Govt takes steps to implement permanent digital business plan

Friday, 02 October, 2020

Govt takes steps to implement permanent digital business plan

The federal government is taking steps to implement a new digital plan that will modernise how Australians do business by removing outdated regulatory barriers and delivering significant benefits to consumers.

The digital plan improves the ability to undertake the witnessing and signing of crucial documents, as well as filing or registering documents with governmental and regulatory agencies electronically.

The President of the Law Council of Australia, Pauline Wright, said the government’s investment in a digital business plan is a win for consumers and business.

“There is no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis has forced a rethink of how technological solutions can be embraced to ensure that corporations can continue to conduct business despite social distancing measures. And there are significant, positive opportunities arising from the modernisation of corporations law,” said Wright.

Wright notes that this includes the potential for greater access and reduced costs, with companies being able to hold virtual meetings and executing documents electronically. The Law Council of Australia will work with the government to implement the Digital Business Plan and ensure that appropriate safeguards are embedded in the legislation, to protect those who may be vulnerable to exploitation or fraud in an online setting.

“The temporary measures that were introduced by the government recognised the critical role of technology enablers in supporting the continued operation of businesses and other entities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wright.

Wright stated that the Law Council will continue to advocate for the harmonisation of processes for e-signature and similar activities across the country.

“A national approach will remove the current inconsistency between jurisdictions and remove any uncertainty for consumers and business,” said Wright.

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) is also in favour of permanent changes allowing electronic transactions and virtual annual general meetings. The ABA is part of a coalition of business groups advocating for the fast-tracking of moves to a paperless, contactless digital economy.

ABA Chief Executive Anna Bligh AC stated that COVID-19 has highlighted century-old regulations slowing businesses down, and that these changes will make banking faster and easier.

“It’s now vital that state governments follow suit, and work together through the National Cabinet to ensure state and territories laws are consistent and enable consumers to conduct a range of everyday activities such as electronic mortgages,” said Bligh.

The ABA has also welcomed the government’s funding for implementing and expanding the Consumer Data Right for open banking, which will enable Australians to switch banks more easily and find products that suit their needs. The Consumer Data Right will enable the safe and secure transfer of consumer data. The ABA will work with the government to deliver the changes.

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