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Modernising Business Registers Business Advisory Group key messages 19 June 2023

Key messages from the Modernising Business Registers Business Advisory Group meeting 19 June 2023.

Last updated 11 September 2023

Welcome and Introductions

Deputy Commissioner Narda Phillips opened the Business Advisory Group (BAG) meeting and welcomed attendees.

No conflicts were declared.

Program update

Independent review

The independent review of the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program is due to be concluded by end of June 2023 with a final report delivered to government. Currently, we are well into the review with over 400-500 documents provided to the Independent Review team, with a number of workshops and deep dive sessions held.

Action item updates

Assistant Commissioner, Karen Redhead provided an action item updates.

BAG – 78 (ABRS agents’ compliance model)

In progress. An update will be provided following the outcome of the independent review.

BAG – 85 (Tiered access model – 2022 consultation)

In progress.

A summary of feedback from consultation sessions and how that has informed the tiered access model will be distributed to members for review ahead of an agenda item at the August BAG meeting.

BAG – 86 (Tiered access model – authorised representative access)

In progress.

A presentation is being developed to illustrate what data Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) agents and authorised representatives can access. The pack will be presented at an upcoming BAG meeting.

ABRS Law and Policy

Registration data standards

Assistant Commissioner, Trent Jakubowski provided an update on draft Companies and ABN registration data standard. The Commonwealth Registers Act 2020 provides the Registrar the ability to create data standards through a legislative instrument on matters relating to the performance of the Registrar’s functions and powers. For example, data standards provide for what information can be collected, the manner and the form in which information is given, and how information, is collected, verified and stored. Objectives of data standards include:

  • replace prescriptive legislation and rules contained in various registry acts
  • enliven the ‘tell us once’ approach in relation to the collection of information
  • can be more readily amended over time.

Draft registration data standard is expected to be shared for an ‘in-confidence’ BAG consultation in late July/early August 2023, prior to public consultation commencing. Noting that the outcomes of the independent review may also impact the timeframe.

Regarding the data standards and the collection of personal information, Trent advised that the Registrar is bound by the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act), which provides for the collection of only the personal information that is necessary for the performance of the Registrar’s function.

Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC) Update

Forms modernisation – release targeting July 2023

Robin Hayes provided an update on the continuing development of ASIC’s Regulatory portal which primarily caters for regulatory functions and powers that will not transition to the ABRS as part of the MBR program. Four new transactions are expected to be made available in the Regulatory portal on 31 July 2023 (replacing equivalent legacy forms):

  • Submit notification to rely on ASIC Corporations (Business Introduction Services) Instrument 2022-805 (legacy form code 7102) – to allow a relevant entity to notify ASIC that it is seeking to rely on relief available under certain class or orders of legislative instruments.
  • Apply for ASIC consent to resign as an auditor of a public company (legacy form code 342) – to allow auditors to use this transaction to apply for ASIC’s consent to resign as an auditor of a public company.
  • Apply for early destruction of books (legacy form code 574) – to allow liquidators to apply for ASIC consent for early destruction of books.
  • Notify ASIC or apply to ASIC about company auditor appointments (legacy form code 339, 341) – to allow:
    • a company to notify ASIC of the failure to appoint a replacement auditor. ASIC will review the notification and may appoint an auditor
    • a member of a proprietary company with more than one crowd source funding shareholder, or a member a public company, to apply to ASIC to appoint an auditor.

These transactions are low lodgement volume and relate specifically to auditors and liquidators.

The introduction of these new services is being communicated through a range of ASIC communication channels.

BAG members are encouraged to share key messages (contained in InFocus June 2023 - Volume 32 Issue 4 | ASICExternal Link).

Companies register – data migration

An update was provided on the data migration component of the companies program. Data migration is the process of copying historical and current records across from ASIC and ABR into the new ABRS companies register.

The update covered the scope and volume of data being migrated, and the schedule of the data migration project and its current status. Some key aspects of the treatment of records were discussed.

Members asked about the user experience and how will they interact with the migrated data. It is expected that users will be able to interpret the data without significant difficulty given the changes to the records and their presentation are relatively minor.

Members asked about what agents and digital service providers can do now to support the data migration, including in relation to the linking of director ID holders to their company directorships. The best preparation for migration is for companies and their officeholders to meet their obligations to register and keep details up to date. Before the companies release ABRS will be developing communications encourage companies to check that key registry data up to date.

Future register – grandfathered business names with no Australian business number (ABN)

An update was provided on recent feedback request to understand a specific cohort of registrants known as the grandfathered business names with no ABN attached to their business name registration.

Generally, all business names are required to have an ABN to obtain and maintain their business name registration. This notion is captured in the fundamental purpose of a business name, as an (ABN) entity identifier. In 2012, names transferred from their respective state and territory registers, to create the national register, were allowed to remain registered without providing their ABN (as captured in the Business Names Registration (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) ACT 2011 (BNR Transitional Act).

A small amount of feedback was received, however feedback was not comprehensive which still leaves this cohort a relative unknown in terms of the types of businesses they undertake and why many still don’t have an ABN?

Members were thanked for their feedback. This information will be considered and support the design process going forward.