The Australians Greens have announced a bill to help crack down on corruption in Australian companies that operate overseas.
"Australia has a responsibility to ensure that our companies operate honestly and responsibly all over the world, but especially in our own region," Greens Leader Christine Milne said.
"A number of Australian companies have been the subject of concerning allegations in relation to corruption, bribery, human rights abuses and environmental degradation. This bill is an important first step that the parliament can take immediately to crack down on Australian corruption overseas.
"The bill creates mandatory reporting requirements for payments made overseas to help shine a light on what can be a murky and deliberating confusing corporate web.
"Australia can now join the global push for better transparency in the extractive industries. Around the world countries including the US, Canada and United Kingdom are all introducing mandatory reporting requirements such as these, coming together to create a global standard.
"Australia is lagging behind on corporation responsibility and fighting corruption. We have a responsibility to the developing nations, in our region and around the world, to be a leader and not a laggard."
Senator Milne will introduce the bill tomorrow.
Corporations Amendment (Publish What You Pay) Bill 2014
The Corporations Amendment (Publish What You Pay) Bill 2014 will establish mandatory reporting requirements of payments made by Australian based extractive companies to foreign governments. The bill requires that companies must disclose these payments on a country-by-country and project-by-project basis. This will apply to all Australian companies involved in extractive industries, including oil, gas, mining and native forest logging. It will apply to both Australian public and large proprietary companies. The overall aim of the Bill is to improve transparency and accountability of Australian extractive companies. The Bill aims to deter corruption by requiring payments to be made public.
Under the legislation, these companies and their subsidiaries would be required to submit a financial report detailing all payments made to government entities overseas over $100,000. This threshold would bring Australia in line with the standards set by the US, EU and UK in their legislation and directives. The legislation sets out that these reports must be in an open and machine-readable format, and would be published by ASIC, to ensure public accessibility and accountability. Misleading reporting will be dealt with under the rules that currently exist relating to financial statements.
This legislation intends to align Australia's legislative response to extractive industry transparency with that that is being pursued around the world, including in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.