• 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 noting that the new NSW Small Business Commissioner, Robyn Hobbs AO and Barry Sandison from the Department of Human Services were attending first meeting following changes in their respective organisations.

    The Deputy Registrar noted that apologies were received from the Registrar, Chris Jordan AO, Dr Stein Helgeby (Department of Finance), Roger Arwas (Small Business Victoria), Kim Salisbury (ACT Revenue Office) and Marion Grant (Australian Customs and Border Protection Service).

    The Deputy Registrar also welcomed Jane Want from the Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner and Christine Williams from the Australian Bureau of Statistics who were attending the meeting as guests.

    2. Confirm minutes/previous action items

    Members reviewed the minutes of the ABR Advisory Board meeting held on 31 October 2013 and endorsed the minutes as previously provided.

    The meeting reviewed the progress of the previous action items.

    ABRAB/1013-01 – Complete

    The Deputy Registrar reminded members to please send through contact details of relevant agency representatives to work with ABR staff on the disaster recovery program.

    The Action item was closed.

    ABRAB/1013-02 – Complete

    The Deputy Registrar advised that the work exploring the options for the establishment of a single business register would be addressed at agenda item 7.

    ABRAB/1013-03 – Complete

    The Deputy Registrar introduced Assistant Registrar, Stakeholder Engagement and Adoption, John McAlister and Senior Director, John Madelly to provide the meeting with an update on the process for information sharing between participating agencies and the Registrar for the ‘Phoenix Watchlist”

    Mr Madelly advised that since the October 2013 ABR Advisory Board meeting, legal impediments to the exchange of phoenix information under the ABN Act were identified. However it has since been established that the information is able to be collected and shared under the Tax Administration act.

    Mr Madelly also briefly touched on plans being considered to expand the program in time to include a fit and proper person test. The introduction of the test would further strengthen the registration process and allow the refusal of a registration at the time of application.

    The Deputy Registrar thanked Mr McAlister and Mr Madelly for attending and providing the update to the meeting.

    The Action item was subsequently closed.

    ABRAB/1013-04 – Complete

    The Deputy Registrar provided a brief summary of the discussion to date on the inclusion of employee numbers on the ABR.

    In terms of the process for the collection of employee number it has been confirmed that the information can be collected using business employment summaries lodged at the end of each financial year.

    Costings to have the fields included on the Register have been completed and the Registrar is now considering if the information can be included on the Register given current priorities and the budget environment.

    The Action item was closed.

    ABRAB/1013/05 – Ongoing

    The action item will be addressed at Agenda item 8 – AUSkey Update and Direction.

    3. Budget 2014-15 Update

    The Deputy Registrar provided the meeting with a brief update on the outcomes of the 2014/15 Federal Budget and impacts for the Registrar and business more broadly.

    While there were no policy announcements specifically relating to the ABR, there were a number of announcements that will have impacts for the Registrar.

    These included:

    • The ATO savings measure to reduce staffing numbers by October 2014, and
    • The announcement of the Smaller Government scoping studies which will look at future ownership options for ASICs registry functions.

    Ms Weston advised that the savings measures announced for the Department of Industry will also result in the closure or approximately 20 programs.

    4. ABR Vision Mission Statement

    Acting Assistant Registrar, Policy and Strategy Neil Tothill presented the ABR’s Vision and Strategic Direction document to the meeting.

    In creating the vision, the ABR leadership group considered:

    • what can be delivered to reduce administrative costs for business,
    • how to increase advocacy role and
    • encouraging adoption of new practices by business and how that can be used to drive efficiencies in the boarder economy.

    The meeting discussed the key performance indicators and strategies outlined in the paper. Mr Ewing noted that the document should also include a statement confirming the value of the register and the value it delivers to those who are using information held on the register for infrastructure planning, delivery of services and for emergency response.

    Ms Weston also added that the document should include reference to tools that are relied on by the Register such as the ABN Lookup and VANguard services.

    The Deputy Registrar thanked members for their contribution to the discussion.

    Action item:



    The advice from members be considered and incorporated into the next version of the ABR Vision and strategic direction document.

    Due date:



    Assistant Registrar, Policy & Strategy

    5. Disaster Response Project update

    Assistant Registrar, Strategic Engagement and Adoption, John McAlister provided the meeting with an update on the ABR’s Disaster Response Project.

    Mr McAlister advised that the project is now part of business as usual. At present staff monitor and identify natural disasters and then make contact with relevant government agencies in impacted areas to ensure they receive the information available to them.

    The meeting heard how during the recent Morewell mine fire, staff monitored the situation and were able to provide agencies with information on businesses in the areas impacted by the smoke plume.

    Mr McAlister also advised that feedback on the services provided to date had been received from agencies and is being used to make improvements to the service.

    Mr Beresford-Wylie noted that the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) will be highlighting the benefits and value of the ABR in their submission to the Productivity Commission public inquiry into Natural Disaster Funding. Mr McAlister also mentioned that other organisations had indicated that they too would be including information on the value of the ABR in their submissions to the inquiry.

    The Deputy Registrar thanked Mr McAlister for presenting the update to the meeting.

    6. Update on the Business Names Register

    ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer provided the meeting with a general update on the Business Names Register which is administered by ASIC. Mr Tanzer advised that the Commonwealth Business Names Register has been in operation now for two years.

    The purpose of the Business Names Register is to enable the identification of people trading under a name other than their own. The objectives in the creation of the Commonwealth system were to create a nationally consistent nationwide service and to deliver efficiencies.

    As of 30 April 2014, there were almost two million business names on the register. There were more than 25,000 applications received in April alone.

    There was general discussion about the linkages between the ASIC Business Names Register and the ABR and the benefits to the community through the streamlined process.

    7. The Future of Business Registration

    The Deputy Registrar opened the discussion noting that the recent Federal Budget has had some impacts on the work being done on improving business registration. In particular the scoping study on the privatisation of ASIC registry functions will deliver a range of options for Government to consider.

    There are also a range of activities underway examining the issue. These include the:

    • Single Business Service Delivery Interdepartmental Committee being coordinated through the Department of Industry
    • Commission of Audit recommendation to combine the ABR and ASIC registers in order to deliver efficiency, and the
    • Deep dive activity planned by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

    The members were supportive of streamlining the registration process to offer benefits to business and government.

    The Deputy Registrar noted that the issue will continue to be explored and undertook to ensure the members are kept informed of any developments in this space.

    Action Item:



    The Deputy Registrar to provide updates to ABR Advisory Board members on the progress of the work to create a single business register.

    Due date:

    As required


    Deputy Registrar

    8. AUSkey update and direction

    Acting Assistant Registrar, Policy and Strategy Neil Tothill provided the meeting with an update on issues relating to the AUSkey service.

    There are currently about four million authentications using AUSkey each month. AUSkey is currently used by 25 government agencies for about 50 programs.

    Some of the challenges with the system at present include:

    • Issues with compatibility with proprietary software updates
    • Inability to use AUSkey on mobile platforms such as phones and tablets

    The discussion that followed touched on the future of authentication and in particular the concept work on the convergence of authentication and authorisation that is being presented to the Authentication Governance Committee (AGC) which is chaired by the Department of Finance.

    The Deputy Registrar undertook to provide ABR Advisory Board members with an update on the outcomes on this issue following the next AGC meeting.

    Action Item:



    The Deputy Registrar to write to ABR Advisory Board members following the Authentication Governance Committee meeting being held on 12 June to advise of outcomes of the agenda item on the convergence of authentication and authorisation

    Due date:

    June 2014


    Deputy Registrar

    The meeting also noted that the action item from the October 2013 meeting on the preparation of a strategy paper on the future direction of AUSkey will be presented to the October 2014 ABR Advisory Board meeting. The action item has been updated to reflect the new timeframe.

    Action Item:



    A paper be prepared setting out detailed strategies for enhancing the AUSkey system to be commercially viable.

    The paper will be presented at the October 2014 ABR Advisory Board meeting.

    Due date:

    Next meeting


    A/g Assistant Registrar, Policy and Strategy

    9. ABR Update

    The Deputy Registrar introduced, Assistant Registrar, Operations, Robert Drummond to the meeting. Mr Drummond recently stepped into the role formerly undertaken by Trisha Clarke.

    The Deputy Registrar thanked Ms Clarke for her contribution during her period in the Assistant Registrar role.

    Mr Drummond provided the meeting with a brief update on the ABR.


    • There are currently 7.5 million active ABNs
    • Each month there are approximately 62,000 ABN registrations submitted
    • 67% of these are approved at the time of submitting the application

    In December last year improvements to the Register were delivered through both the Towards a Better Business Future (TBBF) and Reducing Business Costs (RBC) Federal Budget initiatives. These include:

    • the new ABR Website (abr.gov.au) going live
    • the system now containing address validation checks
    • the ABS endorsed point of contact coder for ANZSIC coding being available which will ensure a valid code is included in new registrations

    Other changes to the Register currently underway include the introduction of an improved entitlement tool.

    The Deputy Registrar thanked Mr Drummond for providing the meeting with the update.

    10. Other Business

    The Deputy Registrar thanked members for attending the meeting.

    The next Advisory Board Meeting is scheduled for October 2014. The preferred dates are:

    • Thursday 9 October 2014
    • Thursday 30 October 2014

    Details: 1pm to 4pm

    Venue: McKay Boardroom, Level 10 26 Narellan Street, Canberra, ACT

    There being no further business the meeting closed at 4.00pm

      Last modified: 28 Jan 2015QC 43992