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  • Modernising Business Registers Business Advisory Group key messages 5 October 2022

    Welcome and introductions

    Chair, Deputy Commissioner and Senior Accountable Officer Narda Phillips opened the meeting and welcomed attendees.

    No conflicts were declared.

    Narda welcomed Karen Foat, acting Deputy Registrar and Deputy Commissioner, Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS).

    Karen shared her key focus areas over the next 12 months that includes:

    • operating the ABRS business and supporting the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program
    • director ID delivery
    • integrity of registration
    • getting the most out of our data
    • staff engagement.

    Program update

    Narda shared the focus of the meeting is on director ID, and limited discussion about the program based on where we are in the budget cycle.

    The program’s current plan is tracking red and we continue to work through the budgetary process. Following the October budget a message outlining the impacts on the program will be shared.

    Contingency plans are in place.

    An action item update was provided.

    Director ID update

    Assistant Commissioner, Martin Jacobs thanked members for their commitment and support of director ID. We are approaching 30 November 2022 which is the end date of the transition arrangements for existing directors.

    Onboarding directors

    As at the end of September 2022, just over 916,000 director ID applications had been processed with an estimated 1.5 million directors yet to apply by the deadline, 38% complete. Of this number:

    • 88% of applications have been completed on
    • 111,0000 applications were processed in the month of September, second highest month since launching director ID
    • requests for telephony support have increased.

    The telephony channel has faced challenges such as balancing service levels and call wait times. During tax time, some calls were blocked to ensure the right experience, and this continues to be managed daily.

    To support the director ID application process we:

    • are increasing staff numbers
    • are continuing education activities via communications about the requirement to apply for a director ID, with directors encouraged to use myGov ID to self-serve
    • have updated the paper application form for non-residents
    • are commencing a broad advertising and communications campaign from mid-October to alert directors of their obligation to apply.

    Certification requirements

    An update on this action item was provided outlining the ATO’s position:

    There is no Commonwealth law governing who can certify identity documents. As such it is a matter for each agency to determine who they consider to be acceptable certifiers. To date both the ATO and the ABRS have implemented a risk-based decision to exclude tax agents and accountants from the list of approved certifiers. This is because:

    • there is the possibility of real or perceived conflicts of interest arising
    • there is a need for separation of duties in our processes, particularly where we cannot be certain that a tax agent or accountant will not later represent an entity (for whom they have certified documents) in their tax affairs
    • this represents one fraud control the ATO and ABRS have in place, and expanding the list of approved certifiers could pose a serious risk to the integrity of the client register.

    We acknowledge the feedback we have received asking us to review the ATO’s position.

    Members indicated they were not satisfied with the outcome. Karen Foat advised that if members want to escalate this topic further, and noted that it may not be limited only to registration (that is ATO’s general position), the National Tax Liaison Group may be a more appropriate forum.

    Director ID marketing and communications

    An advertising campaign is planned to commence 19 October 2022. The campaign will aim to maximise director compliance by 30 November 2022 and will focus on promoting digital first and referring people to the ABRS website for information and support. The advertising will include:

    • displays in retail and transport hubs (train stations and airports)
    • cinema advertising
    • press advertising specifically aimed at indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse audiences
    • social video and static (web banners) search advertising
    • media partnership with media network to reach audiences
    • paid public relations outreach.

    Advertising will target the broad range of directors including those that may not realise that they have this obligation.

    Messaging will be tailored for various audience groups including directors who fall within the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 provisions and have an additional 12 months to apply.

    Communications through ATO owned channels and key stakeholder networks continue. A white label materials pack was distributed in August to key stakeholders.

    Current trends include an observed increase in director ID application numbers and a 40% increase in web traffic over the past 28 days.

    Wrap and close

    Narda thanked members, presenters, and attendees for their contributions.

      Last modified: 14 Oct 2022QC 70608