATO to take action.
5. R&D grants
- ATO removed. Department of Innovation only. Cash grant not tax rebate.
6. Compensation for ATO wrongs
- Remove from ATO. Independent assessor.
7. ATO independent probe into Project Do It
- Suggest Federal Police or Law Enforcement Commission.
8. Suspend expansion of ATO powers
- Halt Black Economy Bills until the ATO is reformed.