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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Push to usher statutory declarations into 21st century

A push to permanently recognise electronically signed statutory declarations would be a massive win for productivity and efficiency, federal Labor says.

Australians could save roughly $156 million and countless work hours under a federal government push to recognise digitally signed statutory declarations.

Each year, small to medium businesses and individuals spend nine million hours executing and processing roughly 3.8 million statutory declarations, which are used to assert a written statement is true for administrative, civil, commercial and private purposes.

Before 2020, the legal procedure was strictly paper-based and required Australians to sign in ink with an in-person witness by their side.

But COVID-19 pandemic measures prompted a break with tradition, to allow signatories to complete the documents digitally with electronic signatures and witnessing via video calls.

A bill being introduced in federal parliament on Thursday aims to make those digital measures permanent and usher statutory declarations into the modern age.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the changes may seem unassuming and modest, "but make no mistake, it will have an impact".

"The bill modernises and reimagines how individuals and businesses engage with documents and by extension with the Australian government." 

The reforms would improve productivity and efficiency, particularly for those who live with disabilities or live in rural or regional areas. 

It also allows people to use the MyGov app's digital ID feature to execute statutory declarations.

In order to safeguard any sensitive information contained in the documents, the bill requires approved online platforms to show they comply with privacy laws and have robust security arrangements in place.

Those who prefer the paper process can continue to validly execute their statutory declarations that way.


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