SENATOR THE HON KATY GALLAGHER
Minister for Finance
Minister for the Public Service
Minister for Women
THE HON MARK DREYFUS KC MP
THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP
Minister for Government Services
Date: Thursday, 7 September 2023
Commonwealth statutory declarations are moving into the digital age with legislation introduced today to make permanent the use of digital execution, electronic signatures and video-link witnessing in place of the centuries old ink and paper.
Digital statutory declarations could save over $156 million each year, hundreds of thousands of hours and be a productivity winner for the private sector.
Australians spend an estimated 9 million hours each year executing and processing more than 3.8 million statutory declarations. Historically, these documents have been strictly paper-based, requiring they be witnessed in person and signed in ink.
Legislation introduced today by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus will make permanent the temporary measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic allowing statutory declarations to be made through the use of electronic signatures and video-link witnessing.
The Bill also enables people to digitally execute a statutory declaration using the online platform myGov and the myGov ID Digital ID.
Importantly, this bill does not remove the ability for Australians to continue executing statutory declarations through the traditional, paper-based method should they wish to do so.
All three methods will be an equally valid and legally effective form of Commonwealth statutory declaration.
The Government recognises that any digital option must have strong safeguards that protect against fraud and misuse of personal information.
The Bill includes a range of provisions to ensure transparency and accountability, and a requirement for approved online platforms and identity services to demonstrate that they comply with privacy laws and have robust fraud and security arrangements.
The Bill also prohibits approved online platforms from retaining copies of statutory declarations, noting that they can hold particularly sensitive personal information. There is also an annual reporting requirement to the Parliament on the operation of the online execution platform.
These important reforms will benefit all Australians seeking a more convenient, and efficient, statutory declaration process - particularly those in rural, remote or regional parts of Australia.
In line with the Data and Digital Government Strategy we are committed to embracing digital technologies to improve service delivery.
Attorney-General Dreyfus: Stephen Spencer – 0423 596 573
Minister Gallagher: Georgia Leak – 0478 773 015
Minister Shorten: Antonia Magee – 0409 339 989