Together with our partners, we investigate Australian corporate behaviour in the region. Unfortunately, too many Australian companies are involved in behaviour that:
- imposes projects on people’s land without free, prior and informed consent;
- engages in activities that are damaging to the local environment or that will accelerate the climate crisis;
- involves serious human rights violations, such as forced eviction, intimidation and threats or even violence.
Sadly, the Australian government has few powers to rein in the behaviour of its corporations overseas. The only remedy with any teeth that currently exists is to go through the courts, which is timely, expensive and often provide unsatisfactory outcomes for communities.
There is a non-judicial mechanism, called the OECD National Contact Point (NCP), based in the Australian Treasury Department. Although this facility has improved its governance and receives more resources now than previously, the NCP does not have the enforcement powers that are needed to prevent widespread abuses and behaviours.
We are working with our partners at the Australian Corporate Accountability Network to improve this situation.
Our preferred option would be a new a law which would compel large businesses in Australia to undertake due diligence to prevent and address harm to people and the environment in their operations and supply chains, regardless of where they operate.