• Features

    ABR partnerships create a shared national asset

    We are at an important ‘tipping point’ for the register. The ABR is now a richer product, ready for its next phase of development and use. In a significant shift we see the ABR becoming a shared asset that is widely used by all government agencies as the national business register.

    Queensland government agency to use ABR as own register

    As the quality of ABR data continues to improve, the number of government agencies approaching the ABR to explore opportunities for collaboration also increases.

    One is the Queensland Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games (DTESB) which manages the Business and Industry Portal (BIP) as a franchise of the Queensland Government's One Stop Shop Strategy.

    This Queensland department has been a long-standing ABR partner and has an agreement in place to use ABR data to support its interaction with businesses. This has included using ABR data to identify small businesses and providing access to services to support growth and improve productivity.

    They have also used ABR data to support disaster recovery activities affecting businesses impacted by floods and inundation from Cyclone Oswald in 2013 and cyclones Marcia and Nathan earlier this year.

    In June, representatives of DTESB met the ABR team to get a better understanding of ABR data and how it can add value to a number of their projects through direct integration with the Business and Industry Portal and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.

    Looking to use the ABR as a ‘single source of truth’ for business identity information, the DTESB planning team focused on access to ABR data and how it is maintained and updated.

    The Executive Director, Business Online Solutions at DTESB was keen to explore a range of issues.

    ‘We had quite a few questions around getting access to data as we were looking at building an ABR repository to host and store data to support our CRM and portal projects,’ he said.

    'As this will need to be a source of truth for business information, we need to look at options for how we will manage this data and keep it refreshed.’

    The department was also interested to see if there were plans for agencies to be able to look up full public and private data through an application programming interface as this would enable real-time access.

    As a result, the department is now progressing plans to prototype a proof of concept for a new web service for ABR data. This is planned to be delivered by the end of the 2015 calendar year. Ultimately this work is expected to streamline interactions with business and enable DTESB to provide better service to customers.

    The diagram below illustrates the streamlined interactions between business and the Department, and the ABR via their customer relationship management application.

    Figure 9: streamlined interactions as a result of integration with the ABR

    Figure 9: streamlined interactions as a result of integration with the ABR

    ABS investigating SBR for business reporting

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has received an investment of $250 million from the Australian Government to enable it to modernise its systems and infrastructure over the next five years.

    As part of its transformation agenda, the ABS is looking at ways of improving how it collects statistical data, consistent with the government’s digital transformation and red tape reduction initiatives. SBR is being looked at closely for this purpose.

    The potential of SBR to improve the collection of official statistics has been recognised by the ABS and it is working collaboratively with the ABR and the ATO to identify and assess opportunities for its adoption.

    The Program Manager, Acquire@ABS, presented a paper on Transforming ABS data acquisition at the Australian Business Software Industry Association Forum in May 2015.

    This presentation gave early advice to the software developer community of the ABS intentions to use SBR as a component of its data acquisition plans.

    The Acquire@ABS Program Manager noted 'SBR offers an opportunity to enable easier and more convenient reporting for business.'

    'Utilising SBR for the acquisition of data from business will assist the ABS to produce a range of quality statistical data,' he said.

    As an initial step a technical prototype is planned to establish a trial SBR gateway for the ABS. This will act as a proof of concept for the acquisition of survey data from businesses using SBR-enabled software.

    The diagram below illustrates how an SBR-enabled business system, together with AUSkey authentication could reduce the reporting burden for businesses in completing ABS reports.

    Figure 10: An example of how the SBR-enabled business system could reduce the reporting burden for businesses in completing ABS reports

    Figure 10:  SBR-enabled business system_reduction of reporting burden

    100 ABNs in 2014–15

    In 2014–15 there were a total of 7,204,305 active ABNs. Here is a distribution of active ABNs in 2014–2015 as represented by '100 ABNs' at 30 June 2015.

    For the 100 ABNs we are referring to the percentage of the population as a whole.

    Who is a typical ABN holder?

    As at 30 June 2015, a typical ABN holder is most likely to be a sole trader providing personal services in NSW and born after June 1986.

    By state and territory

    ABN holder by state and territory


    ABN holder by Generation

    By industry

    ABN holder by Industry


    ABN holder by Companies

    By entity type

    ABN holder by entity type


    ABN holder by Trusts

    By age of ABN

    ABN holder by age of ABN

    Government agencies (Federal, State, local)

    ABN holder by Govt agencies



    ABN holder by Partnerships

    Sole Traders

    ABN holder by SoleTraders


    ABN holder by Superfunds

      ABR helps with emergency response 

    Due to a slight increase in the number of disaster events together with a larger number of areas impacted by disasters in this period, the number of datasets provided to government agencies in 2014-15 increased by 116% to 54, compared to 25 in 2013–14.

    South Australian Government agencies use ABR data during Sampson Flat bushfire

    When bushfires hit Sampson Flat in South Australia in January 2015, the Registrar provided data to government agencies to support their disaster response and recovery efforts.

    The ABR information was used across all levels of government to provide intelligence about the businesses in and around the disaster area.

    At the height of the response, the South Australian Country Fire Service (CFS) used the ABR data for risk analysis to identify and map businesses in the areas around the fire front that may have hazardous materials.

    Feedback from a number of agencies indicated the data was useful in planning emergency response activities.

    'We used it to identify hazardous industries in and around the event,' said a CFS officer.

    Emergency Management Australia also used the data to help identify the industries that were likely to be impacted by the bushfires within the affected areas.

    Figure 12: The South Australian Country Fire Service used ABR data to map businesses with possibly hazardous materials against the moving fire front at Sampson Flat in January 2015. The fire front is indicated by the red line and dots are businesses that have ANZSIC codes that may relate to hazardous materials

    Figure 12: The SA Country Fire Service using ABR data

    The Department of Communities and Social Inclusion South Australia mapped the ABR information as part of the joint agency recovery activities. The data was then used to identify businesses in the fire scar, and the Department of State Development used this information to contact the businesses and provide support.

    The Department of State Development found that using the data was so successful that it is planning to develop a mobile form application to be used post-disaster.

    The ABR data will be used to populate the form in the field to enable better impact assessment of the disaster and better co-ordination of support for the affected businesses.

    This information will also be reported to the federal government under the National Impact Assessment Model to support Natural Disaster Funding.

    Measuring ABR Integrity 2015 (ABR Survey 20)

    Each year we survey ABN holders to measure the accuracy of key data fields on the Register. The latest survey results reflect the significant program of work undertaken in 2014-15 and earlier to improve the integrity of the information on the Register. Here is a 'snapshot' of the key findings from Measuring ABR Integrity 2015 (ABR Survey 20), conducted from April to June.

    Between April and June 2015, 2,520 ABN holders were contacted to measure the integrity of the business information held on the ABR. The survey shows significant improvements to the overall integrity of the register and the accuracy of key fields since the previous Survey 19 in 2014.

    Key result 1: redundant ABNs reduced

    Survey 20 found 80% of ABNs on the ABR are in use, compared to 72% in 2013-14, representing a 29% reduction in the number of redundant ABNs on the register.

    Table 1: ABNs in use by entity type

    ABNs in use by entity type

    In use 2014

    In use 2015

    % change









    Sole trader




















    Key result 2: ABN integrity improves

    Survey 20 has revealed that for ABNs in use, the key fields have improved across the board, with increases in correctness ranging from 3-20%.

    Figure 13: Key field integrity 2014-15

    Figure 13: Key field integrity 2014-15

    • Last modified: 07 Dec 2015QC 988