Sladen Snippet - Illegal Phoenix Activity – Modernising Business Registers and the new Phoenix Hotline

On 9 May 2018 we reported to you new initiatives regarding proposed laws targeting illegal phoenix activity ( announced by the Federal Government in the 2018/2019 Budget.  Consistent with the proposed measures announced under the budget, the Federal Government has now:

  1. On 13 July 2018 released a discussion paper on modernising business registers; and
  2. By media release issued by The Honourable Kelly O’Dwyer MP on 16 July 2018 announced the establishment of the new Phoenix Hotline

Discussion Paper on Modernising Business Registers

The discussion paper focuses on the need to modernise both Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) business registers and the Australian Business Register (ABR) with the objectives being:

  • To increase reliability and trust in business registry services;
  • To improve service delivery and reduce complexity;
  • To increase access to data availability to facilitate greater use and innovation;
  • To reduce long term costs of the business registry services;
  • To provide greater flexibility to respond to policy issues such as the black economy and phoenix activity;
  • Foster economic activity and mitigate economic losses for business by minimising fraud and business misconduct; and
  • Build trust and confidence in the government’s digital and data transformation initiatives.

One particular focus area that consultation is sought, is the implementation of the director identification numbers with the focus of the consultation being on what is the best way to implement director identification numbers. 

Submissions are sought by no later than 17 August 2018.

Phoenix Hotline

The Phoenix Hotline allows the general public to report suspected phoenix behaviour directly to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) with it being the ATO that will pursue and assess whether there is phoenix behaviour.

You can report suspected phoenix activity by calling the Phoenix Hotline on 1800 807 875 or otherwise online at  Any reporting or disclosures made will be confidential and protected by privacy laws and the Government’s legislative action protecting whistle blowers.

The link to the ATO website set out above also includes further detail on the Phoenix Taskforce which has been in place for some time now.  The Phoenix Taskforce is comprised of some 30 Federal, State and Territory government agencies.  The information available includes confirmation of the development of sophisticated data matching tools and otherwise the approach being taken in relation to illegal phoenix activity, which includes strategies that have been tailored to differentiate between those who pose a high, medium or low risk.  The strategies include:

  • In relation to the high risk category, strong scrutiny and enforcement of the law;
  • In relation to the medium risk category, a range of engagement activities that encourage compliance with the law; and
  • In relation the low risk category, the ATO acknowledges that many who fall within this category are undertaking legitimate business-rescue activity and that the ATO will work with this category to provide education and advice to ensure that they do not fall outside of the law.

To discuss any of the above or otherwise phoenix activity in general please contact:

Meagan O’Connor
Sladen Legal
T +61 3 9611 0106| M +61 438 531 978
Level 5, 707 Collins Street, Melbourne, 3008, Victoria, Australia

Ed Cameron
Senior Associate
Sladen Legal
T: +61 3 9611 0179 | M: +61 409 183 975
Level 5, 707 Collins Street, Melbourne, 3008, Victoria, Australia

Dean Beaumont
Sladen Legal
T +61 3 9611 0131
Level 5, 707 Collins Street, Melbourne, 3008, Victoria, Australia