• Appendix 3: Survey comments

    As a long term member of consultation groups I am satisfied with the progress over time and the fact that ATO and externals now understand each other's roles better than in the past.

    It's clear that the Reinventing the ATO process is leading to very positive culture change within the ATO, and I'm impressed by the energy of staff I've engaged with and their desire genuinely work with stakeholders.

    I believe the consultation approach is quite effective and serves the purpose which the approach taken set out to achieve. However, greater awareness needs to be made of the consultation approach as there are far too many practitioners who are still unaware of the consultation arrangements available

    I believe the views of advisory group of which I am a member are treated with respect by the ATO and other government reps on it. Accordingly, members of the group are prepared to raise issues and if necessary, invest considerable time assisting in their resolution. For example, by participating in a working group, or preparing an issues paper. We do not expect the ATO to do all the 'hard-lifting'.

    While targeted consultation with relevant parties is useful and often more productive on those matters, the mechanisms to raise issues, particularly technical issues is now very limited. Previous iterations of these committees has enabled opportunities (before or during the meeting) to raise issues and discuss their importance/priority.

    I am very encourage with open communication within the forum and with the ATO's approach to engaging with individual taxpayers and the public in general and with:

    • ways of reducing complexity in meeting tax and superannuation obligations
    • opportunities to improve current administrative practices
    • review of emerging trends, risks and issues from the individual taxpayers perspective
    • the openness with the ability to contribute to and comment on the design of the ATO’s new customer centric administrative approach.

    Consultation is crucial. Staying in touch with practitioners and through them taxpayers is very valuable. I am extremely happy that ATO does that. It will seldom be perfect, but will always be important.

    ATO are very professional!

    The group works very well and has constructive input and is a key opportunity for the major super players to come together to discuss issues that affect the super system. There is room for improvement in some of the attendance from some participants but overall it is not too bad and the forum dates move around as a result of the topics that are dependent on government papers such as the FSI and White Paper.

    In the consultation group in which I participate, the Individual Taxpayers' Advisory Group, the revised consultation arrangements have resulted in significant improvement, most particularly welcome animus and tighter focus in the consultation process.

    It's difficult to give single answers to many of these questions because performance is not uniform. Generally papers are clear and helpful, matters are clearly relevant or not relevant for representative interest, matters usually conclude with a decision or identified further activity and records are accurate or correctable. Timeliness is usually OK to good.

    From my point of view, the new arrangements are working very well and reflect positively on the ATO's approach to consultation. Their efforts are greatly appreciated.

    The committee I am currently involved in, and the one I was previously involved in, seem to have a charter of informing us as to what is going on, asking our input during the meeting. They do not give us opportunity to consult with the community groups we represent. They often only provide the briefing papers at the meeting. They feel very much like a one-way street. Information is coming to us, but not much is wanted for going back the other way.

    Some participants from outside the ATO gave little input and appeared to be in a personal learning position. The level of the debate was also bogged down by one external participant who is ex-ATO. This person steered the debate away from the main topic of consultation and offered little tangible external experience. The topics for debate were well presented and discussed and there was a sense of listening and acting-on by the ATO throughout the process.

    The concept of consultation ahead of law and practice changes should be encouraged into the future but limited to one participant per big 4 per consultative committee, and to professional body employees (not big 4 members) who are prepared to disseminate issues to their wider body of members for expression of interest in contributing to the debates.

    Generally, I am satisfied with the transparency of consultation arrangements, but I have been concerned at the change in the P2P arrangements which were simply announced to us without any apparent prior consultation.

    The NTLG need to be a much tighter, smaller group to be efficient and more effective. The ATO, Treasury and the professions need to think harder around the smaller number of active contributors in consultations. Having said that, these new arrangements, aiming at greater effectiveness and efficiency in consultations in the national interest are about 90-95% there. They are much, much better and full credit to all parties for getting on board.

    Sometimes I am not convinced we are being provided with the whole story. Sometimes the specifics of the consultation don’t include other aspects of the relevant discussion. Sometimes I feel like consultation keeps happening until the ATO gets the answer they are looking for and ignore all other responses. Having said that I think the ATO tends to really want to consult and understand. The ATO do need to appreciate that the ATO view is not the entire picture and many of your exec seem to appreciate that, at times it is not evident from others.

    Overall I am satisfied to very satisfied with the process and quality of the conversations. My big disappointment is that there 'appears' to be ATO personnel outside (?) the meeting process that have significant influence on some matters. I am particularly thinking of the TP simplification process that commenced really well but in later stages numerous limitations of taxpayer beneficiaries of the simplification measures made me question the enormity of time that I devoted to the process. Overall I compliment the ATO personnel involved in the meetings for their openness, knowledge and preparedness to debate the various issues involved.

    Hard to provide responses due to participation in a number of different groups. Satisfaction with various groups varies. Generally I am satisfied but there are some consultations that have not been satisfactory. For example TR 2014/7 where the ATO view was clearly formed and industry consultation was not able to shift this view. There are now considerable issues that have arisen as a result of this TR and we are now engaged in more consultation to amend the ruling. Consultation is only effective where it is early in the process of ATO forming its view. Where views have already been formed there is no point consulting. I don't believe the hub is working effectively yet. From a stakeholder perspective there are no updates on hub activities (maybe I'm not on the list). However I fully support the model and the idea to form issue specific groups is far more effective than the previous model. In contrast other groups appear to be working hard to engage with industry and understand issues and perspectives and feed these into interpretations and that has been welcomed by industry.

    There is very little visibility of outcomes for consultation unless you go searching on ato.gov.au. I don't think the remaining consultation forums are any more effective than the ones that were discontinued.

    The discussion paper on one touch payroll was poor quality

    The problems with the ABR are clearly holding a lot of things up, and must be addressed as soon as possible.

      Last modified: 22 Sep 2015QC 46926