Legislating objective for super: consultation paper released
The Government has announced that it has released a consultation paper that seeks feedback about the benefits, phrasing and implementation of an objective for superannuation. In doing so, the government stated that despite its central role in the retirement income system, there is no agreed objective of superannuation, legislated or elsewhere, to serve as a guide for policy makers, government, regulators, industry, and the wider community. It further said that legislating an objective for super will give confidence to the super industry and peace of mind to Australian workers that we’ll do everything we can to safeguard their savings to deliver income in retirement. The consultation paper and information about the consultation process are available on the Treasury website, here. Submissions close on 31 March 2023.

ATO: Details of biggest GST fraud operation
The ATO has issued details of its crackdown on the biggest GST fraud in Australia’s history through Operation Protego. Under the operation a raft of enforcement activity has been undertaken across the country by the ATO-led Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT), including the issuing of warning letters and the execution of search warrants against 10 individuals suspected of promoting the fraud including on social media. The ATO emphasised that these actions send a strong message to people promoting this scheme that the ATO will find you, and there will be serious consequences. As at 31 December 2022, the ATO has taken compliance action on more than 53,000 clients and stopped approximately $2.5billion in fraudulent GST refunds from being paid to individuals seeking to defraud the system. In addition, two individuals have been sentenced to jail time for their crimes so far, following their arrest in 2022. At the same time, the Government welcomed the swift action of the ATO-led SFCT and  said that the ATO raids put fraudsters on notice. It also said that the SFCT have advised that Operation Protego has entered the compliance phase, with more charges expected to be laid over coming months.

ASIC: SMSF auditors competency standards class order to “sunset”
ASIC has announced that it proposes to allow class order CO 12/1687 regarding Competency Standards for Approved SMSF Auditors, to expire (“sunset”) on 1 April 2023. The class order is made under s128Q(1) of the SIS Act and sets out competency standards for approved SMSF auditors. The competency standards require approved SMSF auditors to have knowledge of laws applying to those auditors. Approved SMSF auditors must also comply with the auditing and assurance standards and independence requirements under s128F of the SIS Act. ASIC has formed the view that the class order is no longer required and does not form a necessary and relevant part of the legislative framework as ASIC disqualifies and suspends SMSF auditors for not complying with auditing and independence standards as required by s128F of the SIS Act. ASIC also emphasised that if auditors are adversely affected by the expiry of CO 12/1687 or if there is general feedback in relation to it, submissions are due by 10 March 2023.