Acting for You, September 2017

Proposed amendment to s 169 of the Corporations Act

In last month’s column, I reported on Governance Institute’s submission to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee on the proposed amendment to s 169 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act) which would require companies to include a member’s email address on their share register. The amendment was proposed by Senator Xenophon and was a response to the difficulties faced by disgruntled members of the CPA to communicate their concerns about the governance of that organisation with their fellow members. In particular, one member, Brett Stevenson, applied for a copy of the register of the CPA in order to communicate with CPA members via email. However, as the Corporations Act does not require email addresses of members to be included in the register, Mr Stevenson only received the names and physical addresses of the CPA membership. As the CPA has over 155,000 members, contacting each member by mail was prohibitively expensive for him.

Governance Institute gave evidence at the Senate Inquiry Hearing on 2 August. During our appearance, Governance Institute stressed that while we strongly supported changes to the Corporations Act to make it fit for purpose for the 21st century and to embrace technology, we considered that the proposed amendment, in its current form, had many unintended and undesirable consequences, particularly for listed companies, namely:

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