- modernising the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act) to permit virtual general meetings, electronic distribution of meeting notices, electronic signatures and electronic execution of corporate and governance documents; and
- removing barriers and promoting commercial risk-taking and innovation to boost growth.
In welcome recognition of the challenges facing organisations during the COVID-19 crisis period, the Government has used emergency COVID-19 powers to provide temporary regulatory relief in critical areas, from insolvency liability to enabling virtual general meetings. While critical in the short-term, this period of temporary relief also provides insights into where regulation has become dated and inflexible as well as the areas where there is a significant opportunity for a permanent upgrade to our governance and corporate law settings.
To accelerate economic recovery, Australia needs a regulatory environment that can adjust from crisis settings to re-set for growth. Modernising Australia’s corporate law is one obvious priority, with benefits to stakeholders and organisations across the community.
We consider the capacity for organisations to hold virtual and hybrid general meetings, including annual general meetings (AGMs), and distribute meeting notices electronically should be made a permanent feature of Australia’s regulatory environment. In particular, we note that the current temporary relief will expire during the 2020 AGM season, making a determination on extension or permanent reform timely and important.
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