Trans Pacific Partnership 

Following the signing by the Minister for Trade and Investment of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement on 4 February 2016, the Minister tabled the Agreement in Parliament on 9 February 2016. In addition to Australia, the countries that are part of the TPP are Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, The United States and Vietnam.

Each TPP country will now follow its own domestic treaty making process before the agreement can enter into force. In Australia this will include a Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) inquiry and the consideration by the Parliament of any implementing legislation or amendments. 

Notice of Data Matching by ATO 

On 16 February 2016, a notice was published by the Commissioner of Taxation published in the Gazette specifying a new data matching program under which the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will acquire details of individuals in receipt of family tax benefit part B, paid parental leave, carer allowance and Medicare entitlement statements from the Department of Human Services (Centrelink and Medicare) for the 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17 financial years.

These records will be electronically matched with ATO data holdings to identify non-compliance with registration, lodgment, reporting and payment obligations under taxation laws. 

Superannuation system review

On 17 February 2016, the Commonwealth Government released the terms of reference for the first two stages of a Productivity Commission review into the efficiency and competitiveness of the entire superannuation system. 

Specifically, the Government has asked the Productivity Commission to:

  • complete a study to develop criteria to assess the efficiency and competitiveness of the superannuation system, and
  • undertake a public inquiry to examine alternative models for a formal competitive process for allocating default fund members to products.

The Commission is required to complete the study within nine months, and the inquiry within 18 months. 

Wine Equalisation Tax

On 12 February 2016, the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee tabled its report - Australian grape and wine industry. From a tax perspective, the Committee recommended that the Government phase out the current Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) rebate over five years, allocating the savings to a structural adjustment assistance program for the industry including an annual grant to genuine cellar door operators to support their continued operation.