Business Advice

Belle Gibson fined $410,000 for breaches of consumer law … SMEs divided on parental leave levy idea … ATO explains latest systems outage

Emma Koehn /

Wellness blogger Belle Gibson has been ordered by the Federal Court to pay $410,000 for breaches of Australian Consumer Law, after making claims about curing cancer with natural remedies.

Fairfax reports Gibson was not in court on Thursday when Justice Debbie Mortimer handed down the penalties. The court decided in March 2017 that consumers were misled by claims around the promotion of Gibson’s book and charitable donations.

The fines include two $90,000 penalties for claims made about Gibson’s app and charitable donations; $50,000 for claims about donations related to her app launch; $150,000 for claims about donations being made to the Schwarz family from her app sales; and $30,000 in relation to donation claims around a Mother’s Day promotion run by Gibson.

Divide on support for parental leave levy idea

MYOB’s latest business monitor survey suggests close to a quarter of SMEs would vote against any party that suggested a paid parental leave levy for businesses with a turnover of $5 million or more.

However, MYOB chief executive Tim Reed says there is a divide across the generations on the parental leave issue, with 45% of Generation Y business owners surveyed reporting they would support a political party that rolled out a paid parental leave scheme, even if it levied businesses for this.

“This finding highlights the importance of a work-life balance for younger business owners. As younger generations come into the workforce and begin to start businesses, this trend is likely to increase,” Reed said in a statement.

ATO says systems on the mend

The Australian Taxation Office has released an update about its technology platforms after another services outage at the start of the week, explaining portals were voluntarily taken offline when system issues were noticed following a scheduled upgrade on the weekend.

Second Commissioner of Taxation Ramez Katf said despite the disruptions, “pleasingly, most tax agents were still able to complete and lodge returns through the Practitioner Lodgement Service during this time”.

The tax office says it’s in constant communications with stakeholders about systems performance, and thanked the public in a statement for their patience with systems issues.

The ATO claims to have put the concerns of the last year behind it, and says it will now focus on a project to “modernise and refresh the Tax and BAS Agent Portal to better meet the needs of the tax profession”.

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is SmartCompany's senior journalist.

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