#3 Changes in legislation and regulation

Changes in law are ranked as the number three business risk in Australia and number 5 globally.

Globally, changes in protectionism and trade barriers are seen as significant. On the domestic front, changes in regulation and the burden of regulatory compliance represent an ever-growing business risk and cost. The costs of non-compliance extend far beyond business disruption and contract/project default, with significant corporate and Executive liability a recurring feature of the new compliance regimes introduced in a number of major sectors in Australia. Key changes taking effect this year include the following.

Data & Privacy

Final preparations are currently underway for the introduction of the Federal Government's new mandatory breach notification laws that are set to commence on 22 February. Read more from our team about how to prepare for the notifiable data breach scheme here. Another key privacy date this year will be the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25 May which requires many Australian businesses to reconsider the way they process, store and protect personal information. Read more about this here.


Significantly tougher Heavy Vehicle National Laws are due to be in place by mid-2018. These will feature a substantial increase in maximum penalties for Chain of Responsibility breaches to $3 million for corporations and $300,000 plus up to five years' imprisonment for individuals. Read our month-by-month guide to preparing for these new laws here.

Proposed critical infrastructure security laws have been tabled which will require owners and operators of such assets, including designated assets in the electricity, water and ports sectors, need to take proactive steps to ensure the security of those assets, including by implementing cybersecurity protections. See our summary here.

Further changes to Australia's coastal shipping regime have been tabled which are expected to liberalise the conduct of Australian coastal shipping, in particular for foreign shipping companies conducting such trade. Read more about this here.

Planning & Environment

This year will continue to see the roll-out of some recently introduced and reformed environmental legislation in NSW: the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Act 2017. See our outline of the key changes, and at what stage they will be taking effect here.

Building & Construction

Following recent Australian and international building product failures and disasters, various Australian jurisdictions have introduced legislation aimed at unsafe or non-complying building products. These new laws introduce the concept of a shared chain of responsibility to ensure the safety of building products, which will be enforced against the domestic parties designing, importing, supplying or installing those products. More details can be found here and here.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.