Media Release by Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion

More protection, less red tape for Indigenous corporations

Minister for Community Services, Senator Nigel Scullion, today launched new legislation that provides Indigenous corporations with the same protections and standards as other mainstream Australian corporations.

Speaking at the launch in Darwin Senator Scullion said the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) would cut red tape, provide greater flexibility and offer more protection for Indigenous corporations.

‘The CATSI Act replaces the outdated Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 and was a result of extensive consultation and a Senate inquiry,’ Senator Scullion said.

‘Under the previous regulatory regime, there were different governance standards for Indigenous corporations and mainstream corporations.

‘Unscrupulous behaviour by managers and directors in Indigenous corporations that has sometimes occurred will now be subject to the same penalties as in corporations under the Corporations Act.’

Among the changes, the Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations can apply to a court to disqualify a person from managing or being on the board of corporations if they have contravened the CATSI Act.

The Act also establishes a register of people disqualified from managing any corporations.

‘Most importantly people disqualified under the Corporations Act 2001 are automatically disqualified under the CATSI Act, and vice versa,’ Senator Scullion said.

A two-year transitional period will begin from 1 July, providing enough time for Indigenous corporations to adapt to the new law.

‘The CATSI Act also provides a range of special assistance to Indigenous corporations including an information service, support for dispute resolution, good governance audits and compliance training,’ Senator Scullion said.

For more information about the new act, visit the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations website.