Apologies for ending the year with a post on the serious side, but I have recently been involved in several “proceeds of crime” matters. In that context, I came to know about a fresh round of legislative initiatives designed to curb the cash economy.
Up until then, I hadn’t heard of the Black Economy Taskforce, but it didn’t really surprise me that there was one. In its final report in October 2017, one of the high level strategies to be deployed was to move people out of cash and into the banking system. This strategy was apparent from some of the report’s recommendations which included:
- reform of the ABN system (i.e putting some form of renewal system in place);
- the introduction of a “digital credential biometrically secured” (an Australia card on steroids?);
- making payment of wages to bank accounts compulsory;
- removing tax deductibility for undocumented payments; and
- moving to a near cash free economy.
Most of those sound fairly reasonable to me.
However, in relation to that last one, I was taken aback, when I “discovered” the exposure draft of the Currency (Restrictions on the use of Cash) Bill 2019. It appears that the reporting of cash transactions (AUSTRAC) system is about to be dumped and it is about to become a crime (in some cases attracting strict liability) to enter into a cash transaction of $10,000 or more. There are exceptions.
This legislation appears to have bipartisan support and is likely to come into effect in January 2020. The public consultation period (I didn’t realise there was one) closed on 12 August. I’m really a bit puzzled about why everyone thinks this is a good idea or how this managed to escape closer scrutiny. The only time I remember seeing this in the media was Sean Micalleff poking fun at it on “Mad as Hell” and pointing out that it wouldn’t be possible to pay your $12,600 fine in cash because that would also be a crime!!
I suggest you click on the links above if you want some more details.
Creative commons acknowledgment for the photograph