National Indigenous Australians Agency to undertake a comprehensive review
On 11 December 2019 the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, announced a comprehensive review into the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act). Forecast to take up to 12 months to complete, the review will consider whether the CATSI Act is serving its purpose, including as a special measure under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) will coordinate the review. For more information and to have a say on what the review should consider, see the NIAA page on the consultation and review.
Prior progress on reforms to the CATSI Act, 2016–19
More accountability, less red tape
In 2017 the Australian Government proposed reforms to strengthen and improve the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) 2006 (CATSI Act). The intention was to benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations by reducing red tape, especially for small corporations. Other proposed changes sought to increase transparency for members and to streamline and clarify some parts of the Act.
The proposed changes covered the topics of:
- size classifications
- rule books
- business structures
- meetings and reporting
- transparency of senior executives
- payments to related third parties
- special administrations
- voluntary deregistration
- compliance powers.
KPMG review of ORIC
In September 2016 the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet commissioned KPMG to conduct a review of the CATSI Act and ORIC. The product of the review was a report finalised in December 2016, Regulating Indigenous Corporations (PDF 2mb).
The purpose of the review was to inform considerations of how the Registrar can most effectively support the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations to maintain good governance and strong financial management, as well as any amendments to the CATSI Act required to meet this objective.
The overall assessment in the report of the review is that ORIC is doing a good job in the context of a challenging regulatory environment. There are many positive features, but also opportunities to enhance ORIC’s contribution to ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation are well governed.
Technical review of the CATSI Act
On 5 July 2017, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, announced that ORIC would lead a technical review of the CATSI Act.
The technical review was conducted in late 2017 and included stakeholder consultation. The CATSI Act commenced on 1 July 2007, and this was the first time a comprehensive review had been undertaken since the legislation came into effect. The purpose of the review was to explore ways to strengthen and improve the CATSI Act and aligning it with recent changes in corporate law and regulation, particularly in the Corporations Act 2001. For details see the following documents:
- Technical Review—terms of reference (PDF 24kb)
- Technical Review—discussion paper (PDF 102kb)
- Technical Review of the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006—report by DLA Piper (PDF 1.4mb)
The review found a range of opportunities to make the law stronger and allow corporations to use it more effectively.
We undertook two rounds of consultations around Australia—the first in 2017 and the second in 2018. We'd like to thank everyone who participated in roundtable sessions, interviews and also wrote to us. We used your comments and feedback to help identify issues with implementing the proposed amendments to the CATSI Act, and to ensure corporations can comply with them.
For materials provided during consultations, download:
- a three-page summary (PDF 192kb)
- the 24-page discussion paper (PDF 358kb)—including information on making a written submission, and questions for you to consider
- a PDF of the presentation we're using to frame the consultation (1.3mb)—including illustrations and examples.
After the consultations we updated the summary of the reforms (PDF).
On 5 December 2018 the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Amendment (Strengthening Governance and Transparency) Bill 2018 was introduced into the Parliament.
On Thursday 11 April 2019, the Parliament was prorogued and the House of Representatives was dissolved, after the Governor-General agreed to the Prime Minister’s recommendation that an election be held on Saturday, 18 May 2019.
When the House is dissolved, all proceedings come to an end, and all bills before the Parliament lapse. Although the CATSI Act Amendment bill was introduced into the Senate on 5 December 2018, there was no debate and no passage of the bill, and therefore it lapsed. Should the incoming Minister wish to pursue amendments to the CATSI Act, the process will need to recommence.
The Registrar would like to acknowledge the efforts of everyone who participated in the consultations, made submissions and worked with ORIC on the Bill.