December 2020

From the Deputy Registrar
Michelle Crosby

A lot of great achievements have occurred since my last update.

In exciting news for the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer announced funding of $419.9 million in the 2020–21 Budget to fully implement the program. This announcement allows us to further ramp up our work to establish the future registry service and make it easier for businesses to interact with government.

The Business Registry Strategic Advisory Council met in late September to discuss our registry program of work. Despite this being the first-ever virtual meeting of the Council, it was a productive conversation about how we are improving the business registry experience and supporting our clients.

In mid-October, I had the pleasure of chatting with Alexi Boyd on her community radio show, Small Biz Matters, about the MBR program, my work as Deputy Registrar and how we are supporting the community and small businesses across Australia. I really appreciated the opportunity to chat with Alexi and connect with her small business listeners.  

As we approach summer, which typically brings an increased risk of natural disasters, we are reminding all Australian business number (ABN) holders to update their details when their circumstances change. These case studies demonstrate the value of ABR data in supporting communities and businesses and show how important it is to keep contact details up to date.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year! I hope you all take a well deserved break and I look forward to reconnecting with you in 2021.

Please let us know if there are more topics you’d like to hear about, and feel free to share this update with your colleagues and stakeholders.  


Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program update

As part of the government’s Digital Business Plan, that was announced in this year’s budget, funding was provided to enable the full implementation of the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program, including director identification numbers.

This highlights the importance and value of the MBR program and the director identification number initiative. The future registry service will transform the business registration and regulatory experience for the Australian community, and deliver a single, trusted source of business data.

If you would like further information on design and implementation of the MBR program, you can read the minutes of the MBR Business Advisory Group.

You can also email the MBR Engagement mailbox.

Director identification number initiative update

The government is introducing director identification numbers to help address illegal phoenix activity. This is when a new company is created to continue the business of a company that has been deliberately liquidated, wound up or abandoned to avoid paying its debts, including taxes, creditors and employee entitlements.

This can result in a number of negative impacts for the community, such as:

  • employees miss out on wages, superannuation and accrued employee entitlements
  • other businesses are put at a competitive disadvantage
  • suppliers or sub-contractors are left unpaid
  • the community misses out on revenue that could have contributed to hospitals, roads, education and other essential services.

At present, directors are not required to verify their identity. To help remove fictitious directors and improve data integrity, directors will need to prove their identity when they apply for a director identification number.

Director identification numbers will be issued to directors of a company, a registered Australian body or a registered foreign company. The number is issued to a person for life, even if they stop being a director, change their name or move overseas.

We’re currently consulting with stakeholders about the application process for director identification numbers and working with them on the communication strategy for the initiative.

Director identification numbers will be one of the MBR program’s first deliverables and further updates will be posted on the ABR website.

Business Registry Strategic Advisory Council meeting

The Business Registry Strategic Advisory Council provides support and strategic direction to the Registrar and will play a key role in shaping the future business registry service.

In late September the Council met, chaired by Chris Jordan in his role as Registrar of the Australian Business Register. The meeting included ATO representatives as well as members from industry and other federal, state and local government agencies.

The meeting agenda included presentations about our 2024 vision, progress in establishing the new registry service, plans to roll out director identification numbers, and how valuable ABR data has been in supporting government responses to the bushfires and COVID-19.

Despite this being the first-ever virtual meeting of the Council, members eagerly participated in the discussion and provided positive feedback on how we are improving the business registry experience and supporting our clients.

Members were especially interested in a prototype demonstration showing how directors might apply for their identification number. Registrar Chris Jordan emphasised the importance of making it easier for directors and businesses to comply with their obligations, sharing some anecdotes about how far we have come in improving the experience and services for the community.

News from the Deputy Registrar is available on the ABR website.

Last modified
8 Dec 2020