Wednesday, 12 February 2020
Commonwealth Registers Bill 2019, Treasury Laws Amendment (Registries Modernisation and Other Measures) Bill 2019, Business Names Registration (Fees) Amendment (Registries Modernisation) Bill 2019, Corporations (Fees) Amendment (Registries Modernisation) Bill 2019, National Consumer Credit Protection (Fees) Amendment (Registries Modernisation) Bill 2019; Second Reading
Goldstein, as a community, wants to make sure that we have proper financial regulation for our country and that businesses, small businesses and directors live up to their responsibilities and obligations to the Australian people. I don't think it's particularly different to any other electorate around the country.
What we have in the Commonwealth Registers Bill 2019 is a sensible and pragmatic approach by this government to address a couple of things. Most importantly, it addresses wrongdoing and problems that occurred in the past when directors engaged in phoenixing and used it as an opportunity to cleanse themselves of their directorial history. The simple process of establishing a director identification number will play an important and critical role in making sure that those who do the right thing—who fulfil their duties and obligations, consistent with the law and the purpose of an organisation—are respected and that those who do the wrong thing by workers, by creditors and by those people with whom they have engaged in business are held to account. Of course, the opposition are standing up and claiming credit and everything else. Well, in the end, they had the chance to do many of these things before, when they were in government, and they chose not to. It's taken this government to get on with the job of making sure that dodgy directors out there are held to account. That's what we're doing. We don't talk the talk, as they like to; we walk the walk. That's what we're focusing on: making sure that we get the right outcomes.
We want Australians to have a high degree of trust in people who are engaged in enterprise, who are innovating, who are putting their capital, their energy and their labour on the line to build a more successful country. We want people to engage in an economic environment anchored around trust because that's the pathway to more investment and more money going into growing businesses to create jobs. That's the very fulfilment of the Liberal ideal—that, through shared participation, innovation and reward for effort, through a trust based system anchored around property rights and contracts, we get economic development, which advantages everybody. That's what this bill, in its own, small, modest way, contributes to. It makes sure that dodgy directors are held to account. If they have engaged in conduct for which they should be held to account, just because the business has closed down does not mean they should be able to operate other businesses or other directorships without regard to their past misconduct. It is incredibly important that we hold to account people who do the wrong thing by Australians.
The other thing this bill does, which is very important, is make sure that the registers of the Australian Business Register and ASIC are harmonised to integrate 32 existing business registers into a single platform to be administered by the Australian Business Registrar. This is a relatively straightforward measure, when you look at it in terms of the engagement that Australian people have around business registrations, but it's incredibly important for streamlining so many of the processes used when engaging with government. We'll be able to use the power of technology in a very simple and straightforward way to remove burdens, barriers and hurdles for everyday Australians who want to make good wicket and good stick out of their lives. We want people to register businesses. If they're registering businesses then, in the words of the Prime Minister, they're having a go; they're taking the risk because they can see the potential for growth into the future. While this isn't going to dramatically change people's behaviour, it's one small barrier that can be streamlined to the advantage of investment and growth and to remove complexity and hurdles from people's lives. Of course, to do so, the government is putting in place the IT infrastructure that underpins Australia's business registry services which need to be addressed to meet demand for registry services now and into the future. To facilitate the implementation of the new registries system a legislative package has been drafted that creates a new regime that is flexible, technology neutral and governance neutral—in short, designed to make sure that Australians can do what they need to do best.