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On 25 July 2022, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner published Regulatory Guidance on the “Basic Online Safety Expectations”, which are provided for by Part 4 of the Online Safety Act 2021 (Cth) and the Online Safety (Basic Online Safety Expectations) Determination 2022. This comes a day after eSafety became entitled to issue notices seeking information from a wide range of online service providers regarding their compliance with the expectations.

We are pleased to announce that Baker McKenzie has published the FY23 edition of Directors Duties in Australia. This is a timely guide for directors of Australian companies, setting out pivotal issues for directors to consider in the current evolving corporate governance environment. Matters covered in the guide include common law and statutory duties, financial reporting, continuous disclosure, financial assistance, directors’ insurance and indemnities and other topical issues including climate change, cyber security and anti-bribery and corruption.

The new Australian Government promises nearly AUD 1 billion in investments to Medicare and general practices as part of a number of policy commitments to healthcare and aged care initiatives.
On 21 May 2022, Australia elected a new federal government, the Australian Labor Party. As part of its campaign, the newly elected Federal Government committed to a number of healthcare and aged care policy initiatives with a strong focus on improving quality and access to primary care.

On 2 June 2022, ASIC published the updated ePayments Code which it states will strengthen and clarify a number of existing protections for consumers relating to various forms of electronic payments. The Code has generally been the benchmark for consumer protections for payments and transactions that were triggered within the world of online and mobile banking. It has been an added level of regulation for its subscribers which include most banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia.

Securities law reforms aimed at making it easier for businesses to implement employee share schemes have been adopted and will become effective on 1 October 2022. Originally announced last year, the reforms change the way in which offers under employee share schemes are regulated. It is expected that the new law will replace the current exemptions from prospectus and licensing requirements contained in ASIC Class Orders 14/1000 and 14/1001.

The UK government has introduced a bill to help bring into force the UK-Australia and the UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreements (“FTAs“).

The bill is a key step in ratifying the FTAs but before they come into force, Parliament must scrutinise the FTAs, agree the bill and pass secondary legislation to make the changes required to the UK’s procurement regime to meet the terms of the FTAs.

A range of climate-related policies are likely to be introduced in Australia as the country looks to strengthen its climate position through a new federal government.
A range of climate-related policies are likely to be introduced in Australia as the country looks to strengthen its climate position through a new federal government.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has awarded AUD 150,000 in general damages after finding the Applicant was sexually assaulted and sexually harassed over a period of eleven months. The Applicant was a beauty therapist in a private salon and the harasser was her male co-worker. VCAT found the employer vicariously liable for the co-worker’s actions, but declined to make a finding that the employer had authorised, encouraged or assisted the sexual harassment under s 105 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

On 5 May 2022, in a landmark Australian decision, the Federal Court found that RI Advice had breached its obligations as an Australian financial services licensee to act efficiently, honestly and fairly, as a result of its failure to have in place adequate risk management systems to manage cybersecurity risks. In handing down her judgment, Justice Rofe warned that “cybersecurity risk forms a significant risk connected with the conduct of the business and provision of financial services”. Her Honour noted that the declarations ordered in the matter should deter other AFS licensees from engaging in similar conduct.