As part of the 2020 Budget Digital Business Plan, the government announced the full implementation of the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) Program. Legislation which enables the MBR program received Royal Assent on 22 June 2020.
The MBR Program will unify the Australian Business Register (ABR) and 31 business registers administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) onto a single platform. This platform will be administered by the Commonwealth Registrar (the Registrar) under legislation and as a separate statutory function of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
The MBR Program will include the introduction of a director identification number (director ID) which is a unique identifier that a director will keep forever. The director ID will help prevent the appointment of fictitious directors and facilitate traceability of their profile and relationships with companies over time.
This consultation process focusses on the new data standard and disclosure framework which support the commencement of the director ID regime.
The Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act) will be amended by the enabling legislation for MBR to provide that the Registrar may make data standards on matters relating to the performance of the Registrar’s functions and the exercise of the Registrar’s powers. The draft director ID data standard prescribes the information required to apply for a director ID under the Corporations Act including how the information is to be provided, used and stored.
The enabling legislation authorises the disclosure of protected information such as director ID information to government entities. Some Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (PGPA) bodies, courts and tribunals are part of the workings of government but do not fall within the definition of government entity. The draft director ID disclosure framework sets out the circumstances in which the Registrar may disclose director ID information to these bodies in the same way as government entities.
In the coming weeks, the Treasury also intends to consult on draft legislative instruments relating to transitional application periods for directors to apply for a director ID. These draft instruments will provide new and existing directors with an extended timeframe to apply for a director ID during the early stages of the regime. This will enable the MBR Program to test the director ID system in a live environment without disadvantaging directors that are not involved in the testing phase.