The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need to update Australia’s outdated corporate
law, according to Senator Andrew Bragg, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Financial
Technology and Regulatory Technology.
In public hearings today, Senator Bragg said there is overwhelming evidence that relaxation
of outmoded corporate communication to deal with the COVID-19 crisis needs to be
Senator Bragg noted the Corporations Act requirements were stuck in 2001, a time when
Australia relied upon dial-up internet, pay phones, physical mail and Harry Potter was the top
He was referring to temporary changes introduced by the Federal Government in response
to the pandemic which permit companies to hold virtual general meetings, deliver notices of
meetings electronically and execute documents virtually.
“It’s a classic example of never let a crisis go to waste,” he said.
“Virtual AGMs, electronic signatures replacing “wet” signatures and letting people execute
documents electronically are all no brainers,” Senator Bragg said.
He said lifting restrictions has improved visibility, accessibility and reduced costs.
“Take the good old fashioned mail out for example,” he said.
“The cost of mailing out notices of an Annual General Meeting to ASX20 shareholders per
AGM season is $13 million which we could save if we engage electronically.”
Senator Bragg also highlighted benefits to the environment by embracing digital solutions.
“We heard evidence today that the average AGM notice is 16 pages. That equates to 8000
trees per AGM season which could be saved,” he said.
Senator Bragg said there’s a pressing need to amend and modernise the Corporations Act
to embrace these changes beyond the pandemic.
“COVID-19 has not ended the world, rather it has accelerated trends which were already
underway. This is a golden opportunity to fast-track changes,” he said.
The hearings continue tomorrow.