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The Australian government has, after many years of deliberation, passed the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Foreign Bribery) Bill 2023 which introduces a new indictable corporate offence of failing to prevent foreign bribery.
This offence will apply where an associate of a company has committed bribery in relation to a foreign public official for the profit or gain of the company. The company will be liable unless it can establish that it has ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent the commission of bribery by its associates.

The transition from the Banking Executive Accountability Regime to the Financial Accountability Regime is due to take place on 15 March 2024 for the banking industry. Companies covered by the regime need to be aware of these changes and ensure relevant documentation, including relating to accountable persons and variable remuneration, is up to date.

The Federal Government passed the second tranche of the Closing Loopholes legislation this week, introducing key changes in respect of casual employees, independent contractors, gig economy workers, the trucking industry, and the right to disconnect.

On 13 February 2024, the Minister for Communications announced the Terms of Reference for the upcoming independent review into the operation of the Online Safety Act 2021 (Cth) (OSA). For more information about other recent developments in the Australian online safety roll-out.
The Review is required by section 239A of the OSA, and will examine the effectiveness of the OSA, and consider whether additional protections are needed to prevent the publication and spread of harmful online material.

Draft discussion papers have been released outlining the purpose and functions of the new Commonwealth Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA is to be established by way of new standalone legislation which we anticipate will be released in 2024. Other legislation (such as the new “nature positive” legislation, expected to replace the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act)) is to confer powers and responsibilities on the new EPA Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
This article sets out what we currently know about how the EPA is to operate, how that varies from current arrangements and what this means for the future of project environmental assessment in Australia.

The Australian Government’s interim response to the “Safe and responsible AI in Australia” discussion paper flags a risk-based approach to AI governance in Australia including a mix of voluntary AI safety standards, voluntary labelling and watermarking for generative AI and the development of mandatory guardrails with a particular focus on high-risk and frontier AI applications.

From Tuesday, 12 December 2023, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) will have new powers to commence an inquiry and ensure compliance when it ‘reasonably suspects’ an organization is not complying with its positive duty under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (“Sex Discrimination Act”). The positive duty commenced in December 2022 following the passing of legislation to implement a recommendation in the Respect@Work Report.

2023 has ended with a flurry of activity from Australian authorities and regulators that provides deep insights into Australia’s current and emerging cyber threat environment and will heavily influence the development of Australia’s cyber policy in the years to come. We have pulled together key insights, important trends in the cyber threat landscape and recommendations for cyber risk management that should be of interest to all Australian businesses and directors moving into 2024 and beyond.

2023 has been a big year in Australia for developments in artificial intelligence (AI). We have pulled together the main announcements, key insights and regulatory themes to emerge this year and recommendations for risk management that will be of interest to Australian companies engaging with AI technologies into 2024 and beyond.

On 8 December 2023, the Australian Treasury released the Second Consultation Paper on “Payments System Modernization: Regulation of Payment Service Providers” that provides some further details on the proposed broadening of the licensing and regulatory framework for payment service providers. This follows the Treasury’s initial consultation conducted in June earlier this year.