Publish What You Pay renews call for mandatory disclosures

Source: The Sustainability Report
Date: 14 Jun 2022

Publish What You Pay Australia is urging the federal government to adopt standards of mandatory disclosure for companies in the mining and extractive industry.

Publish What you Pay Australia’s push comes as the European Parliament voted in favour of a new Transparency and Accounting Directive. The amendments to the Transparency and Accounting Directive will make it a requirement for European-Union listed and large privately owned oil, gas, mining and logging companies to publish country by country and project by project payments over €100,000 to governments wherever they operate. This brings the EU in line with the US Dodd-Frank Act section 1504, which demands similar disclosures.

Meanwhile, this week Canada announced that it will establish new mandatory reporting standards for Canadian extractive companies and Switzerland said it was also considering the possibility of similar legislation.

“The rest of the world is acting on mandatory disclosure, and with the announcements from Canada and Switzerland, Australia is the last major developed country not intending to bring in mandatory disclosure,” said Claire Spoors, coordinator, Publish What You Pay Australia. “Will it wake them up?”

Civil society groups, investors and investor groups such as the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors are pressing for mandatory disclosure of payments mining and extractive companies make to governments in which they operate because it increases transparency around governance and social responsibility.

Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury said last month that the government will assess the results of Australia’s EITI pilot after it concludes around the middle of this year before looking at mandatory reporting of country-by-country payments. Bradbury made that statement during last month’s Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) conference in Sydney.

Australia’s EITI pilot started in July 2012 and the AU$500,000 cost was funded by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism. The pilot has been overseen by a multi-party stakeholder group of federal and state government representatives, industry and non-government organisations.

The Australian government has introduced legislation amending taxation law that will permit the disclosure of how much large listed companies pay to the Australian government in taxes.

“[The government] have made a small step towards preparing for this type of disclosure through the tax provision rules for most multi-national companies,” Spoors said. “It has passed the House and needs to pass the Senate.”

Publish What You Pay Australia has met with the opposition Coalition party and the Australian Greens as well as one independent member of parliament to build support for mandatory disclosure on a country-by-country basis, Spoors said, and will also engage the Australian government on the issue in the run up to Australia taking over the presidency of the G20 in 2014.

“The Greens get it and we’ve had a hearing from the opposition,” Spoors said. “What’s quite pertinent, particularly to the opposition, is that investors support this. Investors understand that corruption costs money and it’s a hindrance to investment in mining.”

By Rachel Alembakis

The Sustainability Report