• Australian Business Register year in review 2009-10 report

    You can download a printable version of the year in review 2009-10 report (1.7MB) in portable document format (PDF).

    Australian Business Register at a glance

    The Australian Business Register (ABR) is an extensive database of identity information provided by businesses when they register for an Australian business number (ABN).

    The ABR makes it easier for businesses and all levels of government to interact using a unique identifier the ABN.

    Our mission

    To assist businesses in their interactions with Australian government. We do this by:

    • providing a unique business identity number that supports data sharing and whole-of-government online authentication
    • making business registration information accessible to government agencies, thereby supporting economic and social development programs that benefit the community
    • helping businesses to meet their regulatory obligations.

    Our business intent

    To streamline government and business interactions and provide an accurate and comprehensive record of businesses to meet the needs of the community and government. We do this by positioning:

    • the Australian Business Register (ABR) as the authoritative source of business identity information
    • the Australian business number (ABN) as a unique identifier
    • AUSkey as a security token that enables businesses to safely access government services online.

    Our role

    To achieve our business intent, we:

    • promote the ABR as a whole-of-government resource
    • develop and maintain the register as the authoritative and credible source of business identity information
    • facilitate interactions between government and businesses registered with an ABN
    • provide ABR information to eligible government agencies
    • provide the community with convenient access to publicly available details, such as the ABN and goods and services tax (GST) status of businesses.

    In maintaining the register, we:

    • register clients for an ABN and AUSkey
    • ensure that records are current and accurate
    • cancel the registrations of entities that are no longer active or entitled to an ABN or AUSkey.

    Our values

    Our values are:

    • being fair and professional
    • applying the rule of law
    • supporting people who want to do the right thing, including being fair but firm with those who don’t
    • being consultative, collaborate and willing to co-design
    • being open and accountable
    • being responsive to challenges and opportunities.

    Summary of performance

    The ABR helps streamline online dealings between businesses and all levels of government. The ABN acts as the unique identifier enabling these interactions.

    Our significant achievements in 2009–10 include:

    • delivering the AUSkey service on 17 May 2010 in collaboration with key partner agencies
    • progressing the design of a combined ABN business name registration service in collaboration with key partner agencies
    • adding 71 new agencies to our partner program, giving them access to ABR data and services. This takes the number of partners from 136 to 207
    • issuing 503 data discs to partner agencies (more than double that of the previous year) assisting them with registrations, compliance, procurement and data analysis
    • introducing new tools and services, such as the ABR data query tool and a postcode filtering capability that refines the data provided to partner agencies
    • conducting consultative forums with 140 representatives from 97 partner agencies
    • formulating plans to establish a new whole-of-government division within the ATO that brings together the administration of the ABR, including AUSkey, and Standard Business Reporting (SBR).

    We also:

    • improved tools and processes which allowed us to refuse 56,899 attempted ABN registrations in cases where the ABN should not be issued
    • processed 3,272,757 updates to the ABR including 26,205 Registrar-initiated ABN cancellations and 121,796 client-initiated ABN cancellations
    • processed 561,881 new ABN registrations.

    Overview

    Message from the Registrar 

    I am pleased to present the Australian Business Register year in review report, covering the financial year 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010.

    It outlines for our partner agencies and stakeholders what we have done to make it easier for businesses and all levels of government to interact.

    It also provides information on the growth of the ABR and on the approaches we have taken to ensure that the information in the register is current and accurate.

    Michael D'Ascenzo AO
    Registrar of the Australian Business Register and Commissioner of Taxation

    The year ahead 2010-11

    The year ahead will be a significant year for the ABR as we switch our focus from planning and preparation to deployment of various projects.

    We will maintain our focus on the new and emerging needs of our growing number of ABR partners and the community. We will continue to respond to challenges and opportunities, and turn our minds to the next suite of products and services that will deliver value to our partners.

    With this in mind, we will focus on the following five key strategies for the year ahead.

    Progress major projects and service refinement opportunities with government agencies and other stakeholders to build confidence in the ABR

    Refining our services and progressing key projects will help to further establish the ABR as the government’s business register. In support of this priority in 2010–11 we will:

    • begin to deliver the services that position the ABR as a multi-agency registration authority for the AUSkey credential and promote its take up by businesses and their intermediaries
    • in collaboration with government agencies, begin to deliver the ABN Business Name Registration project which will enable businesses to:
      • register for an ABN and a business name in a single transaction
      • access and maintain government registration and licence information through the new business online services being developed by Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR)
       
    • identify and leverage linkages between the ABR and other whole-of-government projects and initiatives
    • identify and progress changes that improve service delivery across agencies and reduce the regulatory burden on business.

    Increase agency understanding and encourage further engagement and use of our services

    Enhancing the ABR’s role as a whole of government resource requires further growth in agency use and reliance on the register and its services. To increase uptake of the ABN and ABR services (including AUSkey) by government agencies we will:

    • promote use of the ABN by government agencies as the key identifier for business
    • build greater understanding of agency processes and priorities to identify opportunities to extend use of ABR data and services
    • promote service improvements, particularly those related to electronic channels, that increase ABR partner use of ABR data and services
    • promote use of ABR data and services to potential users with direct links to business
    • roll out a program of communications that will build a greater understanding by partner agencies of the ways that ABR services could streamline interactions between business and government.

    Strengthen our governance and reporting processes

    Creating understanding and instilling confidence in our custodianship of the register will support adoption of the ABR, ABN and AUSkey. We will continue to refine our governance and reporting processes to ensure the work we do is more transparent, independent of the work of the ATO and takes into account the needs of business and government. This year we will:

    • leverage the stewardship provided by the ABR Advisory Board to further progress the ABR as a whole of government resource
    • implement reporting mechanisms that support the ABR in its role as a multi-agency registration authority
    • maintain separable ABR planning, reporting and governance processes while leveraging those of the ATO.

    Improve the integrity of ABR data

    To ensure that the ABR provides a trusted source of business identity information to business and government, we will:

    • progress data assessment and exchange processes in conjunction with external agencies
    • implement a structured data integrity and compliance strategy
    • establish integrity indicators and effectiveness measures for core ABR data items
    • remove ineligible registrants from the ABR
    • investigate how the Registrar’s powers may be better utilised to protect and improve the integrity of the ABR
    • enhance our quality assurance processes to maintain integrity of the data on the register, and the integrity of the register as a whole
    • develop and maintain relationships with service delivery partners to ensure the achievement of ABR outcomes on data integrity.

    Support and assist achievement of acceptable service standards

    We will maintain Australian business number and AUSkey registrations by:

    • providing support in ABN, AUSkey and related registrations to facilitate businesses meeting their legal obligations and support the ABN and AUSkey as a whole of government identifiers
    • work to continually improve service delivery.

    Report on performance 2009-10

    Progress major projects and service refinement opportunities with government agencies and other stakeholders to build confidence in the ABR 

    AUSkey 

    In 2009-10, we worked with key stakeholders to deliver and implement AUSkey, the new multi-agency authentication solution providing business with a single key for secure business-to-government online interactions. The absence of a multi-agency security credential has been a significant inhibitor to take-up of online service delivery channels provided by government to business.

    AUSkey was developed as a key component of the Standard Business Reporting (SBR) program, which aims to reduce the reporting burden for businesses in Australia. It was deployed on 17 May 2010.

    In developing AUSkey, we worked with key stakeholders to ensure the authentication solution strikes the right balance between usability and security, in order to facilitate take-up of government online services.

    AUSkey is an important step in our goal to make it easier for businesses to deal with government online. Businesses can now register for the new credential at abr.gov.au/auskeyExternal Link In addition to using AUSkey for dealing with the ABR and the ATO, businesses can use it to report securely online to participating government agencies through Standard Business Reporting (SBR)-enabled financial, accounting or payroll software.

    ABN Business Names Registration Project 

    The ABN Business Names Registration project is a collaboration between the ABR, the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and other agencies. It will allow a new business to register for an ABN and Business Name in a seamless, online transaction through the ABR.

    We are also rebuilding the ABR and upgrading its underlying technology platform, allowing us to offer business registration services on behalf of other government agencies in the future.

    The first release of the upgraded ABR:

    • includes a new, contemporary look and easier to use screens
    • improves our ability to collect, store and share address information by validating business and postal addresses against Australia Post records
    • integrates AUSkey registration service into the ABN transaction, allowing business to register for an ABN and an AUSkey at the same time.

    This year we focused on the design of our new systems. We collaborated with tax professionals and businesses of all sizes to ensure that new transactional screens were suitable for users of our services. These new systems will provide businesses and their representatives with a faster and easier online registration experience and allow them to begin using their AUSkey almost immediately.

    Implementation of the ABR data query tool and new filtering options 

    With local government agencies making up approximately half of all ABR partners, it has become increasingly important to deliver services that support these agencies in their use of ABR. Agencies asked for tools and services that would:

    • allow them to use ABR data with minimal IT investment
    • limit the amount of data provided in extracts so that they could more easily manipulate ABR data in off the shelf software products
    • allow them to quickly and easily run standard queries to identify data trends.

    To meet these needs, the ABR developed two key products – the ABR data query tool and a new postcode filter. The ABR data query tool is a database developed for partner agencies. To ensure that the new tool meets their needs, we piloted it with a number of our partners. Based on feedback, we made improvements to the query tool and developed an accompanying user guide. The query tool includes a range of preloaded queries that allow agencies using small ABR data sets to search non public records, run queries to analyse industry coding data and identify registration trends. The ABN Lookup web service is also integrated into the query tool, allowing publicly available ABR information to be updated instantly.

    We also offered a new postcode filtering option for ABR data, allowing local councils to limit ABR data extracts to businesses within their region. Some agencies have reported a 95% reduction in the amount of data they receive. Based on a successful pilot, we made the postcode filter available to all agencies. The new filtering option also allows agencies to more easily import data into the ABR query tool.

    Increase agency awareness and engagement

    During 2009–10, we continued rolling out our program of planned communications, including consultative forums and newsletters. These help current partners gain greater benefit from accessing ABR data, as well as educate new partners about the benefits that can be realised from using ABR data and services.

    Throughout the year we:

    • held six consultative forums in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Adelaide that were attended by 140 representatives from 97 partner agencies
    • conducted individual agency visits in all states and territories
    • issued ABR Update newsletters in September, January and April.

    We also refined the partnering framework to ensure it continues to support the engagement and retention of ABR partner agencies and where possible, extends their use of ABR data.

    Throughout the year we:

    • increased take-up of ABR data and services with 71 new partners gaining access to ABR data and services, increasing partnerships from 136 in 2008–09 to 207 in 2009–10
    • promoted the new ABR data query tool, giving it to 68 agencies
    • offered a new postcode filter, issuing 33 postcode filtered data extracts to agencies
    • worked with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to pilot access to the ABR using FEDlink, a secure network for Australian Government agencies
    • renewed 22 of 26 partnership agreements.

    Snapshot of performance

     

    Agency users per channel:  2008–09  2009-10 

    Bulk Data (DVD)

    121

    174

    Online ABN Search

    4

    5

    Online Subscription to an ABN

    4

    5

    ABN Lookup (public data)

    77

    140

     

    Agency satisfaction rating  2008-09  2009-10 

    *Rating scale

    1 – Very dissatisfied

    2 – Dissatisfied

    3 – Satisfied

    4 – Very satisfied

    3.42

    [52 responses]

    3.64

    [109 responses]

    Under the memorandum of understanding with our partners, we have an obligation to dispatch data discs within 14 days of a request. This year, we were able to improve our performance in delivering discs and met this standard 91.65% of the time, a significant achievement considering that the number of data discs issued were more than double that of last year.

     

    Agency satisfaction rating  2008-09  2009-10 

    Percentage of bulk data extracts provided < 14 days

    90%

    91.65%

     

    Agency satisfaction rating  2008-09  2009-10 

    Number of data discs issued

    230

    503

    Improve our governance and reporting processes

    In 2009–10 we continued to refine our governance framework to provide transparency and trust amongst ABR stakeholders with a focus on improvements to our reporting framework. These enhancements will provide our users with greater confidence in our administration and understanding of our strategic direction and priorities.

    Whole-of-government leadership

    In 2009-10 we finalised plans for a new whole-of-government division within the ATO that brings together administration of the ABR and Standard Business Reporting (SBR). This plan will take effect from July 2010 and provides a level of focus and direction that better positions us to achieve our intended outcomes for government and community.

    ABR Advisory Board

    This inter-agency advisory board was established in 2008–09 with the Registrar as the chair to help guide ABR priorities and program of work.

    The Advisory Board met in December 2009 and April 2010. The stewardship provided by the Advisory Board has continued to influence our strategic direction, refined the business plan and helped progress the register as a whole-of-government resource.

    In 2009–10 the Advisory Board has provided input on:

    • 2010–11 ABR Business Plan and priorities
    • positioning the ABR as a whole of government resource
    • the identification of ABR risks and associated mitigation strategies
    • the continuing development and definition of ABR integrity and effectiveness measures
    • potential to provide geo-coded address data in the ABR
    • potential areas of growth for AUSkey as a whole-of-government resource.

    Governance and Reporting

    We have kept our partners, the government and the community informed of our aims and achievements by providing information in the quarterly ABR newsletter, the ABR website, our consultative forums and the 2008-09 Year in Review Report.

    Separation of ABR within the ATO Program Framework for 2010–11 will also provide further delineation of the activities of the Registrar. The program framework outlines the programs that we administer to deliver services and benefits to individuals, businesses and the community as a whole.

    Adoption of an ABR logo

    Portfolio secretary approval of the logo change was granted, with the new logo being progressively rolled out to all ABR products. The new logo will also be added to the ABR website during Release 1 of the ABN Business Name project.

    This new logo better reflects the ABR's role in servicing other agencies, government and the community.

    Improve the integrity of ABR data

    As the number of ABR partners grows, and their use of data expands, the impact of any integrity related issues becomes magnified. This is particularly true as agencies become increasingly reliant on ABR data as a means of understanding the business sector within their area of influence. Agencies, in particular local government, use ABR data for decisions on economic development, land planning and advice on business location. To support the government in making informed decisions it is important that the ABR:

    • only registers those entities that are entitled to an ABN,
    • cancels the ABNs of entities no longer entitled to an ABN
    • ensures its data conforms to agreed standards, and where possible, adopts standards that are used uniformly across government
    • ensures its data holdings are validated against other registers, particularly those seen as being the authoritative data source.

    Our integrity work in 2009–10 has balanced the need to identify and address current areas of risk, with opportunities to deliver long term improvements in the future. Key examples of this include improvements to address validation services and cross-agency data sharing and update processes. Some of these improvements are directly reliant on the implementation of our new ABR system being delivered in 2010–11.

    In 2009–10 we progressed a number of activities to maintain and improve the integrity of the ABR.

    Up front validation – Eligibility tests

    Our online entitlement tests led to 56,899 individual registrants being refused an ABN as they were unable to satisfy eligibility requirements. The intelligence from the tool was used to support compliance work of other agencies including the ATO by providing input and referrals about risk behaviours in specific industries.

    This work has lead to a 15.43% decrease in ABN applications from individuals.

    Quality assurance

    The ABR continued to work to ensure appropriate quality assurance processes were in place. These measures check the accuracy of ABN and AUSkey registrations at the point of registration. They also check the accuracy of ANZSIC coding. QA processes are based on the internationally recognised Integrated Quality Framework.

    The ABR has agreements in place that acceptable levels of quality will be achieved and maintained. The quality levels are regularly analysed by the ABR.

    Cancellation of ineligible registrations

    As more agencies have begun using ABR data to identify business activity within their regions, it has become increasingly important to remove ineligible entities from the register in a timely manner.

    The Registrar cancelled 26,205 ABNs where the entity was identified as no longer or never being eligible for an ABN. We are also actioning cancellation referrals from the ATO where entitlement to an ABN no longer, or has never, existed. These cancellation referrals have resulted from targeted audit activity. We have also identified key risk areas for future ABN eligibility campaigns.

     

    Registrar initiated cancellations (Entity Type)   2009-10 

    Individuals 

    6,247

    Companies 

    19,780

    Superannuation Funds 

    105

    Partnerships 

    29

    Trusts 

    44

    Total RIC 

    26,205 

    The decrease in the number of Registrar cancellations compared to last year was due to insufficient resources being made available to conduct mail-outs to potentially ineligible clients. Additional funding is to be sought this year to allow for greater numbers of Registrar initiated ABN cancellation programs to be run.

    Integrity indicators and effectiveness measures

    Partner agencies are interested in the effectiveness of our processing system and the integrity of our data holdings. They would like us to establish some key performance indicators. Workshops were conducted with partner agencies in Brisbane and Canberra to determine what core data items should be included in this framework.

    We are conducting a phone survey with ABN holders to measure the currency and accuracy of these data items. We are also investigating the potential of using third party data sources to improve the accuracy of ABR data holdings.

    The ABR implements a range of data quality programs and processes including:

    • an integrated quality framework that standardises processes and allows for increased efficiencies
    • a phone survey with ABN holders
    • an annual service review with partner agencies
    • the online ABN entitlement tool for sole traders
    • post-registration reviews
    • Registrar-initiated cancellations
    • benchmarking (planned to occur after the survey of the core data items).

    To assess the effectiveness of the ABN processing and maintenance program, we monitor and manage:

    • our performance against taxpayer charter standards
    • the amount of time taken to process work
    • the amount of work on hand.
    • Partner agencies have requested we provide more detailed information about:
    • processing timeframes and work on hand
    • specific client groups, for example reports based on entity type or state of operation
    • when records were last validated
    • why ABNs have been cancelled
    • the currency of ABR data.

    We are currently looking at what information we are able to provide to agencies.

    Maintain service standards

    ABN Applications 

    The ABR:

    • issued 561,881 new ABNs
    • re-issued 75,958 ABNs where the business recommenced operations
    • refused 56,899 applications due to applicants being assessed as ineligible for an ABN.

    ABNs issued

     

    Entity Type  2007-08  2008-09  2009-10 

    Companies 

    105,290

    96,024

    105,851

    Government 

    129

    113

    95

    Individuals 

    333,627

    320,333

    311,648

    Partnerships 

    47,677

    39,400

    40,740

    Super Funds 

    34,355

    32,924

    31,440

    Trusts 

    76,366

    62,877

    72,107

    TOTAL 

    597,444 

    551,671 

    561,881 

     

    ABNs re-issued  2007-08  2008-09  2009-10 

    ABNs

    39,639

    62,604

    75,958

    Processing rate for ABN applications

     

      2008-09  2009-10 

    ABN registrations

    551,671

    561,881

    % achieved < 7 days

    61.98%

    60.51%

    % achieved < 14 days

    70.88%

    71.50%

    % achieved < 28 days

    95.34%

    91.30%

    % achieved < 42 days

    99.10%

    97.30%

    Our target is to process 93% of ABN registrations within 28 days of receipt.

    While the ABR system was unavailable for only 454.33 hours during 2009–10, our ability to process ABN registrations was severely restricted for about 10 consecutive days. Combined with a 'just in time' processing approach, this made it difficult to meet our service standards during that time.

    ABN Lookup was unavailable for 28.46 hours during 2009/10 – this equates to 99.68% availability.

    The work on hand carried forward to the 2010–11 year was 10,124 compared to 32,716 in 2009–10, a 69.05% decrease from the previous year. This can be attributed to the increased focus on ABR related activities including the improved processes and increased flexibility of the processing workforce to deal with ABR related workloads.

    ANZSIC coding

    We added or updated 750,622 ANZSIC codes this year.

    Any clients newly registering for GST or PAYG Withholding are also required to have their ANZSIC code reviewed and updated if necessary.

    Updates to the register

    We processed 3,272,757 updates to the ABR including 121,796 ABN cancellations initiated by clients and 26,205 ABN cancellations initiated by the Registrar.

    GST and business tax file numbers processed

    The Registrar also facilitated registration transactions on behalf of the Commissioner of Taxation, resulting in:

    • 278,735 business tax file numbers
    • 216,029 GST registrations.

    ATO digital certificates and AUSkey 

    From 17 May 2010, we ceased accepting new registrations for ATO digital certificates and started issuing AUSkey – a new online multi-agency security credential.

    The number of active, (downloaded) ATO digital certificates had grown by 5.42% to 430,605 (up to 17 May 2010), compared to the growth rate of 15% in 2008–09. In addition to ATO digital certificates, at the end of June there were 52,731 active (downloaded) AUSkeys.

    Access to publicly available data 

    We provide members of the community with access to publicly available details such as the ABN and GST status of businesses. Updated ABR information is easily accessible via the ABN Lookup and Superfund Lookup online search facilities. The ABR website and ABN Lookup are among the most frequently used government websites in Australia. In 2009–10, on average, there were 9,741,595 searches a month on ABN Lookup to verify details of businesses. This shows the community's continued reliance on the ABR as a trusted source of business identity information and the ABN as the single business identifier.

    Data trends

    The active population as at June 2010 was 6,593,352.

     

    Active Population by Entity Type  2007-08  2008-09  2009-10 

    Individuals

    3,623,451

    2,714,781

    3,037,120

    Companies

    1,700,518

    1,477,335

    1,536,022

    Partnerships

    1,003,630

    699,438

    719,573

    Trusts

    805,010

    773,331

    837,308

    Super Funds

    432,406

    422,725

    450,221

    Government

    15,397

    13,210

    13,108

    TOTAL 

    7,580,442  

    6,100,820  

    6,593,352 

    The large scale ABN cancellation program run during 2008–09 contributed to the significant decrease in the number of active ABNs recorded in that year.

     

    ABN Registrations by Business Start Date by Entity Type  2007–08  2008–09  2009–10 

    Individuals

    319,375

    302,435

    354,937

    Companies

    95,251

    102,250

    115,182

    Partnerships

    38,624

    38,760

    52,546

    Trusts

    61,464

    66,407

    89,423

    Super Funds

    32,669

    29,715

    39,100

    Government

    107

    92

    136

    TOTAL 

    547,490  

    539,659  

    651,124 

    ABN registration trends over the past three years are different to the number of ABNs processed as the data is based on the 'business start date' rather than the processing or registration date. This provides a true reflection of when an enterprise begins, and is not impacted by processing times which can result in registrations being carried over between financial years.

    Case studies

    The following case studies demonstrate how various government agencies have benefited from accessing ABR data.

    Filling in data gaps in the Alice

    In Alice Springs, distance is no barrier to good planning when you have the right information.

    The Department of Regional Development, Primary Industries, Fisheries and Resources recently conducted economic profiling of the town.

    Principal analyst, Megha Raut, said ABR data provided a robust sampling framework for a business survey of the area, ensuring a more meaningful picture of the Alice Springs economy.

    'It helped us collect a broad range of economic data from a diverse cross-section of businesses and develop a definitive economic profile of Alice Springs,' Megha said.

    'It filled in the data gaps – identifying select businesses, specifically in small regions, and allowed us to identify areas of growth, strength and improvement.’

    The survey covered four key areas:

    • descriptive – such as industry, business turnover and number of employees
    • business performance – confidence and opportunities
    • business links – links by suppliers and market conditions by industry
    • business assistance – what, if anything, is required from the Northern Territory government to assist businesses.

    By cross-matching ABR business name and address data with administrative data from other government and business directories, the department identified 1,780 active businesses.

    The department contacted 600 of these businesses and completed 374 surveys. ABR address data was used to develop detailed maps for the department's field officers.

    To develop the maps, officers outlined town planning zones and highlighted areas according to specific industry groups.

    Next, they incorporated ABR and Northern Territory Government data to create a layered map providing the exact location of selected businesses.

    'This allowed us to identify all active businesses, including home-based businesses, with a street address,' Megha said.

    The economic modelling work in Alice Springs has attracted international attention and was published in Global Business and Economics Review.

    ABN worth its weight in gold to local council

    Access to the ABR has helped the Gold Coast City Council make significant improvements to their procurement processes, including faster payments to businesses and a reduction in community-funded operating costs.

    The council is the second largest in Australia with more than 3,300 staff.

    Efficient customer and supplier transactions are critical to the smooth running of the council's accounts payable function.

    The ABN is captured in business registration forms and the council verifies business details provided on those paper forms via the online ABN Lookup facility.

    When an invoice arrives, the ABN displayed is verified against the supplier's details held in the council's master file. If a discrepancy is found, the business is advised to update their information on the ABR and provide council with appropriate evidence.

    'The ABN is a reliable business identifier. With the Gold Coast City Council processing more than 162,000 supplier invoices each year, it is essential that we use the best available data. Access to the ABR gives us that.’

    The council also uses ABN Lookup to identify and eliminate duplicate records within their database.

    Gold Coast City Council periodically checks their supplier database against ABR data. This prevents the need for remedial activity during financial audits and reduces the risk of funds being paid in error and increases the opportunity to identify erroneous data more quickly.

    ABR unmasks misuse of Australian business numbers

    The ABN entitlement tool and refusal functionality helped in detecting and stopping misuse of Australian business numbers in the business community in 2009–10.

    ABR staff detected a large number of new ABN applications containing similar details that originated from a single organisation – a significant enterprise within a specific industry.

    Although applicants indicated that they were contractors, evidence pointed to them being employees and therefore not entitled to an ABN.

    The ABR collaborated with the ATO on further investigations which included compliance visits by ATO officers.

    Investigations uncovered widespread misunderstanding of the employee/contractor relationship throughout the whole industry.

    The compliance visit also resulted in other organisations within the same industry changing the status of their 'contractors’ to employees.

    While audit activities such as these contribute to the collection of tax revenue, they also ensure employees receive their correct entitlements. This could include:

    • receiving superannuation payments and leave entitlements
    • having withholding tax deducted or paid to the ATO on their behalf
    • being provided with workers compensation coverage.

    Cancelling ineligible ABNs improves the integrity of the ABR, making it a trusted source of information for our partner agencies and the business community.

    Management and accountability

    The Registrar 

    The Registrar of the Australian Business Register is responsible under law for administering the ABR.

    This responsibility includes:

    • registering clients for an ABN and an AUSkey, enabling them to become users of online government services
    • maintaining the ABR by ensuring records are current and accurate
    • providing the community with access to publicly available ABN information to assist in verifying core business identity and taxation registration information – for example, whether an entity is registered for GST
    • providing eligible government agencies with access to details of registered ABN holders.

    The Registrar collaborates with key agencies to ensure the ABR is positioned to support their requirements and achieve its intended outcomes. The Registrar is also the Commissioner of Taxation. These roles bear separate and distinct responsibilities.

    As at 30 June 2010, the ABR executive also consisted of a Deputy Registrar and an Assistant Registrar.

    The Deputy Registrar:

    • leverages relationships with government agencies through various consultative forums to promote sharing of data and to ensure the ABR continues to be a valuable whole-of government resource
    • is also a Deputy Commissioner of Taxation (a role separate and distinct from that of the Deputy Registrar).

    The Assistant Registrar:

    • takes a leading role in developing plans and progressing the ABR as the business register for government
    • manages the workforce to ensure efficient and cost-effective service to government and the community.

    ABR Advisory Board 

    The ABR Advisory Board, an inter-agency advisory board on which a number of government agencies are represented, met in December 2009 and April 2010.

    The board influences the strategic direction of the ABR, helps determine the priorities for the ABR program of work, and oversees the direction and delivery of future plans to progress the whole-of-government agenda.

    The Registrar of the ABR is also chair of the advisory board. He takes account of input from the advisory board, while continuing to determine priorities, establish and review objectives, and communicate progress.

    As at 30 June 2010, the Advisory Board membership consisted of:

    • Australian Bureau of Statistics: Deputy Australian Statistician
    • Australian Business Register: Registrar and Deputy Registrar
    • ACT Revenue: Commissioner
    • Australian Government Information Management Office: Chief Information Officer
    • Australian Local Government Association: Chief Executive
    • Australian Securities and Investments Commission: Commissioner
    • Australian Taxation Office: Chief Operating Officer
    • Consumer Affairs Victoria: Deputy Director
    • Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research: Deputy Secretary
    • Industry and Investments NSW: Senior Manager
    • Treasury: executive Director Revenue Group.

    Appendices

    The following table of ABR partners lists their jurisdiction and the data they access.

     

    Jurisdiction and agency name 

    Data access 

    Public 

    Non-public 

    Federal 

    Attorney General's Department

    X

     

    Australian Bureau of Statistics

    X

    X

    Australian Communications and Media Authority

    X

     

    Australian Securities and Investments Commission

    X

    X

    Australian Taxation Office

    X

    X

    Australian Trade Commission (AUSTRADE)

    X

    X

    Centrelink (Business Integrity Performance Branch)

    X

    X

    Centrelink (Strategy and Capability Division)

    X

     

    Defence Materiel Organisation

    X

     

    Department of Climate Change

    X

    X

    Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

    X

    X

    Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts

    X

     

    Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

    X

     

    Department of Finance and Deregulation

    X

     

    Department of Health and Ageing

    X

    X

    Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

    X

     

    Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (AUSINDUSTRY)

    X

    X

    Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (ABN Lookup)

    X

     

    Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (Enterprise Connect)

    X

    X

    Medicare Australia

    X

     

    Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman

    X

    X

    Productivity Commission

    X

    X

    State or Territory 

    Australian Capital Territory 

    ACT Long Service Leave Authority

    X

    X

    ACT Planning and Land Authority

    X

     

    Revenue Office

    X

    X

    New South Wales 

    Building and Construction Industry Long Service Payments Corporation

    X

    X

    Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water

    X

    X

    Department of Services, Technology and Administration (Office of Industrial Relations)

    X

    X

    Housing NSW

    X

    X

    NSW Department of Education and Training

    X

    X

    NSW Food Authority

    X

    X

    Office of State Revenue

    X

    X

    Roads and Traffic Authority

    X

     

    Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority

    X

    X

    Sydney Water Corporation

    X

    X

    WorkCover NSW

    X

    X

    Northern Territory 

    Department of Business and Employment

    X

    X

    Department of Justice

    X

    X

    NT Build Portable Long Service Leave

    X

    X

    Territory Revenue Office

    X

    X

    Queensland 

    Department of Education and Training

    X

    X

    Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (EIDI)

    X

    X

    Department of Justice and Attorney-General

    X

    X

    Office of Fair Trading

    X

    X

    Office of State Revenue

    X

    X

    QLeave - Portable Long Service Leave Authority (Building and Construction)

    X

    X

    Queensland Building Services Authority

    X

    X

    QLeave - Portable Long Service Leave Authority (Contract Cleaning)

    X

    X

    Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA)

    X

    X

    Queensland Treasury

    X

    X

    Queensland University of Technology

    X

     

    WorkCover Queensland

    X

    X

    South Australia 

    Construction Industry and Long Service Leave Board

    X

    X

    Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology

    X

    X

    Department of the Premier and Cabinet - SafeWork SA

    X

    X

    Department of Primary Industries and Resources (Fisheries)

    X

    X

    Department of Trade and Economic Development

    X

    X

    Office for Recreation and Sport

    X

     

    Revenue SA

    X

    X

    WorkCover SA

    X

    X

    Tasmania 

    Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts

    X

    X

    Department of Justice (Workplace Standards)

    X

    X

    Tasmanian Planning Commission

    X

    X

    Tasmanian State Revenue Office

    X

    X

    Tasmanian Water and Sewerage Corporation (Southern Region)

    X

    X

    Victoria 

    Country Fire Authority

    X

    X

    Department of Human Services

    X

    X

    Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development

    X

    X

    Department of Justice - Infringement Management and Enforcement Services

    X

    X

    Department of Planning and Community Development

    X

    X

    Department of Primary Industries - Shared Business Systems

    X

    X

    Department of Treasury and Finance

    X

    X

    Essential Services Commission

    X

    X

    Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board

    X

    X

    Office of Housing (Department of Human Services)

    X

     

    State Revenue Office

    X

    X

    Victorian Workcover Authority

    X

    X

    Western Australia 

    Construction Industry Long Service Leave Payments Board

    X

    X

    Corruption and Crime Commission of Western Australia

    X

    X

    Department of Treasury and Finance (whole-of-government procurement)

    X

    X

    Department of Water

    X

    X

    Small Business Development Corporation

    X

    X

    State Revenue Office

    X

    X

    Wheatbelt Development Commission

    X

    X

    Local Government 

    New South Wales 

    Albury City

    X

    X

    Armidale Dumaresq Council

    X

    X

    Ashfield Council

    X

    X

    Auburn Council

    X

    X

    Ballina Shire Council

    X

    X

    Campbelltown City Council

    X

    X

    City of Canada Bay

    X

    X

    Coffs Harbour City Council

    X

    X

    Fairfield City Council

    X

    X

    Hawkesbury City Council

    X

    X

    The Hills Shire Council

    X

    X

    Holroyd City Council

    X

    X

    Hornsby Shire Council

    X

    X

    Hurstville City Council

    X

    X

    Kogarah Council

    X

    X

    Lake Macquarie City Council

    X

    X

    Lismore City Council

    X

    X

    Liverpool Plains Shire Council

    X

    X

    Marrickville Council

    X

    X

    Mosman Municipal Council

    X

    X

    North Sydney Council

    X

    X

    Parramatta City Council

    X

    X

    Queanbeyan City Council

    X

    X

    Strathfield Council

    X

    X

    Sutherland Shire Council

    X

    X

    Tweed Shire Council

    X

    X

    Wagga Wagga City Council

    X

    X

    Willoughby City Council

    X

    X

    Northern Territory 

    Alice Springs Town Council

    X

    X

    Darwin City Council

    X

    X

    Queensland 

    Banana Shire Council

    X

    X

    Brisbane City Council

    X

    X

    Cairns Regional Council

    X

    X

    Central Highlands Regional Council

    X

    X

    Gold Coast City Council

    X

    X

    Ipswich City Council

    X

    X

    Lockyer Valley Regional Council

    X

    X

    Logan City Council

    X

    X

    Moreton Bay Regional Council

    X

    X

    Scenic Rim Regional Council

    X

    X

    Somerset Regional Council

    X

    X

    Sunshine Coast Regional Council

    X

    X

    South Australia 

    City of Charles Sturt

    X

    X

    City of Holdfast Bay

    X

    X

    City of Marion

    X

    X

    City of Onkaparinga

    X

    X

    City of Playford

    X

    X

    City of Port Adelaide Enfield

    X

    X

    City of Salisbury

    X

    X

    City of West Torrens

    X

    X

    Tasmania 

    Clarence City Council

    X

    X

    Glenorchy City Council

    X

    X

    Hobart City Council

    X

    X

    Huon Valley Council

    X

    X

    Kentish Council

    X

    X

    Launceston City Council

    X

    X

    Meander Valley Council

    X

    X

    West Tamar Council

    X

    X

    Victoria 

    Alpine Shire Council

    X

    X

    Banyule City Council

    X

    X

    Bass Coast Shire Council

    X

    X

    Cardinia Shire Council

    X

    X

    City of Boroondara

    X

    X

    City of Casey

    X

    X

    City of Greater Dandenong

    X

    X

    City of Kingston

    X

    X

    City of Port Phillip

    X

    X

    Darebin City Council

    X

    X

    East Gippsland Shire Council

    X

    X

    Frankston City Council

    X

    X

    Hume City Council

    X

    X

    Knox City Council

    X

    X

    Macedon Ranges Shire Council

    X

    X

    Manningham City Council

    X

    X

    Maroondah City Council

    X

    X

    Melbourne City Council

    X

    X

    Melton Shire Council

    X

    X

    Mitchell Shire Council

    X

    X

    Monash City Council

    X

    X

    Moonee Valley City Council

    X

    X

    Moreland City Council

    X

    X

    Murrindindi Shire Council

    X

    X

    Nillumbik Shire Council

    X

    X

    Rural City of Wangaratta

    X

    X

    Southern Grampians Shire Council

    X

    X

    Towong Shire Council

    X

    X

    Warrnambool City Council

    X

    X

    Wellington Shire Council

    X

    X

    Whitehorse City Council

    X

    X

    Whittlesea City Council

    X

    X

    Wodonga City Council

    X

    X

    Wyndham City Council

    X

    X

    Yarra City Council

    X

    X

    Yarra Ranges Shire Council

    X

    X

    Western Australia 

    City of Bayswater

    X

    X

    City of Belmont

    X

    X

    City of Bunbury

    X

    X

    City of Fremantle

    X

    X

    City of Gosnells

    X

    X

    City of Joondalup

    X

    X

    City of Mandurah

    X

    X

    City of Perth

    X

    X

    City of Subiaco

    X

    X

    City of Swan

    X

    X

    City of Wanneroo

    X

    X

    Shire of Esperance

    X

     

    Shire of Mundaring

    X

    X

    • Last modified: 06 Dec 2013QC 367