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  • Inter-Agency Phoenix Forum minutes - 18 November 2015


    Australian Taxation Office (ATO)

    747 Collins St Melbourne VIC




    18 November 2015








    Michael Cranston



    Contact and Secretariat:

    Kay Johnston

    Contact Phone:

    02 4923 1751


    Australian Taxation Office (ATO)

    Michael Cranston, PGH, Deputy Commissioner

    Scott Parkinson, PGH, Assistant Commissioner

    Michael Seddon, PGH Phoenix, Director

    Kay Johnston, PGH, Phoenix Risk & Intelligence (Secretariat)

    Bronwyn Dumont, Debt (on behalf of Cameron Sorensen)

    Australian Border Force (ABF)

    Craig Palmer (on behalf of David Nockels)

    Australian Business Register (ABR)

    Mano Georgopoulos (on behalf of Robert Drummond)

    Australian Crime Commission (ACC)

    David Ross, Head of Determination, Targeting Criminal Wealth

    Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC)

    Brett Bassett, ASIC, Regional Commissioner QLD, Senior Executive Leader, Small Business Compliance & Deterrence

    Joe Zubcic, ASIC, Senior Manager, Small Business Compliance & Deterrence

    Clean Energy Regulator (CER)

    Vincent Borg (on behalf of Dean Smeulders)

    Department of Employment

    Sue Saunders, Branch Manager, Employee Entitlements Branch

    Department of the Environment

    Matthew Dutkiewicz, Director, Compliance

    Shane Gaddes, Assistant Secretary, Compliance & Enforcement Branch

    Fair Work Building & Construction

    Peter Darlaston, State Director Field Operations (NSW & ACT)

    Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO)

    Aaron Rilstone, Assistant Director, Policy, Media & Communications

    State Revenue Office VIC (SRO VIC)

    Christian Birke, Team Leader, Investigations Branch

    Office of State Revenue NSW (OSR NSW)

    Jim Ormiston, Assistant Director, Operations


    Australian Taxation Office

    Kelly Rhee, PGH, Labour Hire Strategy

    Australian Business Register

    Mano Georgopoulos

    Department of the Environment

    Paul Simonsson, Director, Compliance & Enforcement Branch

    Office of State Revenue NSW

    Jane Dudley, OSR NSW

    State Revenue Office VIC

    Ingrid Mathias, SRO VIC

    Safe Work Australia

    Jamie Milton, Assistant Director, Policy Team, Policy & Services Branch

    Julie Hill, Director, Policy Team, Policy & Services Branch


    Zac Hatzantonis

    Jessica Yu

    Melbourne University

    Helen Anderson


    Geoff Cope

    Justin Ely


    Australian Taxation Office

    Cameron Sorensen, Assistant Commissioner, Service Delivery (Debt)

    Les Dewind, ITX Disengaged Property Developers

    Australian Border Force

    David Nockels, Commander, Immigration & Customs Enforcement

    Australian Business Register

    Robert Drummond, Assistant Commissioner, BRR Operations

    Australian Crime Commission

    Richard Grant, National Manager, Target Development

    Australian Federal Police

    Nicholas McTaggart, Detective Superintendent, Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce

    Peter Crozier, Manager Fraud & Anti-Corruption

    Clean Energy Regulator

    Dean Smeulders, Manager, Regulatory Strategy Intelligence Branch

    Department of Employment

    Justin Bell, Director, Quality Assurance

    Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO)

    Anthony Fogarty, Director, Government & Parliamentary Policy

    Agenda Items

    Key Messages

    Members agreed to focus information sharing and communications strategies in relation the phoenix risk across agencies.

    1 Introduction & Welcome

    Michael Cranston (ATO – Chair) welcomed all attendees to the meeting.

    2 VEDA Presentation

    • Geoff Cope & Justin Ely provided an overview of the types of information that can be provided by VEDA in relation to assisting with the identification of phoenix behaviour.
    • Contact information was left with Kay Johnston (Secretariat) for anyone who would like to contact Geoff.

    3 Melbourne University Presentation

    Helen Anderson discussed the next paper being prepared in the series which is around possible legislative changes to assist with treating and disrupting phoenix behaviour. Some of the suggestions she mentioned were:

    • Adoption of Director Identity Numbers – to assist with removal of fictitious Directors
    • The current requirement to refer back to ASIC for the disqualification of Directors – why not let ATO and FWO also undertake this action, for example by direct application to a court.
    • Improvements to the general anti-avoidance laws
    • Increasing use of the Crimes Tax Offences Act (CTOA) – includes Phoenix CDPP.
    • Free access for all to ASIC data
    • Greater reporting
    • Greater access to the Phoenix Watchlist – perhaps change the name to Business Rescue Watchlist
    • Better data gathering from administrators
    • Michael Cranston suggested a legal forum similar to Wickenby

    Action Item




    Who wants to be involved as an agency with regard to considering possible legislative reform ideas? all IAPF members to respond to Kay Johnston (Secretariat) by 30/1/16 as to whether they wish to be a member of the legislative proposal forum.

    All IAPF Members

    4 PwC Presentation

    • Zac Hatzantonis & Jessica Yu from PwC provided an update in relation to the ATO Phoenix Risk Model assessment
    • Zac Hatzantonis then spoke about the quantification of the phoenix risk modelling that has been undertaken on behalf of FWO, ASIC & ATO – this is an update to the paper prepared in 2012.
    • Initial modelling was presented and Sue Saunders (Employment) questioned some of the figures around the FEG (Fair Entitlement Guarantee) data
    • Michael Cranston stated that the initial trend analysis was informative, now the various agency heads need to get together and talk about government influence and support.
    • Zac Hatzantonis stated that economy wide modelling was not conducted in the 2012 paper and this is an aspect that has been introduced in the current version of modelling.

    Action Item




    Sue Saunders (Employment) to provide PwC with updated FEG data to assist with greater accuracy around quantification of employee related data (due 31/12/15)

    Sue Saunders (Employment)

    5 Previous minutes/action items

    • Previous minutes to be distributed.
    • Action items discussed and updated.

    6 Update on Phoenix Taskforce (Michael Seddon - ATO)

    Michael provided an update and clarification around how the taskforce will interact with the Inter Agency Phoenix forum.

    • There will be no separate meetings for the whole group (ie. IAPF members as taskforce members)
    • A steering committee will be established made up of ATO, ASIC, FWO and ABF to meet as needed
    • Top 50 workshops will be conducted with member agencies invited by the steering committee on an as needed basis

    Jane Dudley (NSW OSR) proposed that phoenix be added as a standing agenda item at ATRO to ensure that state and territory revenue office taskforce members are informed and engaged.

    Action Item




    Jim Ormiston (NSW OSR) to organise to have phoenix added as a standing agenda item at ATRO.

    Jim Ormiston (NSW OSR)

    7 Phoenix Watch List (Mano Georgopoulos - ABR)

    • Bulk upload issue have been rectified as of 12/11/15
    • Bronwyn Dumont (Debt) would like to see the PWL expanded to include advisors and facilitators
    • Sue Saunders (Employment) would like to see some principles out as to what gets on the list (high risk only)

    8 Security of Payments ACT (Scott Parkinson - ATO)

    Scott flagged to state and territory revenue office members of Phoenix Taskforce that he will be sending a letter to them requesting their responses in relation to questions raised by a minister as part of the Senate Inquiry into Insolvency in the Building & Construction Industry.

    He will use the Phoenix Taskforce members as a conduit to the appropriate contacts within the state bodies to solicit a response.

    The possibility of raising this issue at ATRO in March 2016 was flagged.

    Action Item




    Scott Parkinson will issue a formal request for response in relation to the Security of Payments Act legislation request from the Senate Inquiry into Insolvency in the Building & Construction Industry

    All State & Territory Phoenix Taskforce members

    9 Communication Update (Michael Seddon - ATO)

    • A video syndication campaign ran from May to September.
    • ATO website has been updated to include a list of phoenix taskforce agencies.
    • Media release on fighting phoenix activity in relation to the Commonwealth Games construction sites was sent out in September.
    • A partnership is planned with Kochie's Business Builders program to produce a series of short segments on how to spot, avoid and report phoenix activity.
    • Social media posts are planned for coming months.
    • A paid advertising campaign is planned for 2016.

    10 Safe Work Australia (Jamie Milton)

    Jamie provided an overview of the role and functions of Safe Work Australia (SWA) and the implications of phoenix activity on work health and safety and workers’ compensation:-

    • SWA is a national policy agency leading the development of policy to improve work health and safety and workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia
    • SWA represents the states and territories with regard to work health and safety and workers compensation at the national level, and states and territories are responsible for enforcement and compliance
    • The cost of phoenix activity is most commonly seen by workers’ compensation regulators where employers do not pay premiums or are insured for workers’ injuries. The act of liquidation makes recovery of outstanding debt very difficult
    • Phoenix activity also complicates processes to prosecute employers and directors for beaches of work health and safety laws in the case of work-related fatalities and injuries
    • SWA can play a role to represent the jurisdictions in the IAPF. A meeting of Safe Work Australia Members is next scheduled for February 2016 – looking to invite someone to talk about phoenix at this meeting
    • The issue regarding on-disclosure of information under work health and safety laws still needs to be worked through

    Action Item




    Organise invitation to next SWA meeting in February 2016 for Phoenix (Michael Seddon)

    Jamie Milton SWA

    11 Labour Hire (Kelly Rhee - ATO)

    Kelly outlined the whole of ATO strategy in relation to the labour hire risk including phoenix behaviour. She spoke about the following:-

    • Scoping the risk
    • Targeting where to spend resources
    • Influencing behaviour/leverage to cause change
    • Enforcement – how to be more streamlined/effective
    • Changing the rules of the game – legislative reform
    • Using smarter data to identify labour hire firms that may not be in the phoenix population eg. Meat processing industry – proposed pilot
    • Examining intermediaries and partners – migration agents, language schools, liquidators, licensing bodies

    12 Taskforce Cadena Update (Craig Palmer – ABF & Aaron Rilstone – FWO)

    • Co-ordinate activities of both ABF & FWO – develop target lists – each target has an intel product behind it
    • Looking at labour exploitation, organised visa fraud, migration fraud framework
    • 56 matters under assessment, 15 active investigations, 10 pending resolution activity
    • Mainly agriculture industry
    • Michael Cranston advised that ATO has 13 current operations that involve labour hire

    Action Item




    Kelly Rhee to organise an out of session phone hook-up to discuss the best way forward in relation to co-ordinating efforts between agencies and keeping each other informed about current activities.

    Craig Palmer (ABF) Aaron Rilstone (FWO) Kelly Rhee (ATO) & ASIC

    13 Wrap up and close

    The details of the next meeting are tabled below.


    Friday 19 February 2016


    10.00am - 01.00pm



    100 Market St, Sydney

      Last modified: 15 Mar 2016QC 48331