Weekly Digest – 1 December 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

International Border Reopening for Skilled Workers and Students Delayed

Plans to reopen international borders to skilled workers and students have been halted due to concerns over the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

The 1 December opening will be delayed by at least two weeks, including the plan to open the border to visitors from Japan and South Korea.

Travel Guidance for International Arrivals

In an effort to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant, Australia has tightened its travel rules for international arrivals coming from southern African countries.

Those entering from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, Malawi and the Seychelles must undergo 14 days’ quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status.

Travellers from other countries into NSW, Victoria, and ACT are now also required to go to their place of residence or accommodation immediately and isolate for 72 hours pending further advice.

PM Urges State Leaders to Stick to Reopening Plans

Despite increasing concerns about the Omicron variant, Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged state and territory leaders to stick to their reopening plans. Meanwhile, health authorities will continue to gather more information about the new strain of the coronavirus.

Q3 Economic Decline Not as Bad as Feared

As the Delta variant put half the population under lockdown, latest data showed Q3 GDP declined by 1.9%. However, this figure was still better than forecasts of a 2.7% decline, and relatively moderate compared to the 6.8% quarterly fall last year when the pandemic first struck.

From 9.6% in Q2, the annual pace of growth slowed to 3.9%. Yet, this again beat forecasts of 3.0%.

Manufacturing Industry Rebounded in November

After several months of flat results due to the Delta variant, the manufacturing industry recovered in November. The Australian Industry Group performance of manufacturing index rose by 4.4 points to 54.8.

However, there are still some concerns about the reliability of supply inputs and the worsening labour shortages.

Support for Farmers to Increase Soil Carbon

The government is working with Australian farmers to help lower emissions and realise new commercial opportunities through soil carbon projects.

According to Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor, a new Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) method will make it easier for farmers to generate income from increasing soil carbon.

This could create a new revenue stream of more than $2.4 billion annually for farmers and land managers. The Long Term Emissions Reduction Plan also shows increasing soil carbon could reduce our emissions by between 4 and 16%.

FBT Implications of Christmas Parties

As the end of the year is fast approaching, businesses are getting ready for their Christmas party and are organising gifts for their staff. With this, it’s important to be aware of the fringe benefits tax (FBT) implications of these.

Because there is no separate FBT category for Christmas parties, here are some ATO guidelines to keep you on track:

  • Exempt property benefits– The costs associated with such events are exempt from FBT if they are provided on a working day, on your business premises, and consumed by your employees.
  • Exempt minor benefits– It can be regarded as a minor benefit and exempt if the cost of the party is less than $300 per employee and certain conditions are met.
  • Christmas gifts– Christmas gifts to employees may be a minor benefit that is an exempt benefit when the value is less than $300.

If you need help with your FBT, get in touch with us today to avoid running into problems with the ATO.

Upcoming Key Dates for December 2021

Here are the upcoming key dates for the month of December:

21 December

  • November monthly BAS due

Support for Apprentices to be Expanded

The $3.9 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program will extend support into the second and third year of an eligible Australian Apprenticeship through the $716 million Completing Apprenticeship Commencements program.

From October, eligible employers will receive a 10% wage subsidy in the second year of an eligible apprenticeship, and 5% in the third year. The government’s investment is expected to continue to support the 270,000 anticipated commencements under the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program from October 2020 to March 2022.

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