Electronic Transaction Act Consultation

Closes 20 Mar 2023

Contents

The Electronic Transactions Act

Every day, there are hundreds of situations where you might need to enter an agreement, send or receive written documents or information, or store a written record.

For example:

  • a government department might require you to send them written information for an important application
  • an industry law might require you to store receipts or payment information for 5 or more years
  • you might need to sign a contract before receiving goods or services.

Over the past several decades, people have found that these types of ‘transactions’ can be efficiently executed using electronic tools – like email, computer storage, or e-signing platforms.

Until 1999, it wasn’t clear in Australian law whether electronic transactions were as legally valid as paper transactions. The Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (Cth) (ETA) was enacted to make clear in law that electronic transactions are legally valid when used to comply with Commonwealth laws – so long as certain technical requirements are met. There are some transactions (like signing a cheque) that cannot be created electronically. Where these transactions are identified, they are excluded from the ETA's application.

Australian states and territories have also enacted their own electronic transactions regulatory frameworks – which provide duplicate provisions to the ETA that apply to transactions under state and territory laws.

This national framework gives the community an option to use electronic tools when dealing with government agencies or when transacting privately, and sets the standards needed for current and future technologies.

How to complete this consultation paper

To submit to this consultation, simply click through the page links below and read the background information and answer the questions on each page.

You don’t need to answer all the questions. There is only one compulsory question; whether you consent for us to publish your responses.

This consultation will take you anywhere between 30 minutes and 60 minutes to complete, however you may want to consider your answers over a longer time frame. You can either complete all questions in one sitting, or log in and out over the consultation period.

Finally, if you would prefer to see all the questions in a single document, please send us an email at eta@ag.gov.au and we can send you a PDF version – which you can respond to by email. 

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Questions about you
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Consent Requirements
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Signatures
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Exemptions and Inconsistencies
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Record-keeping
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Next Steps (Required)
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