Commonwealth company

A company established under the Corporations Act 2001 that the Commonwealth controls. A Commonwealth company is legally and financially separate from the Commonwealth.

The Corporations Act is the primary regulatory framework for these companies. Chapter 3 of the PGPA Act sets out additional requirements that Commonwealth companies have to comply with in order to meet appropriate standards of public sector accountability.

The Commonwealth controls a company if, and only if, it (section 89(2) of the PGPA Act):

  • controls the composition of the company's board or
  • is in a position to cast, or control the casting of, more than one-half of the maximum number of votes that might be cast at a general meeting of the company or
  • holds more than one-half of the issued share capital of the company (excluding any part of that issued share capital that carries no right to participate beyond a specified amount in a distribution of either profits or capital).

Commonwealth companies include:

  • wholly-owned Commonwealth companies - companies in which no other beneficiary owns an interest other than the Commonwealth (section 90); and
  • government business enterprises (GBEs) - Commonwealth companies with a commercial focus that are prescribed as GBEs under the PGPA Act and, as a result, have some additional responsibilities.

A Commonwealth company does not include a company that is a subsidiary of:

  • a Commonwealth company or
  • a corporate Commonwealth entity or
  • the Future Fund Board of Guardians.

Commonwealth companies are not Commonwealth entities for the purposes of the PGPA Act. The PGPA Act duties that apply to accountable authorities and officials of Commonwealth entities do not apply to directors and officers of Commonwealth companies.

The Flipchart of PGPA bodies lists all Commonwealth companies by portfolio.

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