Australia to shine light on oil, gas and mining payments

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 27 Oct 2011

Australians will gain a better understanding of the value of our natural resource wealth following today’s Federal Government announcement at CHOGM of a pilot of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said the EITI was an international initiative that set a global standard for managing revenues from natural resources, requiring companies to publish what they pay in taxes, royalties and other payments to governments, and for governments to publish exactly what they receive.

“With this announcement, the Australian Government has shown it’s serious about corporate accountability,” Mr Hewett said.

“The implications are global. Implementing the EITI in Australia will support global commitments to fight bribery and corruption, and will also send a positive signal to other resource rich, but often regulatory poor, countries .

“It’s also important here, as Australians will be able to access information on the value of natural resources buried beneath our feet. The more those affected by mining, such as Indigenous communities, know about payments made to governments, the greater the likelihood that they can negotiate equitable benefit-sharing agreements with companies and governments.

“This new transparency will help ensure Australian companies comply with international best practice, improve trust and accountability in the sector and help ensure all Australians get a fair share of our natural resource wealth.”

Mr Hewett said Australia would join 35 other countries that have undertaken to implement the EITI, and would become the third developed country to commit to the initiative after the United States and Norway.

“Two –thirds of the world’s poorest people live in resource-rich countries that are too often characterised by poverty, conflict and corruption,” Mr Hewett said.

”Revenue transparency can contribute to poverty reduction and mitigate the risks of mining company complicity in corruption and human rights violations, particularly when doing business in high-risk countries.”

The EITI trial will be overseen by a Multi-stakeholder Group comprising government, industry and non-government organisations, including Oxfam Australia

“The way to fight the ‘curse’ of natural resources is by sharing the benefits fairly between private and public sectors, building the capacity of host governments through a comprehensive aid program, and by better disclosing and allocating public budgets to improve spending on basic health care and education, tackling inequality, and generating decent work for poor people,” Mr Hewett said.

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