Newsletter 152

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Citizenship application for New Zealand applicants 

From July 1, 2023, some New Zealanders with Special Category (subclass 444) visas are subject to changes in eligibility. Make sure you are eligible. 

Important: When submitting an online application, make sure to include your New Zealand citizenship in the “Citizenship details” area on the “Applicant details” page of the form. This will guarantee that your application is submitted in accordance with the proper criteria, enabling you to submit it online.

All candidates for Citizenship through Conferral

Department is getting more requests than normal for information on international travel movement. An estimated date will be allowed when entering your travel dates, dates of first arrival, or dates of visa issuance; a processing officer will check exact dates in our systems as needed after you submit your application.

Australian citizenship fees increased

For applications submitted on or after 1 July 2023, new application fees will be charged.

The Department’s webpage lists the fees.

ATO – Passenger movements data-matching program 

From 2023 through 2025, the ATO will obtain passenger movement information from the Department of Home Affairs. 

In order to identify taxpayers who can be given specialised information to help them fulfil their tax and superannuation responsibilities or to ensure compliance with taxation and superannuation rules, this information will be accessed and electronically matched with certain parts of ATO data holdings.

The following notice from the Commissioner of Taxation on a programme to match passenger travel data was published in the Government Gazette on July 14, 2023. 

Jobs and Skills Councils 

The JSC are business-owned and business-led organisations that will provide strategic leadership in addressing skills and workforce challenges. They will coordinate efforts across industries to increase system responsiveness, foster stakeholder confidence, and promote high-quality outcomes for the VET sector, learners, and business.

These are the nine JSCs:

A tenth JSC will become operational shortly 

  •  Building, Construction and Property – a new entity, BuildSkills Australia, has been established and will be operational in the coming months. 

Landmark class action, unjust charges involved in ex-solicitor’s proceedings

In proceedings involving erroneous fraud allegations and a historic class action against a bankrupt insurer, an ex-solicitor who had his name removed from the roll has taken on his former solicitor.

An investigation into the inner workings of a trust account maintained by attorney Marcel Joukhador to obtain $2,382,000 from the winning HIH Insurance class action is being conducted by DC Legal, a company founded by former lawyer Bruce Dennis.

How that settlement money was divided is at the heart of the current litigation in the NSW Supreme Court.  

At the time the class action began, Mr Joukhador worked with firm Thomas Booler Lawyers but made a move to his current firm, Harrow Legal, after NSW Supreme Court Justice Paul Brereton made a landmark ruling in favour of the HIH plaintiffs in April 2016. 

He was the principal of Harrow Legal when the money was received. 

Mr Dennis was retained in 2001 to act for certain HIH shareholders who had acquired shares in circumstances that allegedly involved a market affected by misrepresentation. Mr Joukhador acted for shareholders in proceedings that ran alongside it. 

Mr Dennis has not held a practising certificate since June 2015, and orders were made in 2016 to remove his name from the roll. DC Legal has not had any active clients since 2015. 

Running alongside this dispute is a cross-claim brought by Mr Joukhador seeking a payment of $381,980 that he alleges was an overpayment of monies paid by him to DC Legal. 

The proceedings have been stayed until DC Legal pays a security sum of $91,764 and costs to Mr Joukhador and Harrow Legal. 

The matter is DC Legal Pty Ltd v Joukhador.

Victorian barristers slam Dan Andrews’ Lawyer X comments as ‘misguided, wrong’ 

38 of Victoria’s top lawyers have criticised Premier Daniel Andrews’ remarks following the closing of the Lawyer X investigation unit as “misguided, wrong, and inappropriate.”

Geoffrey Nettle, a former judge on the High Court, and Kerri Judd, the director of public prosecutions, engaged in a public spat over how to handle the Lawyer X inquiry. Mr. Andrews told The Age that Mr. Nettle was “altogether too close” to decide on criminal convictions.

Investigators “don’t make good prosecutors,” Mr. Andrews continued.

In the letter, Mr Nettle said Ms Judd was not willing to accept briefs of evidence to prosecute senior police members. 

He suggested that if the government kept the office open, it should replace him to “make way for someone whose views as to the weight of evidence required to warrant a prosecution for relevant offences more closely accorded to the director’s position”. 

In response, Ms Judd said she knocked back three of the office’s briefs “on the basis there were not reasonable prospects” of success. 

The barristers said they would not comment on this dispute between Mr Nettle and Ms Judd, but they said the statements made by Mr Andrews should “never have been made in respect of such a distinguished and well-respected jurist as Mr Nettle”. 

“They ought to be retracted and a public apology issued,” the letter read. 

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