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Monday, 20 March 2017
Page: 1326


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (11:35): I would like to thank those senators who have contributed to this debate on the Corporations Amendment (Crowd-sourced Funding) Bill 2016. This bill delivers on the government's ongoing commitment to support the transition of the Australian economy from the mining investment boom to a more diversified economy, through fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

This bill introduces a legislative framework for crowdsourced equity funding which will make it easier for small businesses, particularly early stage businesses, to make use of equity finance. The government is also continuing to work on extending the regime to proprietary companies, which are generally prohibited from offering shares to the general public. The government has asked Treasury to develop a framework for proprietary companies as a key priority, and I would expect that an extension of the framework will be introduced through subsequent legislation in the near future.

The framework detailed in this bill will allow unlisted public companies with assets and turnover of less than $25 million to raise up to $5 million per annum through crowdsourced equity funding with reduced disclosure obligations. This framework will also provide a holiday for up to five years from the most onerous reporting and governance requirements for unlisted public companies. To ensure investors can make informed decisions and are not exposed to excessive risk, the framework sets out the minimum disclosure requirements and the retail investor cap of $10,000 per issuer per 12-month period. Online intermediaries will need to be licensed to perform certain gatekeeping obligations and ensure that certain disclosure and other requirements are met by issuers. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission will provide ongoing supervision of crowdsourced funding in Australia—in relation to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee's recommendation that the government closely monitor implementation of the legislation and consider the need for a potential review.

This bill is another example of how the government is supporting small and start-up businesses, which are critical to Australia's economic transition and delivering jobs and growth to all Australians. I commend this bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.