The Treasury is seeking stakeholder opinion on new legislation to clarify the ability of regulators to hold virtual hearings and examinations.
The proposed Treasury Laws Amendment (Modernising Business Communications) Bill 2022 (Cth) will amend existing regulator legislation to enable respective authorities to hold technology-based hearings and examinations. Respective authorities that will be affected by the amended regulator legislation include:
- Australian Securities and Investments Commission
- Australian Competition and Consumer Competition
- Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority
- Australian Energy Regulator
- Tax Practitioners Board, and
- Companies Auditors Disciplinary Board.
This amendment is designed to improve the efficiency and accessibility of hearings and examinations for all parties involved. Current legislation does not provide sufficient clarity on the use of technology for hearings and examinations, especially following the emergency temporary technical changes following COVID-19. The Bill currently provides that regulators will have the option of holding physical, virtual, or hybrid meetings at their discretion. If hearings or examinations are held virtually, all participants must be provided with a reasonable opportunity to participate or be represented, and members of the public must be granted the reasonable opportunity to observe. There is no set definition for these virtual hearings enabling regulators to use whatever form of technology they believe fit to meet the legislative requirements. These amendments also form part of the Treasury’s revised package to modernise business communications.
The Treasury is presently seeking public consultation up until 26 September 2022. Interested parties are invited to provide their opinion on these changes. Submissions may be most easily made via email to email@example.com.
For a full reading of the Bill, see here.