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Operational insights from the review

 

Gavin McCosker, Registrar

Welcome to the first in a series of posts from Gavin McCosker, Registrar of Australia’s Personal Property Securities system.

I’m pleased to have the opportunity, through this new series of posts, to discuss a range of topics on the personal property securities system and how AFSA supports its effective operation within the Australian economy.

In this first post I want to share with you a number of actions that we’re taking at AFSA after considering the insights contained in the review of the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (the Act). I touched on this in our 2014–15 annual report, but I’d like to use this opportunity to provide some additional detail.

The review of the Act was announced by the Attorney-General on 4 April 2014. Mr Bruce Whittaker led the review team and the final report of the review was tabled in Parliament on 18 March 2015.

AFSA will work with the Attorney-General’s Department (which is responsible for the personal property securities policy) and our stakeholders to ensure any accepted changes arising from the review are managed effectively.

In addition to recommendations made that have a legislative basis, the review also highlighted existing operational activities that could be strengthened. One of these relates to increasing awareness of the personal property securities system among small businesses. Building awareness of the Act and the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) in the small and medium enterprise (SME) business sector is something that we’ve already been focusing on and it’s pleasing that our work agenda is closely aligned with the call to action contained in the review.

We all know that the SME sector can be hard to reach. It’s extremely diverse in terms of industry types and business operators tend to be time poor. It’s a challenge to ensure they have access to the right information at the right time.

In recognition of these challenges, we’ve taken the approach―including appointing a dedicated stakeholder engagement adviser―to build relationships with business advisers, such as accountants, financial advisers, lawyers, business advisory services, and peak industry and professional bodies. These practitioners and organisations are trusted advisers to the SME sector and are in a prime position to provide information on how the register can be used by business to manage risk and identify ways to use their collateral to access secured credit.

We’ve been using a number of channels to inform and engage with these practitioners and organisations and have produced a range of supporting resources―informed by our own market research and developed in consultation with industry and professional bodies―including brochures for small businesses and business advisers and a range of short videos on PPSR topics. These are available through our PPSR website. This page is a growing resource, so keep an eye on it, as it gets added to over time.

We’ve also developed a comprehensive guide for businesses and their advisers (titled Are you in business?). The business guide is designed to present information on the Act and the PPSR in a way that is easy to understand. To assist us to develop the content for the guide, we engaged Associate Professor David Brown from the University of Adelaide. David is co-author of the book Australian Personal Property Securities Law (LexisNexis, 2012) and he teaches and writes on the Personal Property Securities Act, insolvency law and property law. He’s a frequent presenter and adviser in these areas to government, law reform bodies and industry bodies in Australia and overseas.

A draft of the guide was provided to key stakeholders for review and we’ve taken on the majority of suggested improvements. The business guide will be released very shortly and you can access it from our website.

Other activities that we’ve already completed, that help address some of the challenges raised in the review, include a major refresh of the PPSR website, with a completely new look and improved functionality. And we’ve released improvements to the register itself through our enhancement programme and captured user feedback about larger functional changes for consideration.

Over the next couple of years we’ll build on these activities with the regular development and release of more resources―including products tailored for specific sectors―through a variety of channels. And we’ll initiate a register scoping project to enable implementation of accepted review recommendations, ensuring all reasonable and cost effective options are explored. This work will be informed by close engagement with key stakeholders and direct contact with organisations internationally that maintain similar registers.

Thanks for reading. Join me next time when I will talk about the purposes of a personal property securities system.

Gavin McCosker
Registrar
Personal Property Securities
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