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Centuries-old rules for these legal documents set to change



Statutory declarations are moving into the digital age as the government moves to eliminate the need for the centuries-old pen and paper process.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus today introduced new legislation that will entrench the former temporary measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic which allowed statutory declarations to make use of electronic signatures and video-link witnessing.

People will also be able to digitally execute a statutory declaration using myGov and the myGov ID Digital ID.

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The government claims this could save more than $156 million a year, with Australians reportedly spending about nine million hours annually executing and processing statutory declarations.

Longstanding rules have required they be paper-based, witnessed in person, and signed in ink.

And if people are more comfortable with the old standards, they will be able to continue to adhere to them, with the government confirming the legislation would not replace traditional methods but only add more options.

Paper stat-decs will remain "an equally valid and legally effective form".

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The new legislation will also require approved online platforms to show they comply with privacy laws and have "robust" fraud and security arrangements.

Additionally, no approved online platform will be allowed to keep a copy of any statutory declaration.

The government says the new reforms will particularly help Australians in regional and remote areas.

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