(Question No. 2560)
Senator Ludlam asked the Minister for Resources and Energy, upon notice, on 20 November 2012:
With reference to the mandatory disclosure of payments for listed extractive companies and the Publish What You Pay initiative, with regard to the introduction of regulations in the United States of America (US):
(1) Is the Government aware of the efforts to stamp-out corruption across the world through new rules for the mandatory disclosure of payments made by extractive industry companies to governments.
(2) Has the department conducted any research or provided any advice on these laws; if so, can copies be provided.
(3) Has the Minister been briefed on these developments and what steps is the department taking to determine whether Australia should follow suit.
(4) Given that BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and other ASX-listed companies will be covered by the new regulations as they are also listed in the US, has the department discussed with these companies the possibility of aligning Australia''s legislation with rules in other nations.
(5) Can the Minister provide an update on the pilot Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) program being undertaken in Australia.
(6) What is the Minister''s view on the statement by the Chair of EITI, former United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Development, Ms Clare Short, that the ''SEC and EU transparency requirements are complementary to, and not in conflict with, the EITI transparency requirements. Let us be clear, the extraction of oil, gas, and minerals is still failing to bring the benefits to ordinary citizens that it should, particularly in the poorer countries. Implementation of the EITI standard does not achieve enough in isolation. We need a range of different transparency, accountability and governance reforms''.
(7) What is the Minister''s view on the decision by the US Government to undertake the EITI in addition to implementing legislation.
Senator Chris Evans: The Minister for Resources and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:
(1) The Government is aware of the efforts by some countries to implement new rules for the mandatory disclosure of payments, including efforts by the US and consideration by the European Parliament.
(2) No. While the Department is aware of these laws or proposals it's research has been limited to a review of internet articles. The Department's focus is on undertaking a domestic pilot of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
(3) The Department has provided information to the Minister that the US is implementing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act as part of its broader update on the EITI. Regarding what steps the Department is taking, refer to response to Question 2.
(4) The Department has not discussed with ASX-listed companies any alignment of Australia's legislation.
(5) Following the Government's announcement of the EITI pilot in the lead up to CHOGM 2011, a 21 member Multi-Stakeholder Group was formed in early 2012 to oversee the pilot process. Its members were drawn from state and federal governments, industry and civil society and the MSG is chaired and supported by the Department. Since its establishment, the MSG has: developed a communications plan; identified and agreed on material revenues and payments that will be reported in the pilot; agreed on the sample of companies and governments that will report; commenced the design of the reporting template; engaged an Administrator to collect and assess the financial data; and is engaging an Evaluator to assess the process and outcomes of the pilot. The MSG will report to Government at the completion of the pilot, outlining the findings of the pilot.
(6) The Government is aware of the statement by Ms Short in August 2012, and is applying various approaches to transparency in the extractive industries sector, including through Australia's broader transparency framework.
(7) Initiatives such as Australia's and the US' approach to the EITI was discussed at a meeting with US Secretary of State, the Hon Hilary Clinton last month as part of their focus on open and transparent markets. Its decision to implement legislation in addition to the EITI is a matter for the US Government.