Federal-state relations - standard business reporting

Budget Review 2010-11 Index

Budget 2010–11: Federal-state relations

Standard business reporting

Kali Sanyal

The Standard Business Reporting (SBR) program was launched in August 2007 by the Howard Government following consultation by a committee of Commonwealth and state government officials in 2006.[1] The Rudd Government has also supported the program, and it has since been incorporated into the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) reform agenda.[2]

In the 2010–11 Budget, the government has earmarked $73.2 million over five years as ongoing funding to the program (as well as moving $16.7 million from unspent development funding in 2009–10 to 2010–11). This funding is allocated to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Department of the Treasury to maintain and operate the SBR program. The measure also includes $2.6 million in 2010–11 to the states and territories to enable them to manage and operate their components of the SBR system.[3]

The SBR program is focussed on harmonising the definitions, procedures and reporting requirements for information provided to governments. Practically, the aim is to reduce compliance costs for a wide range of businesses through the establishment of an IT-based system which allows businesses to report to relevant authorities in a consistent manner. This removes the need for businesses to individually report to various government agencies at the Commonwealth, state and local levels.[4]

SBR enables businesses to use a single, secure, sign-on (known as AUSkey) to send financial reports to participating agencies, which include the Australian Bureau of Statistics, APRA, ASIC, ATO, and all state revenue offices. Businesses will no longer need to log-in to separate systems to submit their financial reports to each of these agencies, therefore making e-commerce with government more viable for business.[5]

In 2008, the government invited tenders for IT software developers to design and develop the system, and with the 2010–11 Budget allocation, the SBR enabling technology is expected to be progressively introduced and taken up by business from July this year.[6]

The government has indicated that once fully implemented, SBR could save Australian businesses an estimated $800 million per year.[7] According to research undertaken when the program was first mooted in 2006, a similar program introduced in the Netherlands generated an estimated €350 million savings per annum for small and medium sized businesses.[8]

More detailed information about SBR is available at www.sbr.gov.au.

[1].    P Costello (former Treasurer), Business reporting burden to be slashed, media release, no. 84, 30 August 2007, viewed 14 May 2010, http://ministers.treasury.gov.au/DisplayDocs.aspx?doc=pressreleases/2007/084.htm&pageID=003&min=phc&Year=2007&DocType=0; P Costello (former Treasurer), Reducing Business Reporting Costs, media release, no. 89, 15 August 2006, viewed 14 May 2010, http://ministers.treasury.gov.au/DisplayDocs.aspx?doc=pressreleases/2006/089.htm&pageID=003&min=phc&Year=2006&DocType=0; See also: Australian Government, ‘SBR: Timeline’, Standard Business Reporting website, viewed 14 May 2010, http://www.sbr.gov.au/About_SBR/Timeline.aspx 

[2].    Council of Australian Governments’, Standard Business Reporting, COAG meeting, 3 July 2008, viewed 14 May 2010, http://www.coag.gov.au/coag_meeting_outcomes/2008-07-03/docs/standard_business_reporting.pdf 

[3].    The budget figures in this brief have been taken from the following document unless otherwise sourced: Australian Government, Budget measures: Budget paper no. 2: 2010–11, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2010, p. 296, viewed 13 May 2010, http://www.aph.gov.au/budget/2010-11/content/bp2/download/bp2.pdf

[4].    Australian Government, ‘SBR: How SBR Works’, Standard Business Reporting website, viewed 14 May 2010, http://www.sbr.gov.au/About_SBR/How_SBR_works.aspx 

[5].    Australian Government, ‘SBR: Background’, Standard Business Reporting website, viewed 14 May 2010, http://www.sbr.gov.au/About_SBR/Background.aspx

[6].    See: ‘SBR: Timeline’, op. cit.

[7].    C Bowen (Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law and Human Services), Continuation of standard business reporting, media release, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 11 May 2010, viewed 14 May 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/media/pressrel/4JOW6/upload_binary/4jow60.pdf;fileType=application/pdf#search=%22Standard%20Business%20Reporting%22

[8].    Reducing Business Reporting Costs, op. cit.