Page 4761 - Week 11 - Thursday, 20 October 2011

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That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to introduce in the Assembly today the Business Names Registration (Transition to Commonwealth) Bill 2011, which will repeal the Business Names Act 1963 and associated subordinate legislation.

The government is committed to providing a nationally consistent system for business names registration, to make it easier to carry on a business in the ACT and around Australia. The aim of these reforms is to facilitate consumer protection and allow businesses to register once regardless of how many jurisdictions they operate in. The new national system will also reduce red tape, thereby saving businesses time and money.

This bill reflects the ACT’s commitment to implement the intergovernmental agreement for business names signed by all states and territories on 2 July 2009 and tabled in the Assembly on 18 August that year. This follows the 2007 agreement by the Council of Australian Governments to adopt a national business names registration scheme.

The intergovernmental agreement includes a commitment by the parties that the levels of service provided under the national scheme will not be less than services currently provided in the state and territory systems. I am confident that this bill will provide a seamless transfer of business names registration functions to the commonwealth.

To ensure there is no disadvantage to any ACT businesses, the provisions in this bill enable the automatic registration of business names under the national system with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. The Office of Regulatory Services will provide ASIC with the details of the ACT business name register so that registrations of individual businesses will be carried over unchanged.

This bill will ensure a smooth transition to the national system by preserving some of the arrangements under the existing Business Names Act for a transition period. Name renewals will continue with the Office of Regulatory Services up to one month after the day the national scheme commences, which at this stage is anticipated to be in May 2012. Decisions by the Office of Regulatory Services to cancel a registration can also be challenged in the Supreme Court up to two months after changeover day.

Businesses in the ACT will benefit from this national scheme which will mean that businesses which operate across jurisdictions pay lower fees for registration and renewal. Businesses and the community will also benefit from no longer needing to be registered in each state or territory in which they trade. Businesses trading across jurisdictions will be saved from incurring additional expenses and reporting burdens. This will increase competition in the territory.

The new national system will also enhance consumer protection by allowing consumers and traders to identify and locate those trading under a business name through a national register of business names. It will also attempt to prevent the registration of business names which are inappropriate, likely to offend, mislead or deceive consumers and traders.

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