Legal Writers Wrap Up: January 2018

Legal Writers Wrap up

It feels like Christmas was only yesterday but January has already whizzed past us. The summer recess for both Parliament and the courts means there haven’t been a lot of new developments this month. There’s always something happening, though, and we’ve rounded those changes up below.

If you’re too busy catching up to write a newsletter or blog posts, get in touch, we’d be happy to draft something for you.


There are two new vacancy charges in place. At a national level, the annual vacancy fee is levied on foreign owners of residential real estate if their property is not occupied or available to rent for at least six months in a 12 month period.  Foreign owners of residential real estate must lodge an annual vacancy fee return with the ATO.

Relevant to: Foreign owners of residential real estate

In Victoria, the Vacant Residential Property Tax (VRT) came into effect on 1 January. This tax is in addition to the national one and is levied on dwellings in Melbourne’s inner and middle suburbs that are vacant for more than six months in a calendar year. Owners were required to self-report to the SRO by 15 January 2018 or face penalties.

Relevant to: Property owners in Melbourne’s inner and middle suburbs, particularly any who may not have self-reported


Changes to the lists of eligible skilled occupations for Australia’s skilled visa programs came into effect on 17 January 2018. These changes have:

  • Added occupations to the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL)
  • Moved some occupations from the STSOL to the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
  • Removed some occupations from all lists
  • Added caveats to some occupations on the lists

Relevant to: Any business who hires workers from overseas or any foreign individual who is seeking a skilled visa in Australia


South Australian landlord and tenants are keeping an eye on the extensive changes to retail and commercial leases in the Retail and Commercial Leases (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2017, due to be recommended to the elected Government after the March 2018 election. The Bill offers a range of clarifications and protections aimed to make life easier for small businesses.

Relevant to: Most South Australian lessees and lessors


A recent decision by the Fair Work Commission, Kaseris v Rasier Pacific V.O.F, found that an Uber driver did not have an employment relationship with Uber but was an independent contractor. The decision clarifies the test in a digital gig economy.

Relevant to: Startups and other companies who utilise technology dependent revenue sharing systems, and contractors working with those companies