ASIC Search Fee Changes For Citizens and Journalists

30 July 2018

Centre Alliance has welcomed the Government’s announcement to reduce fees for accessing certain information from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) online business registries from 1 July 2019.

Significantly, the exemption that is currently available to some journalists for certain registry searches will be extended to all journalists for all ASIC registry searches.

“This is great news for corporate transparency and accountability," said Senator Rex Patrick.

“These measures will boost investigative journalism. Fees for journalists discourage the very important work they do in uncovering corruption, mischief and wrongdoings in all spheres of public and corporate affairs.”

Searches of corporate information are a vital tool as journalists investigate company structures, shareholdings and directors’ interests and potential conflicts of interest, including those of politicians.

Access to information on ASIC’s databases is essential in efforts to uncover corruption, corporate tax avoidance, money laundering and other criminal behaviour including the financing of terrorism, as well as uncovering covert influence on our democratic political system.

The removal of fees will be particularly helpful for journalists working for smaller media organisations which would otherwise be discouraged from undertaking in-depth research.

The fees for certain searches have also been reduced for the general public. According to research from Kickr and the Fair Tax Foundation, Australia has the highest fees for access to financial statements.

“Centre Alliance has advocated strongly for these changes to occur. This is a very significant turnaround from 2016 when the Government announced plans to privatise the registry, a move that was strongly opposed by former Senator Nick Xenophon,” said Rex.

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