Agenda items


Australian Business Register Advisory Board agendas, minutes and related papers are not binding on the Australian Business Register, Tax Office or any of the other bodies referred to in these papers. While every effort is made to accurately record views expressed, the wording necessarily represents a summary of statements of general position only, and care should be taken in interpreting those statements. These papers reflect the position at the date of release (unless otherwise noted) and readers should note that the position on any issue may subsequently change.

1. Introduction: Welcome

Deputy Registrar, Mark Jackson welcomed members to the meeting. Mr Jackson also welcomed the new Registrar, Chris Jordan who was attending the meeting via video conference. The Registrar apologised for not being able to attend in person and was looking forward to working with members. The Registrar asked the Deputy Registrar to run the meeting in his absence.

Mr Roger Arwas, Executive Director at Small Business Victoria, Ms Yasmin King, NSW Small Business Commissioner and Dr Stein Helgeby, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Finance and Deregulation were all welcomed as new Advisory Board members.

Apologies were received from Mr Greg Tanzer, (Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)), Ms Malisa Golightly (Department of Human Services) and Mr Adrian Beresford-Wylie (Australian Local Government Association).

Mr Jackson also welcomed Ms Liesl McKay attending as Mr Tanzer’s representative and Ms Alice Jones who represented Ms Golightly.

2. Confirm minutes/previous action items

Members reviewed the minutes of the ABR Advisory Board meeting held on 2 October 2012. Ms Weston asked that the minutes be amended to reflect that the VANguard system has been specifically designed to isolate agencies from having to develop backend solutions to cater for the range of credentials available. The Australian Business Account (ABA) for example currently supports two credential types (username/password and the AUSkey) for authentication via VANguard. Both credential types are linked to a single ABA identity. The inclusion of this capability did not incur significant cost.

The Minutes will be amended to include the comments from Ms Weston.

The meeting endorsed the minutes pending the changes above, The meeting reviewed the progress of the previous action items.

ABRAB/1012-01 – Ongoing

Assistant Registrar, Trisha Clarke provided an update on the action item to form a working group to review gaps from the recent gap analysis undertaken between the ABS’ suggested ideal register and the Australian Business Register. The Assistant Registrar advised that while a working group had not met, the work to be undertaken following the recent Federal Budget announcement (to be discussed under Agenda Item 3) would help make further improvements to the ABR.

It was agreed to close the action item.

ABRAB/1012-02 – Complete

The Deputy Registrar advised the meeting that he had raised the issue of business engagement with the ABR Advisory Board with Advisory Board members during the pre meeting briefing sessions.

It was also recognised that NSW Small Business Commissioner, Ms King, joining the Board would also inject small business perspective into the meeting.

Mr Ewing reiterated that at the previous meeting, Ms Weston had advised that the Department of Innovation, Industry, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE) had a number of business forums including a Small Business Advisory Committee which could be appropriate forums to participate in to ensure engagement. Ms Weston agreed and suggested that the new Commonwealth Small Business Commissioner could be invited to attend the ABR Advisory Board from time to time as well.

The action item was closed.

ABRAB/1012-03 – Complete

The Deputy Registrar advised that the action item relating to AUSkey would be addressed under Agenda item 9 – AUSkey Future Direction.

ABRAB/1012-04 – Complete

Ms Owens was invited to participate and will be presenting an item on the progress of discussions with the PSMA under Agenda item 4.

ABRAB/1012-05 – Complete

The Deputy Registrar reported that Mr Beresford-Wylie had advised that state governments and local councils provide information to the PSMA and in return they are provided with the ability to access the GNAF system. The Deputy Registrar also advised that ABR staff had made similar enquiries and it was not clear if all councils have access to the information.

The issue will be discussed further under Agenda item 4.

ABRAB/1012-06 – Complete

ABR Senior Director, Mano Georgopolous joined the meeting to advise members of the branching information which was going to be captured in the Register. This information included the geocoded address (ie latitude and longitude), main industry type and contact details for each branch of a business. This information will be captured at the point of registration for new registrations.

For existing registrations it was recognised that a small number of business have a large number of branches. It is planned to approach the top 200 businesses and ask them to provide the information in bulk electronically so it can be included in the Register.

The Deputy Registrar reiterated that the majority of businesses won’t be impacted by the work and it won’t be a large impost on businesses who will be asked to assist with providing information.

Several members expressed disappointment that information on employment wasn’t being considered. It was suggested that including information on the number of employees by range (ie 1-2, 100-500 etc) would be useful.

There was also discussion around whether the information could be obtained from another source eg tax data. The Deputy Registrar agreed that the issue should be investigated and the information reported back to the next meeting.

Action item:



That a report be prepared advising whether it is possible to source information on the number of employees businesses have from other agencies. The paper should consider the technical and legal implications and also investigate options for sourcing the information from other avenues.

Due Date:

Next Meeting


Assistant Registrar

ABRAB/0205-01 – Complete

The Assistant Registrar advised that since the October Advisory Board meeting the working group had continued to meet and had established that the task of developing a map detailing the natural interaction points between the ABR and other agencies was in fact an enormous task.

It was agreed that the work would be scaled down to four agencies – ASIC, ATO, Customs and the ABR.

A paper was presented to the meeting detailing the work and the meeting noted the content and conclusions contained in the paper.

It was noted that page 15 of attachment A of the paper included a data element “Estimated number of employees”.

Action item:



The Assistant Registrar to establish if the information included in Attachment A of the “ABR Data Sharing Opportunities” paper which indicates that data is collected on the number of employees is correct.

Due Date:



Assistant Registrar

The issue of the focus of the working groups paper was raised by members and it was suggested that the original intent of the work may have been missed. Ie to identify interactions points and potential sources of data to inform the ABR.

The Deputy Registrar suggested that the paper be revisited by the working group.

Action item:



The paper on ABR data sharing opportunities be reviewed by the working group to ensure it met the intent of the original action item “A map be produced detailing points of natural interaction with government to facilitate updating of the ABR”

Due Date:

Next meeting


Assistant Registrar

The action item was closed.

ABRAB/0205-02 – Complete

Ms Clarke reminded members that at the May 2012 ABR Advisory Board meeting she took an action item to undertake a cost benefit analysis based on initiatives underway at the Auburn City Council to help quantify how the Council uses the ABR information they receive.

The result of the analysis was that considerable savings had been identified. These savings could then be subsequently reinvested by local councils into infrastructure and other projects in their jurisdictions.

A paper setting out the methodology and calculation of the savings available was provided.

The action item was closed.

3. Budget Announcement

The Deputy Registrar advised that the Federal Government had announced funding for three initiatives for the ABR under the banner of “Reducing Business Costs”.

The three projects will focus on:

  • Further enhancements to the ABR through:
    • Developing a phoenixing ‘watch list’ – to help reduce phoenxing activity at the front end
    • Tightening eligibility tests and expanding the entitlement tool to be available for all entities to check whether they are eligible for an ABN
    • Enhancing the ABN application process to reduce compliance costs and improve the accuracy of the register by validating all ABN data fields at the time of application
    • Introducing an authorisation model which will allow business representatives with an AUSkey to access, view or edit their ABN information.
  • Transitioning the ATOs Electronic Lodgment Service to SBR from 1 July 2015
  • Supporting adoption of SBR

The Deputy Registrar made a commitment to keep members informed of the progress of the budget initiative throughout 2013-14.

4. Update on discussions with PSMA

Ms Helen Owens from the Office of Spatial Policy at the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism joined the meeting to update members on the progress of negotiations with the Public Sector Mapping Agency (PSMA) for a whole of government license for the GNAF system.

Ms Owens advised that since she attended the Advisory Board meeting last there had been significant progress in negotiating a whole of government GNAF licence with the PSMA.

There had been plans for the initiative to be put forward as a new policy proposal however discussions around what was and wasn’t to be included in the licence as well as ensuring due diligence had meant the proposal wasn’t put forward for this round.

At present work is progressing on ensuring due diligence, and administrative arrangements of a new policy proposal.

Ms Owens also advised that Mano Georgopolous from the ABR is currently negotiating with PSMA for a licence to geocode the ABR data. A proviso has been included in the contract that if a whole of government licence is successfully negotiated during the term of the ABR contract arrangement, that the ABR contract will be rolled into the whole of government contract on a pro rata basis.

Mr Georgopolous added that he is currently working with a third party distributor on the terms of the contract.

The Deputy Registrar thanked Ms Owens and Mr Georgopolous for updating the meeting on the progress of this important work.

5. ABS Statistical Spatial Framework

Mr Ian Ewing briefly presented the meeting with information on the Statistical Spatial Framework (SSF) program is currently being developed through the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The ABS is currently developing the SSF to provide a common approach to connecting spatially enabled data.

It is hoped that the approach will result in similar frameworks being implemented in other countries.

The value of the data would be demonstrated in agenda item 8 on the work the ABR are doing to respond to natural disasters.

The Deputy Registrar noted that spatially enabled data is a powerful tool for policy development and the ABR team are also working with the Department of Human services to ensure that our systems are compatible.

The Deputy Registrar thanked Mr Ewing for providing information of the Framework to the meeting.

6. ABR Website

Senior Director, Towards a Better Business Future, Reece Parry joined the meeting to provide an update on the work to develop a new ABR website.

The program of work was part of the 2012 Federal Budget funding for the “Towards a Better Business Future” initiative.

The new website will be more user friendly than the current transactional ABR Website and will make it easier for users to find answers to their questions and improve the overall online experience for users.

The website will also see a new, easy to use navigation including segments for different types of users and a separate entry point for AUSkey applications. The new site will also use the new ABR branding colours and styles and include the “mega footer” at the bottom of the page consistent with most Australian Government agency websites.

The new site will also use a Content Management System (CMS) platform which will make it easier for content to be uploaded and updated.

The website is due to go live on 30 November 2013.

Mr Parry introduced Ms Natasha Bartlett to present a preview of the ABR search tool which will be available through the new website.

7. ABR Data Delivery project

Ms Bartlett was welcomed to the meeting and provided the meeting with a demonstration of the ABR Search tools which will be one of the features of the new ABR website when it goes live in November 2013.

The search tool will provide ABR partner agencies with easy access to ABR data. At present partner agencies are provided with ABR data in a tab delimited format which is cumbersome to use and required the data to be heavily filtered before agencies can obtain the information they are searching for. For larger agencies the files were also very large which made them difficult to use.

The new tool will allow agencies to access information in the following formats:

  • List – allows user to use data to create mail merges
  • Map – overlays business information such as industry information
  • Graphical – printable and downloadable

This section of the website will feature secure login using AUSkey and flexible search options for users.

Ms Bartlett confirmed that the information will still be sent to partner agencies in the current format as well as providing the new online function.

Ms Bartlett introduced Ms Sandee Harris from the ABR team to demonstrate the information which will be available on the website for government agencies impacted natural disasters.

8. Natural Disaster response project

Ms Harris was welcomed to the meeting to present a preview of the ABR Disaster Response and Recovery tool which will be available to Government partner agencies through the Government tab on the ABR website.

ABR data was used by Government agencies to assist with the response to the ‘Black Saturday” bushfires in 2009 and the Queensland floods and Tasmanian bushfires in January this year.

The Natural Disaster response project will deliver a program which will ensure extra support and ease of access for government agencies by providing:

  • email notifications
  • web site banner notifications
  • phone contact to key emergency/disaster agencies
  • online data access via “ABR search”
  • disaster support searches

The website will allow agencies in impacted areas to perform a disaster event search or a quick search whereby all fields are prepopulated and the user only needs to add the location for the search to be performed.

Ms King commented that she was happy to see the data search and disaster recover work being included from the beginning and how easy to use it was.

The meeting thanked Mr Parry, Ms Bartlett and Ms Harris for presenting these important initiatives and confirmed they were happy with the approach being taken and for the initiatives to proceed.

9. AUSkey

Mr Andrew Rose, Senior Director, AUSkey, joined the meeting to discuss AUSkey and provide members with an update on current issues.

The key issues for AUSkey at present include:

  • Better assurance for the Evidence of identity (EOI) process.
  • Greater assurance for businesses on managing and using AUSkey, and
  • Keeping pace with technology
  • AUSkeys suitability for broader use across Government services and seeking assurance under the “general” category Gatekeeper accreditation for this extension.

Mr Rose noted that to increase the use of AUSkey across businesses and agencies, AUSkey needs to explore options to provide a stronger solution that is more forward-compatible.

Mr Rose noted the growing adoption of mobile and new technologies such as tablets, smart phone and other mobile devices. Any changes made to the AUSkey design in the near future would need to address the growing drive for other technologies and the growth and change in security, software and general IT hardware.

One of the barriers to broader adoption of AUSkey by government agencies is a lack of confidence in identity assurance processes for users when registering for an AUSkey. A recent identity theft issue has further highlighted that this process needs considered review to reduce the opportunity of fraudulent acquisition of an AUSkey and address any currently perceived weakness in the AUSkey solution.

Examples of potential options under investigation are the integration to other whole of government identity verification services, other multi factor solutions such as SMS, alignment to other identity checks for known risks or compromise and periodic EOI refresh to affirm an identity.

It was noted that there is potential to consider the future integration of AUSkey identity assurance with the delivery of the Reliance Framework and MyGov as a single authoritive source for identity assurance.

In relation to business and agency assurance Mr Rose noted that they are currently reviewing options to provide for business a ‘trigger’ event or security notifications that will remind business to review and update their AUSkey users on a regular basis to help ensure the security of the services people are trying to access and that the business exercises some controls over users representing the business.

The AUSkey system recently received Gatekeeper accreditation in the ‘special’ category. With the expanding use of AUSkey by government agencies for a growing number of their online services Mr Rose noted that accreditation for general purpose may need to investigated further.

Dr Helgeby noted concerns that should AUSkey be considered the preferred authentication credential for business to government services into the future, it has a low assurance (NeAF 3). Dr Helgeby suggested that the design concepts and consultation on issues be referred to the Authentication Governance Committee chaired by AGIMO and discussion include the AGIMO Identity team.

The Deputy Registrar noted that the ABR (and ATO) has a representative on the AGC. It was proposed to take the concepts and consult on design proposals to the AGC and possibly then on to the Secretaries IT Governance Board (SIGB) if the ABR Advisory Board were happy for the issues to be progressed.

Ms King noted that the NSW Government had recently moved to a cloud based Google platform and asked if it was worth looking at for a future solution. Ms King also added that in her experience many small businesses don’t use computers but use smart phones and tablets as the preferred platform.

Mr Rose noted that the team are currently exploring AUSkey for other devices. This is included in the advancement of the solution’s infrastructure and technology to better support the adopting agency’s user preferences for online services access.

Ms McKay added that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will be implementing AUSkey later this year and it was pleasing to see improvements to the system being discussed and explored.

The Deputy Registrar thanked Mr Rose for attending the meeting to provide an update on the important work being undertaken in relation to AUSkey.

10. ABR Update

Due to time constraints, Ms Clarke provided the meeting with a brief update on the ABR program of work and their achievements this year.

Through the TBBF initiative 24,000 desk reviews had been conducted and 16,000 ABNs had been cancelled as a result.

The bulk Registrar Initiated Cancellation (BRIC) program had also cancelled 221,000 ABNs to date.

Ms Clarke also advised that four ABS staff had recently been out posted to the ABR to look at how we can get better ANZSIC coding data. At present registrants can type any information into the field for industry type and this will be changed to drop down boxes. This will help ensure the integrity of the information entered into this field by future registrants.

The Deputy Registrar noted that Members has also been given a verbal update at the pre-meeting briefings in relation to work underway by the ABR team and thanked Ms Clarke for providing the brief update.

11. Other Business

The Registrar thanked members for attending the meeting.

The next Advisory Board Meeting is scheduled for October 2013. The two preferred dates are:

  • Wednesday 9 October 2013 or
  • Thursday 31 October 2013

Details: 2pm to 5pm,

Venue: McKay Boardroom, level 10, 26 Narellan Street, Civic, Canberra, ACT.

There being no further business the meeting closed at 5.10pm

    Last modified: 31 May 2013QC 38301