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Acting for You, April 2023

by CATHERINE MAXWELL FGIA FCG General Manager, Policy & Advocacy, Governance Institute of Australia 

OECD multinational enterprises meeting 

Governance Institute attended the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and OECD briefing meeting on the proposed changes to the OECD guidelines on multinational enterprises. The guidelines were last updated in 2011, and the OECD is trying to enhance their relevance to the contemporary context, including clearer environmental and data security due diligence guidelines.


ACNC Adviser Forum

Governance Institute attended the March ACNC Adviser Forum. It was the first Adviser Forum led by the new ACNC Commissioner Sue Woodward AM. The forum heard updates from Treasury and the ATO. The main topics discussed were:

  • enhancing charity register integrity
  • identifying compliance risks and the ACNC program focus areas
  • charity subtypes for hospitals
  • reviewing annual financial reports
  • aspects of the Australian Accounting Standards relevant to charities.


The ACNC has recently written to more than 1,000 charities which risk deregistration for repeated failure to meet their reporting obligations. The ACNC has also recently released information for charities considering contributing to conversations taking place about the Australian Government’s planned referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.


Consultation into the government response to the Privacy Act Review Report


Following the release of the public consultation into the government’s response to the Privacy Act Review Report, Governance Institute has formed a working group of members to prepare a submission on the consultation. This consultation follows the passage of legislation in December 2022 to increase penalties for privacy breaches and the enforcement powers of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC). These changes follow the high-profile 2022 cyber breaches at Optus and Medibank Private.


The consultation document is complex and extensive, with 116 proposals to strengthen and modernise Australian privacy law which impact companies and organisations of all sizes in all sectors.


Governance Institute considers given the magnitude of the proposed changes it will be critical to allow sufficient time for organisations to introduce the proposed changes. Many of the recommendations relate to new powers and new responsibilities for the OAIC. It will also be extremely important for the regulator to have sufficient funding and resources to take on these additional responsibilities.


We will keep members updated on this important issue.


Positioning Australia as a leader in digital economy regulation: Consultation on the Electronic Transactions Act (ETA)

Governance Institute has been an active participant in the efforts to improve the technology neutrality of Treasury portfolio laws via Treasury’s Modernising Business Communications initiatives. Our members experience first-hand the impact of the patchwork of inconsistent legislation and outdated business practices that act as barriers to the digital economy. They experienced the increased uptake of electronic tools such as email, computer storage, e-signing platforms and electronic meeting technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of electronic tools exposed out of date paper-based business practices to which they do not wish to return.

In our submission to the Attorney-General’s Department on the ETA, we made the following comments:

  • There needs to be a clear, consistent approach to the issues of consent, signatures, exemptions and record keeping to help resolve the current inconsistent patchwork of Commonwealth and State legislative and administrative requirements.
  • There is a need for greater interaction with other major reform programs and cross agency communication and cooperation for the Act to be successful.
  • Any legislative change should enable those who still wish to use wet ink signatures and hard copy to do so, but should also facilitate the move to e-transactions.
  • Consent requirements should be clear, consistent and practical.
  • A consistent e-commerce approach is long-overdue.
  • Record keeping requirements remain a major barrier to e-commerce and should be addressed.

We will keep members updated on this issue.

Policy and advocacy strategy 2023

Our 2023 policy and advocacy strategy is now available on the website.  The strategy outlines our key focus areas for the year which include: maintaining our participation in the Modernising Business Registers project, advocating for the implementation of climate change financial reporting standards which take account of Australian conditions, establishing a Parliamentary Friends of Governance Group, working to implement national fundraising principles and participating in the forthcoming review of the fourth edition of the ASX Corporate Governance Council Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations. We will also continue to update and develop our collection of Good Governance Guides and other tools.


Consultation into the Government Response to the Privacy Act Review Report — 31/03/2023

Positioning Australia as a leader in digital economy regulation — Consultation on the Electronic Transactions Act (ETA) — 20/03/2023


Media releases

NSW voters urged to think about ethics and integrity at the ballot box — 22/03/2023 

Can employees be required to work additional hours?

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