Correspondence between Resource Minister Keith Pitt and civil society groups involved in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) shows that the Australian Government is walking away from its promise to join the tax transparency initiative for the mining, oil and gas industry.
The move comes despite major mining companies and civil society groups supporting Australia’s EITI bid.
- In 2016, Australia pledged to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the global standard of tax transparency for the mining, oil and gas industries, following a successful pilot project.
- Under the EITI, companies publish their payments to governments and governments publish what they receive.
EITI countries include Norway, UK, Germany and 50 more. Companies that support the EITI include BHP, Woodside, Rio Tinto, Oil Search and Shell.
- Australia has supported EITI since 2006, and since 2011 has provided funding to the EITI globally and to developing countries, yet hypocritically has not kept its promise domestically.
- Australia’s EITI bid has stalled since 2019. Resources Minister Keith Pitt refuses to convene a meeting of the multistakeholder group that oversees the bid, effectively abandoning it.
“This group has worked together, quietly and constructively, throughout a time of major political upheaval around mining and taxes. It is not something that should be thrown away lightly,” said Rod Campbell, research director at the Australia Institute.
“The Government is ignoring the track record of Australia’s EITI participants, which include BHP, Rio Tinto, Transparency International Australia, CFMEU, and Publish What You Pay,” Mr Campbell said.
“Australia’s current voluntary approach to transparency lets some resource companies hide in the shadows. Companies don’t have to publish how much tax and royalties they pay, and owners of private companies can remain anonymous to avoid scrutiny and regulations,” said Clancy Moore, from Publish What You Pay.
“The Morrison government should show leadership and commit the resources sector to the highest standards of transparency,” Mr Moore said.
“Minister Pitt’s refusal to move forward with the EITI increases the risks of corruption both here in Australia and in other countries where Australian mining companies operate,” said Dr Nicole Bieske, from Transparency International Australia.
“This will hurt communities through lost revenue and damage the reputation of Australia’s resource sector at home and internationally,” Dr Bieske said.
“Communities expect and deserve transparency from mining companies about their contributions and actions, whether it’s taxes and royalties paid, land rehabilitation or community support,” said Peter Colley, from the Mining and Energy Union.
“While some mining companies operating in Australia understand that transparency is vital to maintaining their social license to operate, others need to be held to account when it comes to reporting timely and accurate information,” Mr Colley said.
Correspondence between Minister Pitt and civil society groups regarding the EITI is available below.
Civil society group members of the EITI multi-stakeholder group include: Rod Campbell, The Australian Institute; Peter Colley, Mining and Energy Union; Dr Stephen Mills, Sydney University; Dr Nicole Bieske, Transparency International Australia; Clancy Moore, Publish What You Pay; Professor Robyn Mayes, QUT; Mel Flanagan, Nook Studios.