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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 1 Hansard (16 February) . . Page.. 384..

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (5.11), in reply: I thank members for their support of this bill. The Business Names Registration (Transition to Commonwealth) Bill is an important part of the reforms signed up to by the Labor government under the seamless national economy initiative. This initiative aims to deliver more consistent regulation across jurisdictions, reduce excessive compliance costs on business and reduce restrictions on competition. The bill aims to implement some of these objectives by creating consistent regulation across jurisdictions for business name registration. Recognising the importance of a nationally consistent regime, COAG agreed to adopt a national business names registration scheme in 2007. The bill represents the ACT's commitment to implement this decision following the signing of the intergovernmental agreement by all states and territories in 2009.

Business will benefit from just one registration with Australia-wide application. The bill removes the administrative and cost burdens on businesses of registering in each state and territory in which they trade. For a place like the ACT, where businesses trade across borders quite often, it is a very important reform. The bill will make it easier for businesses in the ACT to carry on business in both the ACT and across the borders. The new system will reduce expenses and reporting burdens currently imposed on them.

The national scheme will include lower fees for registration and renewal, and this will benefit many businesses that also operate outside of this jurisdiction. Consumer protection will be enhanced by the national register, which will make it easier for consumers and traders to identify and locate particular businesses. The national register will prevent the registration of inappropriate business names that are likely to offend, mislead or deceive consumers and traders.

The national consistency will be achieved with an identical or nearly identical test for assessing a proposed business name. In other words, if a business proposes a business name that is identical or nearly identical to an interstate name, the business will not be able to register that name. For existing names which are already registered and are identical or nearly identical, geographical identifiers will be used. Existing businesses with identical or similar names will be able to continue trading, but ASIC may insert an identifier such as "ACT"on the register. The business name itself will not include "ACT", so businesses will not need to change stationery or signage. This ensures that existing businesses will not be disadvantaged.

The bill includes transitional provisions to enable a smooth transition of business names registration to the commonwealth so that businesses will not be disadvantaged or inconvenienced. This will be achieved by provisions that allow automatic registration of business names and others that preserve some of the existing arrangements under the ACT Business Names Act for a short period. For example, the Office of Regulatory Services will be able to continue to process applications for up to one month after had scheme commences. ORS decisions can also be challenged in the Supreme Court for up to two months after commencement.

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