•  Agenda items


    Australian Business Register Advisory Board agendas, minutes and related papers are not binding on the Australian Business Register, Tax Office or any of the other bodies referred to in these papers. While every effort is made to accurately record views expressed, the wording necessarily represents a summary of statements of general position only, and care should be taken in interpreting those statements. These papers reflect the position at the date of release (unless otherwise noted) and readers should note that the position on any issue may subsequently change.

    1. Introduction: Welcome

    Deputy Registrar, Mark Jackson welcomed members to the meeting noting that the Registrar had been delayed and would join the meeting shortly.

    Mr Jackson welcomed Mr Geoff Leeper to the meeting in his capacity as the ATOs new Second Commissioner and thanked him for attending on his second day with the organisation. Mr Kim Salisbury was also welcomed to his first meeting as the ACT Revenue Office Commissioner.

    Apologies were received from Mr Greg Tanzer, (Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)), Ms Ann Steward (Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO)) and Mr Roger Arwas (Small Business Victoria).

    Mr Jackson also welcomed Ms Rosanne Bell attending as Mr Tanzer’s representative and Mr Scott Wallace who represented Ms Steward.

    2. Confirm minutes/previous action items

    Members confirmed the minutes of the ABR Advisory Board meeting held on 2 May 2012 and reviewed the progress of the previous action items.

    ABRAB/0205-01 – In Progress

    Assistant Registrar, Trisha Clarke advised the meeting that an interagency working group had been formed and an initial meeting was held in August to progress the development of a map detailing the natural interaction points between the ABR and other agencies.

    A template was provided to working group members to complete, identifying the key points of interaction. Once all the information has been received, analysed and prioritised, a report will be distributed to ABR Advisory Board members for comment.

    ABRAB/0205-02 – In progress

    Ms Clarke advised that following the May ABR Advisory Board meeting the ABR staff met with Ms Jenny Coppock from the Auburn City Council to help quantify how the Council uses the ABR information they receive.

    The information received is currently being analysed and once complete, the information will be discussed with staff at the Department of Finance and Deregulation.

    ABRAB/0205-03 – Complete

    Ms Clarke advised that following Mr Michael Davies item at the May ABR Advisory Board meeting on an ideal register, Business Analysts in the ABR team, in conjunction with the ATO’s IT area, compared the information in the ABS model with fields in the current ABR and identified any gaps.

    Following review of the documentation, the Assistant Registrar asked the meeting if there were any information not currently collected by the Register that might want to be considered for any future changes.

    Ms Weston advised that information on the number of employees and payroll data as well as branching information would be of benefit to the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE).

    Mr Jackson added that while expanding the ABR to include additional data fields would be of benefit we need to be mindful of the additional costs associated with expanding the system as well as the extra ongoing maintenance of the system that would be required to help ensure the integrity of the data.

    The meeting agreed to form a small working group to evaluate the gaps identified and prioritise the information. Ms Weston, Mr Ewing, Mr Salisbury and Ms Grant all agreed to nominate an officer to participate in the group and the board will receive a report back at the next meeting.

    Action item:



    Representatives from DIISRTE, ABS, ACT Revenue and Customs to form a working group to review identified gaps from the analysis work and provide a report for the next meeting on the priorities and how they can be included in the Register in the future

    Due Date:

    Prior to next meeting


    Assistant Registrar

    ABRAB/0205-04 – Complete

    The meeting was advised that a list of agencies currently accepting and using AUSkey was circulated to ABR Advisory Board members on 26 June 2012.

    ABRAB/0205-05– Complete

    Mr Rose advised that he met with Mr Tanzer and Ms Bell on 21 August 2012 to discuss AUSkey and the chain of trust. Mr Rose also advised that the meeting also discussed the role that AUSkey can play in ASICs online services in the future.

    ABRAB/0205-06 – Complete

    The meeting was advised that information on the number businesses currently hold multiple AUSkeys was circulated to ABR Advisory Board members on 26 June 2012.

    3. Membership Update

    State Government representation

    The Deputy Registrar advised that Mr Roger Arwas has been appointed to the Advisory Board as the new representative for the Victorian Government. Mr Arwas is Executive Director at Small Business Victoria.

    Mr Arwas is very much looking forward to participating in the Advisory Board and expressed his disappointment at not being able to participate in the October meeting.

    Mr Jackson advised that he is waiting on advice in relation to the NSW Government representative. The vacancy arose following a recent restructure and the previous representative, Mr Clive Faro, moving on to a new role.

    Increasing business engagement

    Mr Jackson raised the issue of business engagement in the ABR Advisory Board. Mr Jackson informed the meeting that the topic had been raised previously.

    The meeting agreed that the current size and makeup of the Advisory Board was adequate and while the industry consultation was important there were a number of options raised by members.

    Ms Weston advised that DIISRTE currently have a Small Business Advisory Committee which includes representation from business as well as industry groups, The Minister also conducts small business forums which they would be happy to open up to the ABR.

    Ms Grant also advised that Customs also have a forum that has significant business representation that they would be happy for the ABR to present at.

    Mr Miller suggested that a consultative group could be formed on an adhoc basis when issues arise that needs industry input.

    It was also suggested that business groups should be consulted to see what level of input (if any) they would like to have. Ms Weston mentioned that there was a consultation website which could help with this.

    It was agreed that the suggestions raised during the meeting would be considered and synthesised and the Deputy Registrar will present an options paper to the next meeting.

    Action item:



    The Deputy Registrar to liaise with ABR Advisory Board members out of session to gather suggestions on how best to ensure business engagement in the ABR Advisory Board. An options paper will be presented to the next meeting for further consideration.

    Due Date:

    Next Meeting


    Deputy Registrar

    4. AUSkey positioning for the future

    Mr Rose presented the meeting with an update on the take up and usage of the AUSkey digital credential.

    It was noted that the use of AUSkey is progressing to be more extensive in government online services use.

    Mr Rose also advised that they also looking at how AUSkey fits with the National Trusted Identity Framework (NTIF) being developed by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, particularly for those agencies who accept multiple credentials.

    Ms Golightly asked what might need to be done for AUSkey to meet a larger number of agencies needs rather than trying to meet everyone’s needs. AUSkey’s use in the Superannuation and business to government reporting is of particular interest to the Department of Human Services.

    Another issue raised during the discussion was on the expansion of AUSkey to be used on non-PC hardware such as tablets and other mobile devices. Mr Ravanello asked if there was any consideration to expand AUSkeys use to other devices. Mr Rose advised that is an issue being considered at present as there is increasing demand in supporting mobile applications of AUSkey.

    Action item:



    Mr Rose to develop an issues paper following consultation with agencies to consider:

    • the suitability of AUSkey for application to agency services more broadly
    • additional agency requirements identified for the broader application of AUSkey to government services,
    Due Date:

    Next Meeting


    Mr Rose

    ABR Advisory Board members

    5. ABR Update

    Ms Clarke provided the meeting with an update on the ABR program of work.

    • Almost 300 million searches are carried out on the ABN Lookup service each year.
    • There is a new ABN registered every 57 seconds (24/7) or every 12 seconds if calculated during business hours.
    • There were 3.6 million changes made to the registration details last year

    ABR Business Names project

    Ms Clarke advised that since the last meeting the Business Names system refresh had taken place on 28 May. As part of this release the ability to register for GST and PAYG (withholding) was removed, however they will be part of the next release due to go live on 26 November.

    The November release is on track to be delivered on time and will bring the connectivity to the ASIC system closer.

    Terms & Conditions

    Ms Clarke reported that following the change to partner agencies signing terms and conditions rather than MOUs earlier this year, there has been a significant growth in the number of partner agencies.

    The Registrar also presented to the Australian Local Government Association Conference in June and seven previously unsigned local councils had signed a terms and conditions agreement to receive ABR data by the end of the conference. The approach is designed to reduce red tape and be a more cost effective way for Government agencies at all levels to receive and use ABR data.

    Towards a Better Business Future

    The May Federal Budget included a modest investment to make improvements to the ABR and help ensure the integrity of the Register.

    The program of work known as ‘Towards a Better Business Future’ features four separate projects:

    Project 1 – ABR Review and assurance

    Project 2 – Enhance ABR data holdings

    Project 3 – Develop data extraction an data matching tools to assist with government planning

    Project 4 – ABR and AUSkey website modernisation

    The review and assurance work will involve desk reviews, site visits and correcting ANZSIC codes. The TBBF work will be supported by the registrar initiated cancellations and registrations currently uncoded being coded using the ABS’ ‘next gen ANZSIC coder’.

    Project 1 will also invest in strategy, risk and intelligence capabilities to ensure we are more methodical with which cases are selected. Outcomes from this work will also help inform future programs.

    Ms Clarke advised that registration patterns are changing since the introduction in 2009 of the entitlement tool for individual registrations. The team will be looking to see why this pattern is occurring.

    Project 2 will be focussing on expanding the fields in the Register to geocode the ABR data. The Project Manager, Mano Georgopoulos is scheduled to present an update on this work at Agenda item 7.

    Ms Clarke noted that they are working with the Office of Spatial Policy in the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism on geocoding the data. Mr Jackson added that there has been some progress on the issue of a whole of government licence for the GNAF system. Mr Jackson undertook to invite Helen Owens from OSP to the next ABR Advisory Board meeting to provide an update on the progress of discussions with PSMA.

    Action item:



    Deputy Registrar to invite Ms Owens from the Office of Spatial Policy to attend the next ABR Advisory Board meeting to provide an update on the progress of discussions with the PSMA

    Due Date:

    Next Meeting


    Deputy Registrar

    Mr Beresford Wylie will also advise on whether local councils are able to access and use geocoded information via the GNAF system

    Action item:



    Mr Beresford-Wylie to provide information on whether local government agencies are able to access and use geocoded information via the GNAF system

    Due Date:



    Mr Beresford-Wylie


    The work underway in Project 3 will make the data ABR more flexible and useable for partner agencies. Project Manager, Natasha Bartlett is scheduled to present an update on this work at agenda item 8.

    Project 4 will enhance the ABR and AUSkey websites to help improve the user experience.

    The program of work is funded for four years with most of the projects to be delivered in the first year.

    Penalty Regime

    A no short fall penalty regime was introduced following changes to legislation in June and the release of the Law Administration Practice Statement in the ATO. A penalty of up to $6,600 per false or misleading statement can be applied for statements made after 4 June 2012.

    Report of the Registrar

    The meeting was presented with a copy of the draft 2011-12 ABR Report of the Registrar. Members were asked to review and provide any changes or feedback as soon as possible. The Registrar is aiming to have the Report released to coincide with the Commissioner of Taxation’s Annual Report being tabled in Parliament in late October.

    ABR Advisory Board members will be sent a copy of the final document when it becomes available.

    6. The future of the ABR

    The Deputy Registrar invited members to hold a discussion on the ABR going forward. In recent times the Registrar has been approached to include additional information.

    This has lead the ABR team to look at options for the design and purpose of the Register and whether things need to be considered. The discussion that ensued focussed on the integrity of the data held on the Register. Overall, members were supportive of any work that could be done to ensure the data integrity.

    It was recognised that agencies rely on the accuracy of the information on the Register.

    The Deputy Registrar thanked members for the discussion and ideas for the ABR team going forward.

    7. Collaboration on Branching ABR data project

    Senior Director, ABR Mano Georgopoulos joined the meeting to discuss the work underway under Project 2 of the Towards a Better Business Future program.

    As mentioned earlier in the meeting the project will look at geocoding business addresses, including the physical location details of businesses with more than one location (branches), and details of all associates such as shareholders and directors of a business.

    Mr Georgopoulos suggested in the first instance that the work will focus on including just addresses, based on limited advice from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Consultation with agencies is underway to ensure that the right information is being incorporated into the Register.

    The Deputy Registrar asked Members if there was any other vital information they would like to see included as part of the branching work.

    Several members advised that ANZSIC codes would be of great value. Advisory Board Members agreed to make enquiries within their agencies in relation to other information that could be included in this work and advise

    Action item:



    Advisory Board members to consult within their organisations and advise if there is any other vital information they would like included in the branching information being added to the ABR.

    Due Date:




    8. How ABR data is provided to government agencies

    Ms Natasha Bartlett, Director ABR, joined the meeting to provide an update on the work underway to improve the way ABR data is provided to partner agencies. This work is being done as Project 3 under the Towards a Better Business Future program.

    Ms Bartlett advised that they key deliverables of the project included:

    • Supporting data transfer
    • Searching business names, ABNs and associate details
    • Improving the ability to run industry, geographical and time based queries

    A consultation paper will be released later in October with consultations with agencies taking place between 8 October and 15 November.

    It was noted that this work will be of enormous benefit to the Local Government agencies who are not always able to access information currently due to the systems limitations.

    The Deputy Registrar thanked Mr Georgopoulos and Ms Bartlett for updating the meeting on the two projects.

    9 Other business

    The Registrar thanked members for attending the meeting.

    The next Advisory Board Meeting is scheduled for May 2013. The three preferred dates are:

    • 2 May 2013
    • 9 May 2013
    • 23 May 2013

    Details: 2pm to 5pm,

    Venue: McKay Boardroom, level 10, 26 Narellan Street, Civic, Canberra, ACT.

    Meeting closed at 5.10pm

      Last modified: 06 Mar 2015QC 38300