The Australian Chamber advocates for a competitive environment for business within an Australian economy that is fundamentally strong, growing and resilient, as well as stable and sustainable. To support economic growth, the Federal Budget should focus on improving productivity and better target government spending and policies towards initiatives that will boost economic activity such as well-considered infrastructure and workplace regulation reform.
The consolidation and modernisation of the Australian Business Register (ABR) and the 31 Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) business registers onto a single platform is welcome and long overdue. The consolidation of business registers will simplify business’ interactions with Government and reduce duplication. It will ensure that businesses need only ‘tell government once’. As such, the Australian Chamber strongly encourages the government to implement the MBR program and DINs as soon as possible.
The Australian Chamber generally supports the Government considering targeted, balanced and workable ways in which to reduce the incidence and incentives of directors and businesses to engage in fraudulent phoenix activities. It is important to note however, that measures should not inhibit responsible risk taking, innovation, entrepreneurship. Care needs to be taken to ensure our laws do not have the effect of discouraging business rescue.
The Australian Chamber is concerned that the ABN registry will be used as a tool to encourage compliance with tax obligations, particularly if poor tax compliance is used as a reason to cancel an ABN. The ABN system is a registry first and foremost, used as an identifier of businesses. There are other substantial enforcement provisions that can be used to ensure businesses comply with their statutory obligations. The government’s commitment to the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) Program provides an opportunity for significant changes to be made to the ABN system, which will strengthen its data integrity. The MBR program proposes to cleanse a significant amount of ABN data, reducing the risk of misuse of ABNs. The Australian Chamber cautions against applying temporary solutions to the ABN system without considering the broader impact of concurrent government programs such as the MBR Program.
The announcement of funding, in the 2018-19 Budget, to develop a business case to modernise the Government’s business registers was welcome and long overdue. There are many interactions that business has with Government. Duplication is a significant issue for business in many of these interactions, which unnecessarily adds to administrative costs. The consolidation of business registers will simplify business’ interactions with Government and reduce duplication. It will ensure that businesses need only ‘tell government once’.