Legal

Action needed on bungled Business Names Register

Cara Waters /

The Federal Government cites the creation of a national Business Names Register in May as one of the ways it has cut red tape for businesses.

Unfortunately the reality is far different, with businesses complaining that the national register administered by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission has only made the process of setting up a business and registering a name even more difficult and time consuming.

SmartCompany first reported on this issue back in July and revealed long delays on the telephone lines to register a business, concerns over business names being taken during the 28-day lag time in transferring a business name, and privacy concerns as a result of the requirement for a physical address to be listed for home-based businesses.

At the time, an ASIC spokesperson said the regulator was working to rectify the problems and attributed many of the issues to “high demand”, citing 32,000 applications in the first seven weeks of the register’s operations.

That was July and now it is October and unfortunately the same problems are persisting.

Today, we report that shadow small business minister Bruce Billson’s office continues to be “inundated” with complaints from people who have had trouble accessing the ASIC website and registering and transferring a business name.

SmartCompany readers continue to complain that ongoing problems with the register mean business sales and transfers have been placed in doubt, private details of home-based business are publicly available and registered businesses appear to be at risk of having their names lifted and localised.

These are all significant problems, but problems that it was possible to have some level of sympathy for when they were still teething issues immediately following the launch of the website.

Now that it is five months on, the patience of businesses dealing with the system has worn thin.

There’s nothing wrong with a national system which cuts down on the duplication of resources and provides a central reference point for all businesses but such an important task needs to be administered properly.

ASIC must invest in eradicating the problems in the system and hiring extra staff to cope with the increase in its workload.

Business can’t put up with the bungled Business Names Register any longer.

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is the former editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter at the Financial Times website FT Adviser in London and she also worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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