Insight

The Antipodean Advantage

As the pandemic recedes, Australia remains one of the best countries in which to invest. The commercial law experts at Piper Alderman review the country’s advantages when it comes to outside money looking for outsized returns.

Man pointing to cave wall
GG

Gordon Grieve and Tony Britten-Jones

September 30, 2022 12:00 AM

The pandemic plunged the world into economic crisis—yet more than two years later, Australia has regained its luster as one of the world’s top places to do business. The country’s resilient financial system, paired with sound policies, sensible regulations and a highly educated workforce, offer investors a promising environment in which to gain returns.

The 2022 edition of Piper Alderman’s Doing Business in Australia guide highlights the country’s boundless opportunities, which stem in part from its excellent legal framework and strategic location. Proximity to the Asia-Pacific region, and steady relations with China, Japan, the United States, Singapore and the United Kingdom, further boost Australia’s business bona fides as well.

The country is a major exporter of gold, iron ore, coal, natural gas and beef; its massive resources efficiently support the production and processing of basic commodities. Energy and petroleum development is a key government strategy as it aims to meet local energy needs yet also benefit from exports. (Major imports include cars, refined petroleum, telecom equipment, freight services and computers.) Mining regulations vary by territory; Australia is investing in renewable energy to hit its greenhouse-gas reduction targets.

Australia’s extensive road and rail network, air and maritime transport, are economically vital, supporting (among much else) tourism, a booming sector responsible for about 3% of GDP. After a pandemic-induced dip, international tourists are now returning to enjoy the country’s natural beauty, relaxed lifestyle and friendly atmosphere. Australia’s highly stable parliamentary democracy offers a political environment conducive to business; state and local governments are mostly left alone to manage their own affairs.

Importantly, the efficient, transparent financial sector is a business catalyst as well. Modern infrastructure and thoughtful regulations make Australia the center for capital markets activity in the Asia-Pacific region. To boost foreign investment, successive governments have replaced protectionist policies with free-trade agreements.

Fintech companies play an increasingly big role as well, their operations streamlined by government collaboration with investors, regulators and educational institutions. Pro-business incentives have revolutionized the financial sector, and authorities are working hard to address regulatory gaps.

Its massive resources efficiently support the production and processing of basic commodities."

Australian law provides for alternative approaches to resolving disagreements outside the courts, a comprehensive dispute-resolution system—seen in (among other legislation) the Cross-Border Insolvency Act (2008), which harmonized and eased the management of business insolvency and bankruptcy.

Regulation to promulgate competition and fair dealing is outlined clearly in the federal constitution. Contract regulation, supervision of financial-service institutions and tax compliance both support businesses and safeguard consumers—laws that align with global trends in business legislation.

A variety of commissions and boards regulate various aspects of commercial activity. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), for example, supervises compliance with competition, fair-trading and consumer laws. The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approves and reviews certain classes of outside investments, while the Reserve Bank of Australia oversees/regulates companies offering digital/online payment system services.

As our Doing Business guide shows, Australia promotes foreign investment. An open economy makes accommodating foreign investors easy, generating wealth, and expanding growth opportunities across the economy. The Australian Trade Commission (ATC) helps international companies establish operations here, giving investors information about the business environment (including opportunities in different sectors) and helping them identify suitable locations and potential partners. It also offers guidance on industry-development programs and government approvals.

All this makes foreign investment easy and acquisitions seamless. The Australian government has built strong legislative instruments, foreign policies and national-security measures to safeguard the country from unscrupulous and outright illegal businesses; legal and policy frameworks clearly outline noncompliance penalties to guide outside investors.

The law permits a variety of corporate structures; selecting one depends on factors like the relationship between partners, the nature of the business and the significance and degree of risks and liabilities. When forming a company, investors must also consider the regulatory and tax requirements of business transactions. Common structures here include sole trader, proprietary company, public company, registered foreign company, joint venture, trust and partnership. All have diverse limitations and regulatory requirements on ownership, management and taxation, among other issues. Businesses that require land or property to operate can acquire it through leasehold or freehold transactions overseen by FIRB when a foreign entity is involved.

Employment law is of course a crucial factor. Investors must understand that Australian law protects workers, requiring (among other things) that employers must pay pension funds for workers. They should also obtain workers’-compensation insurance to provide benefits to injured employees.

Other key employment matters include providing working parents with up to 18 weeks of paid parental leave; they are also entitled to up to two years of unpaid parental leave. Workers have legal means to challenge what they regard as unfair termination as well.

Australian immigration laws promote diversity. Reforms have been introduced at the federal level to encourage business migration, making it easier for investors to enter the country. Incentives in this area include the Business Talent Visa and Investor Visa, both designed specifically for business immigrants.

As a hub of innovation, Australia leads the way on protecting intellectual property such as artistic works, software, trademarks and designs, particularly through the Copyright Act (1968) and Designs Act (2003). Innovative, creative people thrive in such conditions.

Incentives for the digital economy abound as well. E-commerce has grown in tandem with increased connectivity: With more than 22 million internet users in Australia (85% of the population), investing in the digital economy provides immense potential benefits. The government takes privacy and security in this realm extremely seriously as well, with laws to curb money laundering, online fraud and more.

The country’s Criminal Code Act (1995) deals with corruption and bribery, discouraging companies and investors from using underhanded methods in their everyday dealings. Corruption commissions are in place to investigate any potentially problematic behavior by organizations or officials.

Regarding another vitally important economic sector, the Therapeutic Goods Act (1989) regulates businesses dealing with medicines, medical equipment, vaccines, sunscreens and cosmetics. Local laws ensure that companies involved with these products maintain the strongest ethical standards—and enjoy substantial legal protection as a result.

In all, Australia has become a leading investment destination—a Pacific oasis of innovation and entrepreneurship governed by smart regulations that streamline and support business investments of all kinds. Commercial law experts like those at Piper Alderman can help individuals and corporations navigate these regulations and maximize the opportunities, so abundant in Australia, for successful investment.

Tony is Piper Alderman’s managing partner and co-head of the International Group. He specializes in commercial property and has particular expertise acting in relation to retail and office developments, residential and mixed-use projects, commercial tenancies, community and strata title matters. Tony was named Adelaide “Lawyer of the Year” in Leasing Law in the 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in Australia™ and has been recognized every year by Best Lawyers for Real Property Law since 2012, including being named Adelaide “Lawyer of the Year” in the 2013 edition for Real Property Law.

Gordon Grieve is Chairman of Partners, former managing partner and former Head of Dispute Resolution & Litigation at Piper Alderman. He also heads up the firms Energy & Resources and International Groups. He has high level experience in both the private and public sectors across all facets of major corporate transactions and commercial litigation. Gordon is recognized for Energy Law in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in Australia™.

Headline Image: ISTOCK/TonyFeder

Related Articles

It’s Official: Options for Challenging “Official Marks” in Canada


by Jamie-Lynn Kraft and Philip Lapin

“Official marks” are a strangely obscure corner of Canadian intellectual-property law. What are they, what explains their strength and what can a business owner in search of a trademark do to challenge them?

Two griffins on royal crest

Latinflation


by Alejandra Daroch, Domingo Russi and Jaime Carey Astaburuaga

Long a beacon of economic stability in South America, Chile has been buffeted lately by the global rise in inflation. Can a key element of its monetary policy help it weather the storm?

Waves crashing into lighthouse

Hobbling the War Machine


by Shawn C.D. Neylan

Since late spring, the Canadian government has been actively sanctioning business and political entities, as well as numerous individuals, with alleged ties to Vladimir Putin and the Russian military, including some in Belarus. You can’t tell the players without a scorecard—so here’s an overview.

Military tank with prohibited symbol

Growing Canadian Business Abroad


by Didier Culat

Canadian entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses beyond the geographic confines of their home dominion must consider a vast range of questions to ensure they’re fit to branch out. Here’s a quick primer.

Green arrows rising with Canada in backdrop

The Carbon Conundrum


by Martin Hamer and Natalie Kopplow

Companies that trade internationally might soon face a “carbon tariff” when importing certain goods into the European Union. Why is the EU doing this—and how will it affect world trade?

Power plant billowing smoke

Competitive Balance


by David Feldman and Peter Flynn

Major amendments to Canada’s Competition Act were rushed through Parliament this June with scarcely any debate. They will likely have enormous antitrust ramifications—and businesses had better be ready.

Blaring megaphone sounds the alarm

Rental House of Cards


by Tyler D’Angelo

The pandemic devastated uncountable businesses worldwide. A recent court case involving some of Canada’s most venerable companies and pension funds sheds light on the stringency of the country’s commercial leases—and the judiciary’s reluctance to meddle in sophisticated commercial contracts amid a “black swan” event.

Toppling house of cards

The Future of Trade is Digital


by Alan de Rochefort-Reynolds, Daniel Allman and Jo Feldman

Digital information increasingly drives bilateral and multilateral trade throughout the Indo-Pacific region. It behooves countries to devise agreements governing the use and exchange of the enormous amounts of vital data generated every day.

Neon colored boxes in circle with black background

IN PARTNERSHIP

Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident in Brentwood, TN?


by Harlene Labrum

Learn whether you should hire a lawyer after a car accident lawyer in Brentwood, TN. Contact Labrum Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.

Road caution sign in front of two wrecked cars

IN PARTNERSHIP

What Will a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer Actually Do for You?


by Adam Zayed

Personal injury lawyer Adam Zayed explains the important steps a Chicago car accident lawyer will take to ensure you receive the best legal representation.

Blurry image of fast moving traffic in big city

How Palworld Is Testing the Limits of Nintendo’s Legal Power


by Gregory Sirico

Many are calling the new game Palworld “Pokémon GO with guns,” noting the games striking similarities. Experts speculate how Nintendo could take legal action.

Animated figures with guns stand on top of creatures

How Much Is a Lawyer Consultation Fee?


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers breaks down the key differences between consultation and retainer fees when hiring an attorney, a crucial first step in the legal process.

Client consulting with lawyer wearing a suit

How To Find A Pro Bono Lawyer


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers dives into the vital role pro bono lawyers play in ensuring access to justice for all and the transformative impact they have on communities.

Hands joined around a table with phone, paper, pen and glasses

IN PARTNERSHIP

Knowing When to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer


by Muhammad Ramadan

Chicago personal injury lawyer Muhammad Ramadan offers advice on how to know when to hire a lawyer after you have been involved in a car accident.

White and grey cars crashed together with man standing between them

IN PARTNERSHIP

How to Protect Your Inheritance from Divorce in Ontario


by Usman Sadiq

One lawyer in Canada explains that, although division of assets does not always have to be evenly split, it should be fair, and inheritance is no exception.

Small grey house with red roof under large red umbrella on blue background

IN PARTNERSHIP

What Are the Stages of a Criminal Case in California?


by Nafiz M. Ahmed

Criminal cases in California must follow proper procedures in court. One lawyer outlines each stage of a criminal case to offer guidance to all involved.

Person in grey sweatshirt with hands behind back in handcuffs being arrested by cop

Trending Articles

How Palworld Is Testing the Limits of Nintendo’s Legal Power


by Gregory Sirico

Many are calling the new game Palworld “Pokémon GO with guns,” noting the games striking similarities. Experts speculate how Nintendo could take legal action.

Animated figures with guns stand on top of creatures

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees


by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

The U.S. Best Lawyers Voting Season Is Open


by Best Lawyers

The voting season for the 31st edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and the 5th edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America is officially underway, and we are offering some helpful advice to this year’s voters.

Golden figures of people standing on blue surface connected by white lines

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

How To Find A Pro Bono Lawyer


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers dives into the vital role pro bono lawyers play in ensuring access to justice for all and the transformative impact they have on communities.

Hands joined around a table with phone, paper, pen and glasses

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom


by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

2021 Best Lawyers: The Global Issue


by Best Lawyers

The 2021 Global Issue features top legal talent from the most recent editions of Best Lawyers and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch worldwide.

2021 Best Lawyers: The Global Issue

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023


by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

The Upcycle Conundrum


by Karen Kreider Gaunt

Laudable or litigious? What you need to know about potential copyright and trademark infringement when repurposing products.

Repurposed Products and Copyright Infringemen

The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2024 Launch


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is excited to announce The Best Lawyers in Australia™ for 2023, including the top lawyers and law firms from Australia.

Australian Parliament beside water at sunset

Best Lawyers Voting Is Now Open


by Best Lawyers

Voting has begun in several countries across the globe, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Below we offer dates, details and answers to voting-related questions to assist with the voting process.

Hands holding smartphone with five stars above phone

Inflation Escalation


by Ashley S. Wagner

Inflation and rising costs are at the forefront of everyone’s mind as we enter 2023. The current volatile market makes it more important than ever to understand the rent escalation clauses in current and future commercial lease agreements.

Suited figure in front of rising market and inflated balloon

Wage and Overtime Laws for Truck Drivers


by Greg Mansell

For truck drivers nationwide, underpayment and overtime violations are just the beginning of a long list of problems. Below we explore the wages you are entitled to but may not be receiving.

Truck Driver Wage and Overtime Laws in the US

A Celebration of Excellence: The Best Lawyers in Canada 2024 Awards


by Best Lawyers

As we embark on the 18th edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada™, we are excited to highlight excellence and top legal talent across the country.

Abstract image of red and white Canada flag in triangles

Announcing The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ 2024


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is excited to announce the landmark 15th edition of The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ for 2024, including the exclusive "Law Firm of the Year" awards.

Sky view of South Africa town and waterways

Presenting the 2024 Best Lawyers Family Law Legal Guide


by Best Lawyers

The 2024 Best Lawyers Family Law Legal Guide is now live and includes recognitions for all Best Lawyers family law awards. Read below and explore the legal guide.

Man entering home and hugging two children in doorway