by Kirk Cheesman
Much has changed during 2013. The Australian dollar has dropped significantly and interest rates have continued to fall. We have a new Government which may or may not be able to implement a number of policy changes.
In September 2013, business confidence was continuing to rise but has now dropped.
So are businesses in a better place at the end of 2013 than they were at the beginning of the year? Statistics show they should be, although ICBA Australia's market intelligence shows there are still tough times ahead. The impact of the impending closure of G.M. Holden Ltd, is a signal that Australia, New Zealand and the Asia and Pacific market must continue to evolve to cater for slowdowns in manufacturing and mining.
2014 will be another significant year also because the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 will finally be implemented in March 2014. The new laws are the most significant reforms to the Privacy Act in over 20 years. This amendment will apply to the personal information of "natural persons" (sole traders, members of partnerships who are natural people, guarantors who are natural people and directors).
Changes include the introduction of more comprehensive credit reporting, which will allow the reporting of information about an individual's current credit commitments and their repayment history information over the previous two years. The new system will be accompanied by enhanced privacy protections and underpinned by a new industry-agreed code of conduct, to be called the 'CR code'. Given the increased financial penalties that apply to a failure to comply with this legislation, it is important for organisations to review and understand their obligations contained within the Privacy Act, Privacy Code and the Regulations.
What organizations will need to do:
• Provide more information to individuals when you collect their personal information
• Implement a privacy compliance program
• Change your direct marketing practices
• Review arrangements for offshore data storage or processing
As a trade credit supplier, businesses will need to tailor specific circumstances in regards to privacy. ICBA Australia will be able to assist you in obtaining legal opinion on your privacy obligations and privacy documentation. 2014 will continue to bring challenges to many of our businesses here in the Pacific; however, the staff of ICBA Australia and ICBA New Zealand look forward to continuing to develop and enhance ways to help businesses manage trade credit risks better, and avoid any nasty surprises during 2014.
(Kirk Cheesman is Managing Director of ICBA Australia and New Zealand , National Credit Insurance (Brokers) Pty Ltd and a Director of NCI Brokers (Asia) Pte Ltd.)