You can download a printable version of the year in review 2010-11 (1.56MB) in portable document format (PDF).
To assist businesses in their interactions with Australian government. We do this by:
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:
To achieve our business intent, we:
In maintaining the register, we:
Our values are:
The key objective of the A New Tax System (ABN) Act 1999 and the Australian Business Register (ABR) is to streamline business and government interaction – making it easier for businesses when dealing with government. The Australian Business Number (ABN) and AUSkey are enablers of these interactions.
In 2010–11, we held firm to our vision of providing authoritative information and reducing the cost of compliance. We focused on improvements to the delivery of online services which support business and government interactions and include streamlined registration, authentication and reporting. Input from scrutineers, the ABR Advisory Board and the community assisted us to more rapidly develop policies and set strategic direction to further enhance these whole-of-government services.
In continuing our work to assure that the ABR delivers on its intent to make business interaction easier and efficient, this year the ABR has worked to ensure that:
Significant achievements this year included:
I am pleased to present the Australian Business Register year in review report, covering the financial year 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011.
This report outlines how we continue working to make it easier for businesses and all levels of government to interact.
We publish this report as part of our open and accountable governance process. It supports our assurance to partner agencies and other interested parties that we are effective and efficient administrators of the register.
Michael D’AscenzoRegistrar of the Australian Business Registerand Commissioner of Taxation
During 2010–11, it became obvious that our strong focus on responsiveness and rapid turnaround times for registration needed to be enhanced by improved compliance and associated interpretation activities.
We have noticed a trend in applications for ABNs which suggest that people are applying for an ABN when they are not eligible. This is compounded by an emerging belief in the community that obtaining an ABN is a virtual sign-off by government that there is a valid business in operation.
In 2011–2012, we will continue our work to ensure that entities issued with an ABN should have been issued with one and remain eligible. We will increase our focus on the accuracy and currency of the register.
In the coming year we will also consider enhancements to the register including the geocoding of ABN records. This will provide very accurate physical location information for a business and will be of great value to those government agencies who are responsible for physically constrained areas.
We will investigate how we could provide further information about entities who have multiple operational sites, which will allow them to better plan for service delivery and infrastructure development. Currently these are only displayed on the register as corporate headquarters. We will continue to work with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to improve this outcome.
To progress the intent of the ABR in 2011–12 we will:
Our priorities for 2010–11 aim to enhance the way we work across agencies and with business to position the ABR, ABN and AUSkey within government and the community.
We collaborated with the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and other agencies on the Council of Australian Government (COAG) ABN business names registration project. The ABR will support an ASIC business name registration through the provision of real-time services. This approach will ultimately enable new entities, who have applied for an ABN or are in the process of applying for an ABN, to apply for a business name online in a single transaction.
As part of the joint project, we continued to redevelop the ABR platform to accommodate this initiative. This new platform will make it easier to offer new services including business name services from the ABR in future.
AUSkey, the new online authentication solution, has achieved rapid and widespread acceptance. During the 12 months since implementation we issued more than 420,000 AUSkeys, which are used by over 260,000 businesses.
We continued our work with government agencies and business to show how AUSkey can be adopted as part of normal business processes and allow secure communication to multiple agencies through the use of a single identifier. As at 30 June 2011, there were 12 government agencies who had adopted AUSkey as the authentication solution to interact with businesses online.
We continued to progress the ABR as a whole-of-government resource and community asset. This work involved engagement with government and business to promote the value and benefits of business and government registration services, authentication and reporting capabilities.
We conducted user research with partner agencies in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales to learn more about their systems, business processes and interactions with business. The user research report identified a range of issues and new ideas for consideration. These included the provision of additional data items, improvements or additions to ABR services and areas of concern regarding data quality.
Our commitment to increase awareness of the ABR saw take-up of ABR data and services continue with 89 new partnership agreements in 2010–11. This growth has brought the total number of partnerships to 272 – a 42.4% increase from the previous year. Local councils accounted for the majority of new partnerships, with a total of 157 council partners as at 30 June 2011.
During the year we:
This year ABR data was used to support new social policy initiatives such as the Paid Parental Leave scheme administered by Centrelink. Centrelink has also adopted AUSkey as the authentication mechanism for online applications, allowing employers to pre-fill application forms with their details.
We continued to develop and refine the ABR data query tool, a free software product that enables agencies to run searches and analyse data without the expense of developing their own systems or software. We conducted training sessions with 15 local council partners, helping them to understand how the tool can be used to analyse and extract data relevant to their local government area. As at 30 June 2011, there were 82 data query tool users. This demonstrates a growing interest in the use of our data and electronic delivery channels.
We released ABR Report Mart – a new service allowing partner agencies to access useful reports and measure business trends. Growth in use of ABR data and services was demonstrated through an increase in the number of data extracts we issued. We issued 800 bulk data extracts to agencies, a 59.0% increase from the previous year.
Monthly searches of ABN Lookup during the year peaked at 21.5 million. On average, there were 15 million searches a month to verify details of businesses, up 55% on 2009–10.
Data extracts issued
We adopted the bulk data exchange (BDE) as one of our online data delivery channels. BDE provides faster and easier access to bulk ABR data over the internet through a secure network. Data files are transferred electronically to a designated mailbox.
We assisted 196 agencies to access public data from ABN Lookup, compared to 140 agencies in 2009–10.
Table 1: Data extracts issued
Number of data extracts issued
Table 2: Service take-up by ABR partner agencies*
Bulk data extracts (data disc)
Bulk data extracts (bulk data exchange)
Online subscription to an ABN (agency services)
ABN Lookup (public data)
* Some agencies access data through more than one channelABR partner agency satisfaction
In 2010–11, we improved the way we measured agency satisfaction. We now focus on three key service elements – data quality, data delivery and client support. These three elements allow us to better understand which aspects of our service require greater attention.
Table 3: Partner agency satisfaction rating
Data delivery service
Client support service
The following case studies provide examples of how business and government agencies have benefited from accessing ABR data.
Using the Australian Business Number (ABN) as the key business identifier has streamlined the way Centrelink’s customers report income through their automated self help income-reporting service.
Centrelink Director, Connectivity, Infrastructure Services Branch Tim Willson said their Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service allows customers to report their employment income.
‘Access to ABR data contributes to maximising our automation rates and improving the integrity of our data,’ Tim said.
The Centrelink IVR asks the customer a series of questions about their employment income including the name of their employer.
If the employer is not listed against the customer’s record:
Customers are provided with a receipt number, information about their payment and their next date to report.
‘The IVR service automates the reports of more than 100,000 callers per fortnight which makes it the most used of all Centrelink’s self-help services,’ Tim said.
‘Among all the infrastructure and communications elements that make up this complex reporting service, the consistent performance of the link to the ABR more than meets our needs for availability and reliability.’
Using the ABN as a unique identifier, and the ABN Lookup system to confirm data in real time, enables Centrelink customers to save time when reporting employment income.
The new ABR data query tool is helping Manningham City Council in Victoria to save money and build a clearer picture of business in their region.
Joseph Tobacco, senior economic development officer for Manningham City Council, said that before introduction of the query tool they knew the basic makeup of their region but were never able to use ABR data to its full potential.
‘Because we lacked the IT infrastructure to manipulate the dataset, we had to rely on private consultants to conduct business profiling activity,’ Joseph said.
‘However, with the help of the tool, we have progressed from using an Excel spreadsheet and are in good stead for future economic profiling activity.’
The council has also been able to incorporate the data from the ABR query tool into their geographic information system enabling them to visualise and analyse the information spatially.
‘Looking at the region geospatially allows us to more accurately identify where businesses are located, helping with infrastructure planning and compliance in our region,’ Joseph said.
The free to use ABR query tool, allows Manningham City Council to extract the information they need to provide local businesses with the necessary infrastructure services.
ABR data is helping to stimulate economic growth and create jobs in Sutherland Shire, New South Wales.
For three years, the council has been using email addresses contained in their ABR data extracts to survey home-based businesses about their needs and how the council could assist them.
Email provides the council with a low cost option for dealing with clients and allows recipients to respond easily and quickly.
Sutherland Shire Council economic development manager Anne Flisher said their survey aimed to ensure that local businesses were getting the help they need to grow and succeed.
‘There are about 52,000 businesses in our local area and about 43,000 of these are home-based businesses,’ Anne said.
‘Through our survey business owners can choose the support and services they need to help take their business to the next level.’
Support available to local businesses include workshops, seminars and coaching sessions.
As at December 2010, 77 businesses have participated in the council’s business program and more than 400 jobs have been created.
‘ABR data is essential to our operations as no other business database provides email addresses’ she said.
Using business email address data available from the register, provides an efficient and effective way for Sutherland Shire Council to understand and support their client’s needs.
In July 2010 a division was created within the ATO to work specifically on whole-of-government initiatives. This sharpens the focus and permits the key whole-of-government assets of ABR, AUSkey and SBR to be housed within a single business area.
We continued to provide transparency to our partners, government and the community by:
To deliver the benefits derived from accessing ABR data and to ensure we provide a trusted source of business identity information, we worked to improve the integrity of data held in the register by:
There were 7,004,042 active ABNs in the ABR as at 30 June, 2011. This is a 6.2% increase compared to the previous year and consistent with growth experienced in 2009–10.
Table 4: Active ABNs
We continued our focus on ensuring only those entities entitled to an ABN are registered. This resulted in our refusing 36,727 ABN registrations. Intelligence from the integrated ABN entitlement tool was used to support ATO compliance initiatives by providing input and referrals about risk behaviours in specific industries. It continues to reduce the number of ineligible registrants.
Client-initiated ABN cancellations
We cancelled 141,836 ABNs at the request of the ABN holders who had ceased operating an enterprise. This is a 16.4% increase compared to the number of ABNs cancellations initiated by clients in the previous year.
Table 5: Client-initiated ABN cancellations
Registrar initiated ABN cancellations
We also continued to identify entities that have registered for an ABN but are no longer entitled to be registered, including deregistered companies, deceased clients, wound-up super funds and clients not reporting business income. The Registrar cancelled 51,103 ABNs as these entities were no longer or never had been eligible for an ABN. This reduces the potential for misrepresentation and misquotation of ABNs in the community.
Table 6: Registrar initiated ABN cancellations
The ABR has been able to leverage off compliance work conducted by the ATO. During 2009–10, 5,453 cases were referred to us. From those referrals, we cancelled 4,216 ABNs on the basis of the evidence provided with the referral and requested 1,193 ABN holders to provide further evidence of their entitlement.
The ABR Survey validates information that appears on the ABR by measuring the level of currency and accuracy of key data fields, including ABN status, main name, postal address, business address, email address, ANZSIC code, and telephone contact details.
In 2010, we selected a group of 1,800 ABN holders to measure the currency and accuracy of these data fields for the six core entity types (individual, partnership, trust, superannuation, company and government entities).
The survey was the first phone survey and the first time we measured the accuracy of contact telephone numbers and ABN entitlement.
Some key findings included:
The findings from this survey were used in planning our 2011–2012 work program.
Our processing functionality is managed by specialist ATO operational areas. On our behalf, they processed and maintained ABNs. They also processed and maintained digital certificate and AUSkey registrations which enable businesses to interact online with the ABR, the ATO and other agencies.
There were 534,147 new ABNs issued in 2010–11, representing a 4.9% decrease compared to 2009–10.
Table 7: ABN Registrations
There were 67,548 ABNs re-issued in 2010–11 as these businesses had recommenced operations. This is an 11.1% decrease compared to the previous year.
Table 8: Reissued ABNs
Updates to the ABR
There were almost four million updates made to ABN records in 2010–11. This represents a 21.9% increase when compared to 2009–10. This is partly due to the introduction of AUSkey in May 2010 which required applicants to update their ABN details before applying for the new authentication credential. Updates to the ABR are likely to continue to increase as AUSkey applicants continue to update their ABN business details online.
Table 9: Updates to the ABR
ABN registration trends
In 2010–11, businesses could apply for an ABN:
ABN applications by channel
About 96.2% of ABN applications were lodged online in 2010–11 compared to 93.2% in 2009–10. This demonstrates the community’s continuing shift towards web-based transactions.
Table 10: ABN applications by channel
Our performance against service standards
We measure how we perform in the delivery of ABN registrations using service standards. In 2010–11, we exceeded our service standard for ABN registrations by 0.7%.
Table 11: Performance against service standards
Active digital credentials
Active ATO PKI certificates continue to decline as AUSkey is adopted by business as the preferred authentication solution. ATO measures to support business migration to AUSkey are escalating to manage final transitions through 2011–12.
Table 12: Active digital credentials
Number of active AUSkeys
Number of active ATO PKI certificates
Digital credential processing
During 2011–12, we anticipate that AUSkey adoption will increase as businesses continue to take up online services and more agencies offer AUSkey authentication services.
Table 13: Digital credential processing
The Registrar of the Australian Business Register, Michael D’Ascenzo is responsible, under law, for administering the ABR and ABN.
This responsibility includes:
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.
David Butler is Second Commissioner Enterprise Solutions, Technology (EST) and Operations. In this role, he leads the business operations, technology and knowledge management functions of the ATO.
As at 30 June 2011, the ABR executive also consisted of the Deputy Registrar, Mark Jackson and the Assistant Registrar, Trisha Clarke.
The Deputy Registrar:
The Assistant Registrar:
Membership of the ABR Advisory Board is decided and approved by the ABR Registrar in consultation with Government.
The role of the board is to enable the best possible outcome in advancing the uptake of the ABR as a whole-of-government initiative as well as shape its future direction as a means of:
To deliver these services to business, there is a need for agencies to work together and share knowledge as allowed by the law. The board plays a key role in setting priorities for the program of work and assist in positioning the ABN, ABR and its services to fulfil their intended roles.
The board met in December 2010 and May 2011. These meetings contributed to shaping the strategic direction of the ABR and assisted us in our mission to achieve a sense of shared responsibility across government for managing the ABR.
Registrar of the ABR, Michael D’Ascenzo is the chair of the ABR Advisory Board. He takes account of input from the board, while continuing to determine priorities, establish and review objectives and communicate progress.
Commonwealth Agency membership
State, Territory and Local Government membership
Membership of the Advisory Board is decided and approved by the ABR Registrar in consultation with Government.
To ensure a balanced representation of users of ABR and its data, state, territory and local government representatives have been drawn from treasuries, revenue offices, economic, regional planning and business service providers.
As part of our internal planning processes we allocate resources, including money and people, to perform the activities needed to achieve services and deliverables. We use the ATO Strategic Costing Framework, to track, cost and report on these activities by mapping resources to the relevant deliverables and activities. This is undertaken as part of the internal budgeting process, and helps us to:
These actions ensure the efficient, effective and ethical use of our resources to deliver our commitments in accordance with the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997.
The total operating cost for managing the ABR during 2010–2011 was $68.9 million* with a supporting workforce of 394.
The key areas of work and associated costs attributable to the total expenditure, including property, equipment and governance are outlined in the following tables.
Table 14: The ABR
Processing of business applications for ABN registration
Management of policy, procedures and guidelines to support processing of ABN registrations
Ongoing review, analysis and assurance of ABN registrant eligibility and information
Maintenance of the register including updates to registrant information i.e. change of address
Facilitating the availability of ABN related information for government agencies and the community
Table 15: AUSkey
Processing applications for AUSkey registration
Management of policy, procedures and guidelines to support client registration for AUSkey
Table 16: IT system and support of the ABR and AUSkey
IT system upgrades, maintenance and support of the ABR and AUSkey
Table 17: Expenditure summary
Total workforce and support cost of the ABR
*The Commissioner of Taxation Annual report 2010–11 identifies the total actual expenses for Program 1.1.4: Australian Business Register as $108.8 million. This figure includes expenses for Standard Business Reporting (SBR) as a whole-of-government initiative, which is reported independently.
ABR partner agencies
Jurisdiction and agency name
Attorney General's Department
Attorney-General's Department (Australian Customs and Border Protection Service)
Attorney-General's Department (CERT Australia)
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Australian Communications and Media Authority
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Australian Crime Commission
Australian Electoral Commission
Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Australian Securities and Investments Commission
Australian Taxation Office
Australian Trade Commission (AUSTRADE)
Centrelink (Business Integrity Performance Branch)
Centrelink (Strategy and Capability Division)
Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
Defence Materiel Organisation
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Department of Finance and Deregulation
Department of Health and Ageing (NICNAS)
Department of Health and Ageing (Private Health Insurance Branch)
Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government
Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (ABN Lookup)
Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (Enterprise Connect)
National Vocational Education and Training Regulator
Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman
State or territory
Australian Capital Territory
ACT Long Service Leave Authority
ACT Planning and Land Authority
New South Wales
Department of Finance and Services
(Government Licensing Service)
(NSW Industrial Relations)
Department of Premier and Cabinet (Office of Environment and Heritage)
Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services (Office of Trade, Business and Industry)
Election Funding Authority (NSW Electoral Commission)
Long Service Payments Corporation
NSW Department of Education and Training
NSW Department of Human Services (Community Services)
NSW Food Authority
Office of State Revenue
Rail Corporation New South Wales (RailCorp)
Roads and Traffic Authority
Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority
Sydney Water Corporation
Technical and Further Education Commission
University of New South Wales
University of Technology, Sydney
WorkCover Authority of NSW
Department of Business and Employment
Department of Education and Training
Department of Justice (NT Worksafe)
NT Build Portable Long Service Leave
Police Force of the Northern Territory
Territory Revenue Office
Building and Construction Industry (Portable Long Service Leave) Authority
Contract Cleaning Industry (Portable Long Service Leave) Authority
DEEDI (Employment Industry Development and Innovation)
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (Trade and Investment Queensland)
Department of Justice and Attorney-General (Workplace Health and Safety)
Department of Public Works (Queensland Government Chief Procurement Office)
Department of Transport and Main Roads (Transport)
Office of Fair Trading
Construction Industry and Long Service Leave Board
Department for Families and Communities
Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology
Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology (Science and Information Economy)
Department of the Premier and Cabinet (SafeWork SA)
Department of Primary Industries and Resources (Fisheries)
Department of Trade and Economic Development
Office for Recreation and Sport
Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts
Department of Justice (Workplace Standards)
Tasmanian Planning Commission
Tasmanian State Revenue Office
Tasmanian Water and Sewerage Corporation (Northern Region)
Tasmanian Water and Sewerage Corporation (North-Western Region)
Tasmanian Water and Sewerage Corporation (Southern Region)
Country Fire Authority
Department of Business and Innovation
Department of Business and Innovation (Information Management and Technology)
Department of Health
Department of Human Services
Department of Justice (Consumer Affairs)
Department of Justice (Infringement Management and Enforcement Services)
Department of Planning and Community Development
Department of Primary Industries - Shared Business Systems
Department of Treasury and Finance
Essential Services Commission
Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board
Office of Housing (Department of Human Services)
State Revenue Office
The University of Melbourne
Victorian WorkCover Authority
Construction Industry Long Service Leave Payments Board
Corruption and Crime Commission of Western Australia
Department of Education Services
Department of Mines and Petroleum
Department of Treasury and Finance (Government Procurement)
Department of Water
Insurance Commission of Western Australia
Mid-West Development Commission
Small Business Development Corporation
Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation (t/a Healthway)
Wheatbelt Development Commission
Armidale Dumaresq Council
Ballina Shire Council
Bankstown City Council
Blue Mountains City Council
Campbelltown City Council
City of Canada Bay
City of Canterbury
City of Newcastle
Coffs Harbour City Council
Dubbo City Council
Eurobodalla Shire Council
Fairfield City Council
Gosford City Council
Hawkesbury City Council
Holroyd City Council
Hornsby Shire Council
Hurstville City Council
Lake Macquarie City Council
Lismore City Council
Liverpool City Council
Liverpool Plains Shire Council
Mosman Municipal Council
North Sydney Council
Parramatta City Council
Penrith City Council
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council
Queanbeyan City Council
Shoalhaven City Council
Sutherland Shire Council
The Council of the City of Sydney
The Hills Shire Council
Tweed Shire Council
Wagga Wagga City Council
Willoughby City Council
Wingecarribee Shire Council
Wollondilly Shire Council
Alice Springs Town Council
Central Desert Shire Council
Darwin City Council
Banana Shire Council
Brisbane City Council
Cairns Regional Council
Central Highlands Regional Council
Gold Coast City Council
Gympie Regional Council
Ipswich City Council
Isaac Regional Council
Lockyer Valley Regional Council
Logan City Council
Mackay Regional Council
Moreton Bay Regional Council
North Burnett Regional Council
Redland City Council
Rockhampton Regional Council
Scenic Rim Regional Council
Somerset Regional Council
Southern Downs Regional Council
Sunshine Coast Regional Council
Toowoomba Regional Council
Adelaide Hills Council
Berri Barmera Council
City of Charles Sturt
City of Holdfast Bay
City of Marion
City of Onkaparinga
City of Playford
City of Port Adelaide Enfield
City of Salisbury
City of Tea Tree Gully
City of Unley
City of West Torrens
Port Pirie Regional Council
Rural City of Murray Bridge
The Barossa Council
Wattle Range Council
Clarence City Council
Glenorchy City Council
Hobart City Council
Huon Valley Council
Launceston City Council
Meander Valley Council
West Tamar Council
Alpine Shire Council
Banyule City Council
Bass Coast Shire Council
Baw Baw Shire Council
Benalla Rural City Council
Brimbank City Council
Cardinia Shire Council
City of Ballarat
City of Boroondara
City of Casey
City of Greater Dandenong
City of Greater Geelong
City of Kingston
City of Port Phillip
City of Stonnington
Corangamite Shire Council
Darebin City Council
East Gippsland Shire Council
Frankston City Council
Greater Shepparton City Council
Hume City Council
Knox City Council
Macedon Ranges Shire Council
Manningham City Council
Maroondah City Council
Melbourne City Council
Melton Shire Council
Mitchell Shire Council
Moira Shire Council
Monash City Council
Moonee Valley City Council
Moreland City Council
Mornington Peninsula Shire
Murrindindi Shire Council
Nillumbik Shire Council
Northern Grampians Shire Council
Rural City of Wangaratta
Shire of Campaspe
South Gippsland Shire Council
Southern Grampians Shire Council
Towong Shire Council
Warrnambool City Council
Wellington Shire Council
Whitehorse City Council
Whittlesea City Council
Wodonga City Council
Wyndham City Council
Yarra City Council
Yarra Ranges Shire Council
City of Bayswater
City of Belmont
City of Bunbury
City of Cockburn
City of Fremantle
City of Gosnells
City of Joondalup
City of Mandurah
City of Perth
City of Rockingham
City of Subiaco
City of Swan
City of Wanneroo
Shire of Esperance
Shire of Mundaring
Town of Bassendean
Town of Vincent
AUSkey Adopters as at 30 June, 2011
Australian Business Register
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Revenue Office (Australian Capital Territory)
Office of State Revenue (New South Wales)
Territory Revenue Office (Northern Territory)
Office of State Revenue (Queensland)
State Revenue Office (Western Australia)