Decision time for Government on mining transparency

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases, Mining, News article written on the 14 Oct 2014

Australia must show it is serious about revenue and tax transparency in the extractives sector and implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Australia.

The call from the Publish What you Pay coalition (PWYP) comes as the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group meets this week (16 – 18 Oct) in Paris and the Board of the EITI meets in Myanmar on 14-15 October.

Centre for Australian Ethical Research Senior Analyst Julia Leske said the EITI required governments to publish what they received in payments from mining and oil and gas companies and for companies to publish what they paid governments. This process is overseen by a multi-stakeholder group comprising equal representation of government, industry and civil society.

“The Australian Government has just completed a successful three-year pilot of the EITI, but has not indicated whether or not it’s going to implement the initiative in Australia,” Ms Leske said.

“Full implementation would help Australians better understand exactly how we benefit from the extraction of our finite natural resources.”

Oxfam Australia’s Extractive Industries Policy Advisor Serena Lillywhite said more than 60 per cent of the world’s poorest people lived in countries rich in natural resources, but secrecy and corruption often resulted in income from natural resource extraction going missing and not benefitting communities.

“Australia is a significant donor to the EITI and has encouraged countries, including Myanmar and Papua New Guinea, to undertake the initiative,” Ms Lillywhite said.

“In seeking candidacy to implement the EITI, Australia would not only send a strong signal to other governments that it is serious about transparency and accountability in the extractive industries, but it would also be better placed to assist with implementation by our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The issue of extractive industry transparency is a focus area for the G20’s Anti-Corruption Working Group meeting this week in Paris.

Several G20 countries are already implementing or have committed to implement the EITI, including Indonesia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy.

Transparency International Australia’s Executive Director Greg Thompson said  transparency in the extractive industries was becoming the ‘new norm’, and many Australian oil, gas and mining companies supported EITI implementation in Australia and internationally.

Transparency of revenues paid helps gain community support for extractives projects and is widely considered best practice.

Continued support for the EITI is expected to feature in the next Anti-Corruption Action Plan which will be unveiled at the Brisbane G20 Summit.

”As G20 President, Australia should lead by example and demonstrate to the world its commitment to transparency in the mining sector by announcing its intention to fully implement the initiative,” he said.

For more information please contact Laurelle Keough at Oxfam Australia on 0425 701 801