Recent media reports that characterise ASIC's business registry function as fee gouging are misleading and incorrect.
The business registries that are maintained by ASIC are Government-owned infrastructure. Individuals and businesses that use the registry infrastructure pay a fee for that use. The fee is payable for access to the register, not for any service provided by ASIC.
It has been long standing practice that fees for use of the registry infrastructure are levied on individuals and businesses. The last wholesale change to the registry fees occurred in July 2010, when the then Labor Government introduced CPI indexing for the registry fees.
The fees generated from use of the business registries are collected by ASIC on behalf of the Government and paid into consolidated revenue. The Government directs the revenue collected to a range of initiatives that benefit all Australians, including education spending and social welfare.
Contrary to recent reports, the business registries are not a source of funding for ASIC's regulatory work. In response to a recommendation of the Financial System Inquiry, the Turnbull Government has legislated to provide industry funding for ASIC – to ensure that the cost of regulation is borne by those who create the need for it, rather than Australian taxpayers.
ASIC's collection of fees on behalf of the Federal Government for use of the registries is similar to other Government agencies, including the land titles offices in the States and Territories, that also charge fees for public access to Government-owned infrastructure such as land titles registries.
The claim that ASIC’s permanent funding has been cut is also incorrect. A proportion of ASIC’s funding is project driven and when these projects come to their natural end, the funding for them also ends. The Government considers the provision of new funding for new projects on a case-by-case basis. Where funds are appropriated by Government to ASIC, they will now, for the first time, be recovered from the relevant industry subsector.