Receiving gifts and bequests from abroad

My elderly mother, a citizen and resident of India, no connection with , wishes to give about $6000 to each of my two sons by means of a bank transfer (SWIFT) to help with their university (HECS) debts. Both are citizens and residents of , over 21, and have never received any kind of Centrelink payments. The elder one is now in full-time work and pays regular tax. The younger one has a small income from casual work and does not pay tax. (1) What are the n tax implications? (2) What sort of documentation will satisfy the ATO and perhaps the security establishment? (3) Can she repeat this next year if she is alive? (4) What if she dies and the money is paid as per her Indian will? S.M.
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has no gift duties and your sons can receive the money and pay off some of their HECS debt with no tax payable, nor any need to disclose the gifts in their tax return.

Your mother can do this as often as she likes and I’m sure the more frequently she does, then the happier her grandsons will be! Again, if she leaves money to family members in her will, there is no death duty in and no restrictions on the money transfer.

My partner (60) and I (65) respectively, are no longer working and we don’t receive any benefits. We are quite comfortable about selling down assets to fund our lifestyle. Estate planning is not really an issue, being a same-sex, childless couple with relatives who are very comfortably off and we will be receiving our siblings’ inheritance. We own our $2 million home outright, plus two investment properties, one worth $900,000 with a $200,000 mortgage, the second, $700,000 with a $260,000 mortgage, plus a self-managed super fund (SMSF) with about $700,000 and $300,000 in cash. My thoughts were to simplify matters and sell the first property ($900,000), pay off the second ($700,000) and sit back. There will be substantial capital gains tax (CGT), but that will always be the case. We age-proofed our home when we renovated a few years ago and intend paying for services and staying independent until physical/mental health declines. What are your thoughts, given your recent comments about not selling real estate? J.M.

When weighing up competing philosophies of (a) not selling property investments until you need the capital and (b) entering retirement without debt, then the latter ranks above the former.

In other words, being in debt is always a higher risk situation. For example, interest rates can rise to take a large slice of your retirement income, or a lender can demand prompt repayment, the borrower can suffer illness, injury or a major financial setback and so on.

So I agree with your plan to clear the debt but why not keep the larger property? If possible use the remaining months of 2016-17 to maximise contributions into your partner’s superannuation account since they are still under age 65.

Don’t underestimate the value of estate planning. You should each have in place a non-lapsing binding death benefit nomination for your SMSF (first ensure that your trust deed allows them), a will to cover non-super assets, a power of attorney to cover individually owned financial assets, with another, separate, power signed as individual trustee of your SMSF, (or as directors of a corporate trustee), guardianships to make healthcare decisions if one of you is incapacitated, plus advance care directives describing the kind of extreme care you may or may not require. If you are individual trustees of the SMSF, agree who will be asked to become the necessary second trustee if one of you tumbles off your twig. In matters of deceased estates, Murphy’s Law reigns supreme.

My husband died suddenly 2?? years ago. I live in our home, valued at $700,000, and I paid the mortgage out with my husband’s super. I sold an investment unit and am now due to pay $43,000 in CGT in March. We own the house next door as well, valued at $600,000, with a mortgage of $300,000, and my accountant advised me I would pay $63,000 in CGT next year had I sold it. My daughter is moving into it when the tenants move out and will be there for 12 months while she builds. I’ll pay the mortgage on it to help her. I am 61, still working, but long hours in retail and commuting mean I plan to go from four to three days very soon. When she moves out of the house, I’ll move in, then do a bit to my house to get it ready to sell. It would probably cost me $700,000 to get a nice unit in about 12 months. I gave $22,000 in one super and $65,000 in another. I just need to know if I’m on the right track. H.H.

It sounds as though you are on top of things. Your accountant may be able to tell you how you can use deductible super contributions to reduce CGT.

I understand you plan to sell both the remaining properties and move into a unit. Make sure you understand how much you will have left after selling the old properties and buying a new one, and how much of this can be placed into super to provide an untaxed income in retirement.

One suggestion is that you could save a lot of buying and selling costs by staying in one of your houses until you retire and hire a cleaner and gardener, they’re cheaper than stamp duty. Then, much later, look to buy an independent living unit in a retirement village with care facilities attached.

My wife (67) and I (81) are trustees of our SMSF. Her 2016 pension balance was $1,888,000 while mine was $375,000. With the upcoming transfer balance cap of $1.6 million, can my wife draw down $300,000 from her account, then give it to me to start a new pension within the SMSF? A.A.

Sorry, being over 65, you cannot make further super contributions.

Your wife’s four choices are (a) do nothing and run an unsegregated fund, using the Tax Office’s option for CGT relief at June 30, (b) rolling over the excess above $1.6m at June 30 into a separate accumulation account within the SMSF, ensuring entirely separate bank accounts and investments, which requires a great deal of operating care, or (c) rolling it over into an external accumulation fund, which I believe to be the simplest option or (d) cashing in the excess and investing it out of super.

Having too much money is a nice problem to have.

If you have a question for George Cochrane, send it to Personal Investment, PO Box 3001, Tamarama, NSW, 2026. Help lines: Financial Ombudsman, 1300 780 808; pensions, 13 23 00.

Reducing the risks of borrowing to buy an investment property

Despite increasing concern about the possibility of a sharp fall in property prices, especially for apartments, investor demand for properties continues to increase, with bank lending to investors reaching record highs.
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This demand for geared properties is largely driven by tax considerations following the steep reduction in the tax savings from superannuation, particularly for higher-income earners.

For taxpayers with annual incomes above $250,000, the maximum tax saving from deductible super contributions will soon be 17 per cent, with the maximum annual deductible amount reduced to $25,000 from July 1. Compared with this strictly controlled regime, which also deprives access to the assets involved until at least age 60, the tax assistance for geared investments is currently unlimited with all losses tax deductible at full marginal rates.

Current investor demand is also being increased by concern that the assistance to geared investors is too generous to last and the desire to take advantage of the current rules while they last. Given the large number of negatively geared investors, almost certainly, as with the 1985 capital gains tax, future rule changes will apply only to new investors.

These considerations increase the attractions of borrowing now to purchase assets to be held for a long time. The emphasis in doing so is to select assets likely to increase in value and generate long-term capital gains. While the running yield is also relevant, having income subject to capital gains tax has two large benefits.

First, the capital gains tax is payable only when the asset is sold, and transfer of assets by bequest doesn’t trigger a liability until the beneficiary sells the asset. Second, the capital gains tax rate is half the normal marginal income tax rate once the asset is owned for longer than 12 months.

Selecting the asset to be purchased is the key to a profitable outcome and careful research and evaluation of prospects is crucial. The emphasis should be on the merits of the assets purchased and not the tax savings from the transaction. Negative gearing losses will be generated from both poorly and wisely chosen investments.

Also, while the tax benefits of gearing are increased by not paying off the investment debt, investment risks can be reduced by other strategies. These include concentrating on paying off any non-deductible debt on a family home and building up assets owned by a partner with a lower marginal tax rate.

For older people able to access their super within a reasonable time, non-concessional super contributions are a tax-effective alternative to paying off an investment debt. These strategies all have the advantage of maximising the gearing tax deduction while reducing the final outstanding debt and overall risks.

Daryl Dixon is executive chairman of Dixon Advisory.

[email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au

Renters win payout after ‘black water’ contaminates bayside home

Tenants in a bayside Melbourne suburb have won compensation by a landlord who failed to keep their home in good repair.
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A couple who lived in a house in Elwood with their children was awarded just over $6000 after they took their fight to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Rebecca and Graham Matthews claimed their home and belongings were contaminated by “black water” after a major storm on December 28 last year.

Flooding damaged the walls, ceilings and carpets as well as the tenants’ clothing and posed a threat to health.

They had warned the landlord of a damp spot in the hallway ceiling in 2014, but nothing was done.

VCAT deputy president Ian Lulham found that warning put the landlord on notice about the house’s potential for storm damage, and that the landlord breached her duty under the Residential Tenancies Act to ensure premises were maintained in good repair.

The tenants were ignored again when they asked for repairs to the house after the storm, with the real estate agent, Axis Properties, threatening to take them to VCAT if they left without giving full notice to terminate tenancy.

A week after the storm, water was still coming from light fittings in the living room and bedroom.

The tenants moved out after suffering headaches, skin rashes and nausea, but continued to pay rent as a sign of good faith.

The tribunal heard that water in the carpet caused such a foul smell that the tenants could not live in the dry part of the house.

Because the agent took no action and did not concede the water damage was doing the tenants harm, the tenants obtained a report from an environment, health and safety assessor, who found the house was uninhabitable because of mould, lead paint and black water contamination.

An insurance assessor also found black water contamination, advising the tenants to get out and throw away all contaminated items.

The City of Port Phillip issued a building order, saying the “stormwater discharge system to the existing dwelling is dilapidated, allowing water ingress to the inner parts of the dwelling, posing a danger to the occupants”.

Mr Lulham found the landlord had breached an obligation to identify and rectify defects, ordering rent from December 29 to January 27 be paid to the tenants.

Also covered in the $6,023.52 payout: the cost of reports, insurance excess, unplanned moving, and an out of home fee of $100 per day.

Mr Lulham described the landlord’s position as unwarranted and irresponsible.

Spin classes won’t help China cut the fat

Profile piece on new indoor bike riding experience called Scenic Cycle that has opened. It’s a bit like a cross between a spin class and an Imax theatre, as bike riders are led on a class that via the projection of virtual scenery appears to traverse some of the world’s most scenic roads and majestic climbs. Photography Brendan Espositosmh,13th June,2014DQoNCg0KU2VudCBmcm9tIG15IGlQYWQphoto.JPG Photo: Brendan EspositoOne of the biggest battles during my life has been keeping my weight down and I think regular readers know that I once ballooned out to 150 kilograms. And being no taller than Napoleon, that was really stupid.
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So eight years ago I had stomach banding surgery and shed 60 kilograms. Nevertheless, keeping fit remains a constant battle and my method is to head out to the park at 6am with Dawn the trainer. I know that it seems ridiculous to have someone help with simple exercises like walking but in my case it works, and I’ve already lived five years longer than I was supposed to with all that weight on.

Perhaps I should have just joined a gym like the increasing number of federal bureaucrats who, according to figures released this week, are racking up an annual bill of $12 million for gym memberships and weight-loss programs at taxpayers’ expense.

The 20,000 plus ATO employees are claiming almost $6 million a year and they are still not quick enough to catch their rightful share of cash flowing out of the country from many of the multinationals.

They should do what most of us do and use the park, although the trendy ones are now heading to the super-duper gyms where you can get fit in all sorts of new ways.

Mara, Louise’s niece, is addicted to spin classes. These spin classes are expensive stationary bike rides and you can spend $100 a week on riding up and down digitally induced hills.

But the costs don’t end there. You’ve got to have the latest active gear and matching water bottle. I’m told that lemon Lycra with orange stripes is the go.

One of Louise’s other nieces, Holly, has just signed up for F45 training – a new cult, not colt, that is apparently “guaranteed to leave you breathless”.

The other cousin, Greg, is into traditional weightlifting but the fact is that all of this family pay their own way, unlike the federal public servants who increasingly use the term ” fit for purpose” to describe their bureaucratic capacities for “deliverables”.

As Charlie says, “if I knew I was going to live this long, I would have kept in better shape”.

Well the truth is that we are all going to have to pay more out of our own pockets for our health.

World Bank figures show public spending on health growing from 4.8 per cent of GDP in 1995 to 6.3 per cent in 2014. The United States grew from 13.1 per cent to 17.1 per cent over that period and Britain 6.7 per cent to 9.1 per cent. Health is the second biggest item in the federal budget after social security and welfare, at 15.9 per cent in 2016-17, and there is no doubt it will increase further as the population ages. We can’t afford it!

The government is now well into the run-up for the federal budget and I hope that we have the fittest people in the country on the job.

Our Treasurer is also fond of talking about government initiatives being “fit for purpose” but the bigger question is whether the budget itself is fit for the times we find ourselves in.

We need to lose a bit of weight as a country if we are going to have a healthy future. We must stop eating up more wealth than we can generate.

It’s that simple. We’re a bit like a family where the kids have been getting too much pocket money. It didn’t happen to me when I was young. My pocket money came from collecting bottles for their deposits and selling used newspapers to the fish and chip shop.

I know some will say Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey tried cost reduction and failed miserably. But things will only get worse for the country if we put off hard decisions again while our pollies and senior bureaucrats keep getting fitter themselves in the subsidised gym at Parliament House.

And on the other side of the ledger, we need to massively boost our earned income from overseas trade.

I reckon it should now be obvious that the two most important people in the Parliament are Health Minster Greg Hunt, who is turning into a real star, and the Trade Minister Steve Ciobo, who has picked up where Andrew Robb left off and is working the international scene very effectively.

Let’s see what our $12 million investment in a super-fit Canberra leadership comes up with in the next month or so. If they don’t get this budget fit for the purpose of growing the economy they will miss the opportunity of a decade. The first budget in the three-year term is the only chance you get to put popularity behind doing the right thing.

Less spin ??? more weightlifting.

We will be watching.

Fair Work watchdog raids more than 80 businesses

Blake Roberts worked at Bella Portofino in Wollongong, where he was underpaid. 5th October 2016 Photo: Janie Barrett Photo: Janie BarrettFair Work inspectors have raided more than 80 businesses in NSW in response to complaints of rampant underpayment of young workers.
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The Fair Work Ombudsman launched a series of raids in Wollongong in response to concerns young workers in the town were being exploited.

Fair Work inspectors visited more than 80 businesses unannounced in the city’s central business district across three days this week.

The raids are in the wake of Fairfax Media’s exposure of widespread underpayment and in cases non-payment of university students by cafes, restaurants, retail and take-away food outlets.

Inspectors interviewed business operators and workers and checked records to ensure workers were being paid minimum hourly pay rates, penalty rates, overtime and allowances. Their compliance with record-keeping and pay slip laws was also checked.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell said the auditing was in response to intelligence and public concerns that young workers in Wollongong were being underpaid and treated unfairly. He said a number of audits could lead to full blown investigations.

Inspectors contacted young workers identified by Fairfax Media before targeting the businesses that employ many young workers.

“Wollongong is a tertiary education hub with a high a number of young students who work in casual jobs and the reports of underpayments have been concerning,” Mr Campbell said.

“Young workers can be vulnerable if they are not fully aware of their rights or reluctant to complain, so it’s important we are proactive about checking they’re being paid correctly.”

After taking to Facebook to vent about being offered as little as $10 per hour to work in a takeaway food shop in Wollongong last year, Wollongong University graduate Ashleigh Mounser received complaints from about 67 young workers with similar issues.

Fairfax Media has spent two months talking with many of these workers, including Ms Mounser and her original Facebook respondents, their employers and researchers about the underpayment of workers aged 18 to 24.

Not only were young people in the Illawarra being ripped off, in an area of high youth unemployment, many were working for free in the hope of getting a paid job.

Ms Mounser welcomed news of the raids on businesses, but said more needed to be done to stop the rampant underpayment of students from continuing.

“I’m glad that something is being done, but I would rather that it be prevented rather than punished,” she said.

“I think we still need to look at legislation in terms of preventing it because people are still coming to Wollongong and dealing with the same problem, even it it’s from a different business.”

Arthur Rorris, secretary of the South Coast Labour Council, the peak union body for the region, said Ms Mounser had uncovered a culture of exploitation.

“We are not surprised that the Ombudsman has conducted these raids. It will take much more than three days of raids to get to the heart of the problem,” he said.

“We are talking about hundreds of businesses in our region and thousands around the country.”

Mr Rorris said the labour council has so far recovered thousands of dollars of entitlements for workers who have spoken up about the underpayment problem.

“We are in the process of recovering more in the coming weeks and months,” he said.

Need for energy market independence to avoid fracture

The Business Council of board member Catherine Tanna at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday 29 March 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesThe head of one of the country’s largest energy utilities has warned the nation’s energy markets risk fracture amid the mounting “uncertainty and inconsistency” of state-based energy targets.
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“We’re already grappling with uncertainty and inconsistency created by state-based renewable energy targets,” said Catherine Tanna, the chief executive of Energy.

???Her comments, posted on the company’s website, came as the federal government moves to give the competition watchdog more power over the industry.

It also came in the wake of the closure of Victoria’s large Hazelwood power station on Thursday, which had the nation’s energy market operator AEMO prepared to force industry to shut down to keep the lights on, in a bid to avoid any market disruption.

Closures were avoided as Victoria continued to export electricity for much of Thursday into NSW while importing from Tasmania and South .

Those trades shifted later in the day, with NSW selling into Victoria later in the afternoon as Victoria was also supplying Tasmania.

Prices in the wholesale electricity market remained elevated, at more than $100 a megawatt hour for most of the day.

“With the closure of Hazelwood, obviously the operators of Loy Yang and Yallourn are making money hand over fist,” one industry expert said.

“Competition in the market is too low, so the generators have every incentive to bid their output into the market at as high a price as they can.

“Recently South put forward a proposal that amounts to ‘going-it-alone’ and the federal government has floated the idea of expanding the Snowy Hydro scheme.

“How long before the system fractures?”

Despite the recent criticism of the national electricity market, 15,000 MW of capacity – with a third of that renewable generation capacity – has been added over the past two decades as the emissions intensity of the NEM has fallen by one fifth.

“Clearly the system is challenged,” she said. “But it needs enhancement, not replacement. Absent [political] bipartisanship, we need independence; but we do not need another institution to oversee the energy industry.”

Rather than create new regulators to address the energy challenge such as the n Competition and Consumer Commission – “we have more than enough already’ Ms Tanna said – “the answer lies in how you use the agencies we already have”.

In particular, the n Energy Markets Commission should move from overseeing the sector to take on a role similar to the Reserve Bank in the banking and finance industries where it sets monetary policy, she noted. For its part, the AEMC could guide a carbon market.

“Just as the RBA is responsible for monetary policy, our independent energy institutions might take charge of delivering carbon policy,” Ms Tanna argued. “For example, the AEMC might do this with advice from AEMO and AER. Its lever would be a mechanism for managing carbon.

“A clear long-term carbon signal … would be the premier mechanism to drive a national reduction in carbon emissions, just as it’s the long-term interest rate that drives national investment.

“Or we can watch as federal and state governments continue to work at cross-purposes.”

Her comments came as plans were unveiled for a $1 billion solar-battery farm to be built in South by Lyon Solar, which includes a 330 megawatt solar farm to cost $700 million and a 100MW battery system which will have four hours of full output storage.

The new farm is to be operational by the end of the year and is aimed at heading off shortages which the energy market operator has warned both Victoria and South are facing next summer.

Myer share raid won’t buy board seat

Solomon Lew’s $101 million raid on Myer shares will not automatically deliver the billionaire rag-trader a seat on the department store’s board.
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Amid reports that Myer and Mr Lew’s Premier Investments have already engaged in discussions, sources close to the department store claim Mr Lew’s 11 per cent stake does not come with board representation.

More tellingly, one Myer insider said the question of whether Mr Lew or a representative from Premier would be offered a board seat came down to maintaining the “right balance” on the board.

“It becomes a question of whether you think you can manage all those relationships,” one source said. “And it can become more complicated if it’s a shareholder.”

Retail analysts are divided on whether Myer’s board or management is more at risk from Premier’s unexpected swoop on its shares on Monday, but neither Myer nor Premier are making any public comment.

One investor said the board’s response to former Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes’ “demands” hurt its reputation.

And more recently, it’s understood major Myer shareholders voiced concerns over the board’s role in the $600 million turnaround plan put forward by current chief executive Richard Umbers as well as the speed of the recovery.

One analyst said Myer’s first-half result had also raised questions over the board’s commitment to a sales-led recovery, when cost-cutting was the key driver of revenue growth in the period.

Myer chairman Paul McClintock said he was not going to make any comment at this stage and it was “business as usual” at Myer.

Mr McClintock foreshadowed plans to add another director to the board at Myer’s annual general meeting in November. ‘Lew pressure’

Retail insiders warn Mr Lew will make his influence felt even if he doesn’t agitate for board representation.

“He’s an activist investor, he backs himself and he’s been very successful in most of the things he’s done,” one source said. “If he doesn’t get his way, there is the risk that he might start wielding his influence.

“I’m sure the board is looking at Mr Lew’s history and thinking this isn’t necessarily going to work out well.”

But it’s not just Myer’s board that will be feeling apprehensive about Premier’s share holding, there’s also the management team led by chief Richard Umbers, who will face even greater scrutiny from Premier’s team of experienced retailers.

Market watchers claim Mr Lew is skilled at throwing “bombs from the outside” as he proved as a minority shareholder in Country Road.

“I’m not sure he’s even looking for a board seat,” one analyst said. “It restrains him from acquiring more stock … and it would be very un-Solomon to apply any sort of handbrake.

“Alternatively, would it be such a bad thing to have someone who knows as much about the opposition as Mark McInnes in the tent?” Mr McInnes was the chief executive of David jones before he joined Premier.

A number of retail analysts are puzzled by Premier’s investment in Myer, question why it would invest in the “structurally challenged” department store sector.

Credit Suisse analyst Grant Saligari said Premier had bought into a mature retail market that was bracing for the arrival of global behemoth Amazon. Takeover doubts

“Premier has indicated it does not intend to make a full takeover, and in our view … there would be few compelling reasons for Premier to tie-up its balance sheet when it has a very high returning offshore retail expansion in Smiggle,” Mr Saligari said.

“Either this is a significant vote of confidence in the Myer strategy or there is something else at play.”

Broker Citi was more blunt in its assessment of the investment, particularly if it’s not a precursor to a full takeover.

“It does not represent the ideal deployment of capital, in our view, as shareholders may view Myer as operating in a more challenging environment, mid-way through a turnaround strategy with relatively high exposure to Amazon,” analyst Bryan Raymond said.

And he warned “mixed investor opinion” on the merits of a the acquisition may weigh on Premier Investments’ share price in the medium term.

History suggests Mr Lew has picked up something about Myer and is positioning himself to capitalise on any activity, but Premier didn’t rule out a takeover on Wednesday, either.

ASA director Stephen Mayne said Mr Lew was the “most prolific retail share trader in n history.”

“More often it’s trading share for profit rather than operational influence.”

Human Rights Commission to probe bid to deport Fijians

A family that could be split apart by government moves to deport the two parents back to Fiji has been given a flicker of hope after the Human Rights Commission agreed to examine their case.
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The Prasad family, ethnic Indians who arrived in Sydney in 2000, includes two n-born children who cannot be deported because they are full citizens, with n passports.

Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has declined to exercise his discretionary powers to keep the family together and compliance officials from the Immigration Department have warned the family that deportation action could begin from Tuesday.

Fairfax Media has confirmed the HRC, led by president Gillian Triggs, has accepted a complaint by Jitend Prasad and his wife Joytika that their n childrens’ human rights would be breached if they were sent back to Fiji.

The HRC has found in a number of recent cases that a child’s right “not to be subject to arbitrary or unlawful interference with their family” is breached when the government removes their foreign-born parents.

In a 2013 case that closely mirrors the Prasads’, Ms Triggs found that removing the Bangladeshi parents of an n boy, Master Aishik Antar Paul, back to their country of origin would be “inconsistent” with his rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Both the previous Labor government and the Coalition refused to intervene in the Paul case and the government has recently cut off Medicare rights to the family from Campsie as it continues to seek their removal, according to their lawyer, Christopher Levingston.

“The continuing failure of the Minister [Peter Dutton] and Assistant Minister of Immigration [Mr Hawke] to act in conformity with the recommendations of the Human Rights Commission concerning the best interests of n citizen children, is in my view totally inconsistent with the precept that the family is the fundamental unit of society,” Mr Levingston said.

“The impulse to punish and remove the parents of n citizen children is not only inconsistent with international treaty obligations it is an affront to common sense and does nothing to instil confidence in the integrity of the migration program. It is unfair, unjust and makes absolutely no political sense at all.”

The Prasads’ migration agent, Farnam Razzaghipour, said the department should be notified on Friday but the family remained “petrified” about being sent to immigration detention.

It is usual for the HRC to ask the department to pause any deportation action while the commission investigates but Immigration is not bound by such a request.

An investigator for the HRC said she was unable to comment on the status of any complaint until the commission reports its findings.

The Prasads have lived for 17 years in Eastlakes, southern Sydney, with Jasmita, 15, and her brother Jasneel, 12, both n citizens, attending local schools Randwick Girls’ High and Mascot Public, respectively.

The Prasads, who have had their claim for asylum refused, claim they were caught up in threats and violence by indigenous Fijians from a nearby village during the 2000 military coup in Fiji and would suffer discrimination and degrading treatment on the grounds of their ethnicity if they returned.

According to the law, the minister can use discretionary power if there are “strong, compassionate circumstances that, if not recognised, would result in serious, ongoing and irreversible harm and continuing hardship to an n citizen or an n family unit, where at least one member of the family is an n citizen or n permanent resident.”

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Julie Bishop condemns colleagues over China extradition treaty collapse

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has delivered a blast to the backbench rebels who helped sink the China extradition treaty, questioning their trust in ‘s own legal and political system.
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The deputy Liberal leader has also extended an olive branch to bring Labor back to the table on the ratification, suggesting the government would be prepared to meet an opposition request to review the entire Extradition Act.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull withdrew the treaty from Parliament this week after a backlash from Labor, crossbench senator Cory Bernardi, and a group of government MPs who had threatened to cross the floor over the issue.

The treaty was first signed by John Howard in 2007 and after nearly a decade of delay, the government moved this year to bring it into effect based on advice from the n Federal Police and Department of Foreign Affairs that non-ratification was becoming a major diplomatic irritant.

Ms Bishop told Fairfax Media on Thursday that China’s ambassador to , Cheng Jingye, had expressed deep disappointment the government had been forced to pull out of plans to ratify the treaty.

The Foreign Minister also said she had told her colleagues at a meeting on Monday night that the proposed treaty gave the government broad discretion to deny extradition.

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Senate kills off Turnbull government’s changes to 18C race discrimination law

Attorney-General Senator George Brandis in the Senate at Parliament House on Tuesday 28 March 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesThree years of wrangling over a section of ‘s racial discrimination laws has again amounted to naught after the Senate killed off the Turnbull government’s proposed changes late Thursday night.

A bid to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and make it lawful to offend, insult and intimidate others on the basis of race was voted down by Labor, the Greens and a slew of crossbenchers, including Nick Xenophon and the Tasmanian Independent Jacqui Lambie.

Attorney-General George Brandis described the defeat as a “sad day” but Labor MPs celebrated the bill’s scuttling with frontbencher Tony Burke declaring it a victory for anyone who had experienced racism. The Independent Senator Cory Bernardi, who has led the charge to change the law since the coalition abandoned its election promise in 2014, accused the government of setting the changes up to fail accused the coalition of collaborating in a “tricky deal.” But this was immediately rejected by the Attorney-General George Brandis who said “that is not true.”

But the government will likely be more successful in passing procedural changes to how the n Human Rights Commission handles cases, which make it easier to dismiss vexatious complaints and require greater transparency toward defendants.

The government’s loudest proponents of changing section 18C suggested the issue could be revisited if further examples of the law’s problematic application came to light.

“I strongly suspect we’ll be back here debating this issue again when the next QUT students or Bill Leak case occurs,” Liberal senator James Paterson told Fairfax Media.

“And that will be their [Labor, the Greens and NXT] fault. Section 18C, which they claim to believe in, will be further discredited, and the pressure to fix it will be even greater than it is now.”

Senator Brandis told the chamber the debate took on a more “serious and indeed sinister significance” in light of Labor considering extending section 18C’s provisions to sexuality, disability and age.

“This is not primarily a debate about race. It is a debate about free speech,” Senator Brandis said. “Not a single country in the entire world has a section 18C.”

He said it was “deeply offensive and insulting” for Labor and Greens senators to suggest he supported weakening race hate laws because he was a white man.

Labor frontbencher Tony Burke who represents one of ‘s most multicultural seats in Sydney’s southwest suburbs told Fairfax Media the defeat of the bill was a victory for anyone who had experienced racism in .

“This win will be felt by anyone who has experienced racism and knows that racism is more than just words,” he said.

“Those who attempted to trivialise the damage caused by racist hate speech should hear this message and find a cause that doesn’t give licence for insults, offence and humiliation.”

Conservative Senator Cory Bernardi said he was disappointed with the result and questioned whether the government’s heart was really in it.

“The process has all the hallmarks of a tricky deal having been agreed between the government and Labor party,” he said.

“This is just lip service, the government wants to get the process changes through. The cost of that deal is no substantive reform to section 18c but who knows what the government will get in return?

“It appears the government’s intention was merely to tick and box and say ‘we tried let’s move along.’

“There was never any serious commitment to meaningful change.

“I suspect that harass was so poorly drafted that it was set up to fail,” just like last time,” he said.

A spokesman for Labor’s Penny Wong said Senator Bernardi’s claim was “categorically not true” backing the Attorney-General’s denial.

The previous coalition government led by Tony Abbott proposed a radical rewrite of the act that sparked a furious backlash amongst ethnic groups.

That triggered Mr Abbott, the then prime minister, to abandon the reform as he sought the Muslim community’s support for stronger counter-terror laws.

Senator Brandis’ defence of that proposal, with his infamous “people have the right to be bigots” speech, was considered one of the factors in why the change failed to generate any broad support within the community.

The free-market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs urged the Coalition to take to the next election a policy to amend the section 18C.

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