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  • Modernising Business Registers Business Advisory Group key messages 30 November 2021

    Welcome and introductions

    Chair, Assistant Commissioner Georgina Wade opened the meeting and welcomed attendees.

    No conflicts of interest were declared.

    Members were reminded that discussions are confidential, and key messages will be issued to assist members with sharing information.

    An action item update was provided.

    Feedback was provided from members that the Digital Partnership Office had sent digital service providers an invitation to participate in a business inbox design session via an expression of interest. Further information will be sought from and shared with members.

    Members observed it is important they are consulted early in the design process to ensure the knowledge and experience of the forum is best utilised.

    Treasury update

    Members were provided with an update on the delegation model.

    Under the delegation model, functions that were originally with Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) remain with ASIC legally and have been delegated to the Registrar to perform. Even though functions are performed on Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) systems, legally they are performed by ASIC. The model will continue in place until functions are available to be legally transferred to the Registrar.

    Treasury representative Kate Penney advised consultation on registry fees will commence shortly and continue throughout January 2022.


    Law and Policy

    Senior Director, Tara McLachlan provided a Law and Policy update.

    Work continues with Treasury and ASIC on the delegation law which will aim to provide flexibility to support the MBR program, including the Companies release and transfer of functions and powers.

    Members were reminded the remade director ID data standards and disclosure framework are currently open for public consultation until 8 December. These take into account the CATSI (Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006) provisions and director ID obligations.

    An update on the data standards for the Companies release was provided. Currently reviewing over 250 references in law against the program plan, to support mapping the data standard instruments required for the Companies release. A preliminary map is being tested with ASIC before and planning to consult with MBR Business Advisory Group (BAG) members early next year.

    The disclosure framework instruments will be considered to understand what is needed to support the search and sharing of information.

    Director ID

    Director, Michael Flynn provided an update on the director ID onboarding process.

    Since commencing public beta 1 November there have been:

    • 140,000 director ID applications issued
    • 15,000 calls answered via the ABRS director ID line
    • 376,000 unique visits to the ABRS website page.

    Preliminary data indicates 95% of applications have been received online, with 4% received via telephony and 1% via the paper channel. On average, ABRS are receiving 5,000 applications per day.

    Director, Rob Hayes provided an update on the communications and engagement activities. It was expressed that a large proportion of the high uptake seen in public beta can be attributed to the amount of work and support intermediaries and digital service providers are providing to their members and clients. Rob thanked members for their support in promoting the current level of awareness.

    An ABRS branded communication will be included with the electronic version of the ASIC Annual statement package. This will provide information to company directors about director ID when receiving and reviewing their company annual statement.

    Questions raised for member feedback:

    1. Given that this is effectively a 'soft launch' and that our primary target is new directors, what level of visibility of director ID are members seeing? High, low, or medium?

    General response is relatively low at this stage. It was noted, given the current issues for small business, it is timely that director ID has a slow roll out.

    A question was raised around the number of director ID applications that have been declined, and if there is a trend in reasons for decline. Rob advised the data from the public beta is still in its early stages and will look to provide further insight for members in 2022.

    1. What communication or engagement gaps, if any, would BAG members recommend we close in this initial phase?

    It was noted, it would be useful to share ABRS information material and distribute to members/clients, including versions tailored for different industry groups and audiences. Rob advised targeted communications will form part of a 2022 campaign that will target specific segments.

    1. What is the general sentiment about director ID that BAG members are hearing?

    Feedback from members includes:

    • it is a relatively easy process
    • what can be done with a director ID?
    • how do I treat my director ID and who can I share it with?
    • will my director ID be cancelled if I don’t use it for 12 months?
    • how will ASIC know what my director ID is?
    • will director ID become a mandatory field on the tax return?
    • questions around the compliance approach including fines.

    Members advised feedback indicates a need for more information about next steps. Rob thanked members for their feedback and advised further communications to create awareness, educate and support will be provided early in the new year.

    Georgina Wade advised further information on the compliance approach will be included as a future agenda item.

    2021 – what we did

    A reflection on 2021 was provided by the program’s senior accountable officer, Deputy Commissioner and Deputy Registrar, Michelle Crosby.

    2021 has been a successful and challenging year. Michelle acknowledged and thanked members for their input and support, noting the group has contributed significantly to the achievements made over the past year including:

    • disclosure framework and data standards
    • director ID (including positioning and communications)
    • participation across other forums including Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group and the design working group.

    Michelle thanked members for their continued commitment.

    Georgina Wade provided feedback on survey recently sent to members to gauge sentiments on how the forum is operating. Key themes included:

    • willingness to consult and engage
    • flexibility in participation allowed for robust discussions
    • more coordination across the program
    • large membership group
    • high commitment.

    Members were advised the BAG forum membership will be reviewed over the coming months.

    2022 – what we plan to do

    An indicative timeline of upcoming activities was presented and discussed. It was noted the timeline was in draft and will continued to be refined and updated. Key points discussed:

    • For the Companies release, a commercial off the shelf (COTS) product (Verne) information session will be arranged to be held early next year.
    • Members queried if the potential impacts of the Budget, election and leave plans (ATO and BAG) for representatives have been considered in the timeline.
    • Potential impacts will be incorporated into future versions of the timeline and further information will be sought from members to understand their availability over the next three months.
    • A question was raised regarding the COTS product; how does this fit into the federal government’s technology neutral mandate and how will it be capable of connecting with other software platforms in the government’s technology suite.
    • This will be considered as part of the upcoming information session.

    Director, Brett Campbell shared a presentation and provided an update on the outcomes from the Community Co-design survey and workshop. Eight themes have been identified, including specific topics across each theme. Next steps include scheduling program activities to:

    • communicate and share progress on initiatives
    • facilitate dedicated information sessions to raise awareness across aspects of the design
    • conduct further targeted co-design activities to shape program solutions.

    A question was asked around the timing of some of the sessions and whether the agent/intermediary model is fully understood.

    Georgina Wade advised this will continue to be unpacked including understanding the parameters of what is in scope and out of scope.

    Director, Eleanor Beer discussed some of the early work planned for the ABRS agent model. Focus will be on consulting and engaging early.

    Members expressed concerns around the size of the program of work and timeframes for next year. It was requested that members will need to be informed early to assist with decision making.

    Assistant Commissioner, Naomi Westwood provided an update on the company search topic. There has been a lot of work already undertaken around registry services and the data collected. This data is valuable for a broad range of purposes. Discussions have commenced to understand user groups, their priorities, and irritants currently in the system to assist with design. Key challenges include:

    • ensuring we have the right settings for privacy of data and the public nature of data, and how this applies to different consumer groups
    • what controls can we put in place to give information to consumer groups that require it, but ensure it is contained to only those people for that purpose?

    An update on Non-Company ABN and Business Name Registers was provided by Assistant Commissioner, Karen Redhead. Early discovery work will commence next year with stakeholders and the community to understand current pain points in other registers and opportunities that can inform the design solutions. Karen noted feedback would be sought within context of the program scope, timeframes, abilities of the COTS product, and budget.

    A member queried whether the register review should focus on business processes instead of individual registers?

    The goal of MBR is to determine how to bring the registers together and implement one agent model across the registers. Consultation will continue to be undertaken to understand how people want to interact with the registers and meet their obligations.

    Members advised the agent model will provide the natural processes and systems that support the registers; what is applicable on the agent side needs to be applicable for all registers.

    A workshop is planned to be held in December 2021 to look at the agent model in more detail.

    Wrap and close

    Georgina thanked members and attendees for their contributions.

      Last modified: 22 Dec 2021QC 67600