Digital statutory declarations to save Australians time and money
Minister for Finance
Senator The Hon Katy Gallagher
Minister for Government Services
The Hon Bill Shorten MP
The Hon Michelle Rowland MP
Joint media release
Commonwealth statutory declarations have now entered into the digital age with legislation passed 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 more than $156 million and hundreds of thousands of hours each year and deliver a productivity bonus to the national economy.
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, meaning they had to be witnessed in person and signed in ink.
The Bill brought forward 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 will enable people to digitally execute a statutory declaration using the online platform myGov and the Australian Government’s Digital ID (myGovID) from 1 January 2024.
Importantly, Australians will continue to be able to execute 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.