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Tuesday, 13 June 2006
Page: 254

Senator Murray asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 27 March 2006:

With reference to a report released by the Centre for Australian Ethical Research (CAER) in March 2006, Just how business is done. A review of Australian business’ approach to Bribery and Corruption:

(1)   The CAER report notes sanctions in the United States of America (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) are more severe for companies and individuals engaging in bribery than those in Australia: (a) is this just a reflection of the generally weaker approach taken on this issue by the Australian Government; and (b) will the Government increase sanctions for bribery to match those of the US and UK.

(2)   The CAER report notes that of the top 100 companies by market capitalisation in the UK, 92 per cent have explicitly prohibited giving and receiving bribes, in the US it is 80 per cent, in Europe it is 91 per cent, but in Australia it is approximately 50 per cent: what is the Government doing to bring Australian listed companies up to the standards of the UK, US and Europe.

(3)   The CAER report notes that out of the S&P/ASX 100, 51 companies have explicitly prohibited their employees from giving and receiving bribes; only 18 companies have a policy prohibiting bribery and an appropriate system; and, only 5 companies have a policy prohibiting facilitation payments supported by an adequate system: (a) what is the Government doing to ensure all S&P/ASX 100 Australian companies take bribery and corruption seriously and have appropriate systems in place; and (b) what is the Government planning to do about bribery and corruption policies and systems in non-S&P/ASX 100 companies.

(4)   The CAER report notes that the ASX does not currently suggest corruption as an issue for inclusion in business ethics codes: what is the Government doing to ensure the ASX takes more specific action on bribery and corruption in its codes.

(5)   The CAER report notes that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Working Group on Bribery recently released a report on Australia’s application of international bribery conventions and that the report made a number of recommendations and highlighted a number of inconsistencies, including the inconsistent and vague way in which Australian law treats facilitation payments, in the way Australia approaches enforcing anti-corruption mandates: (a) what is the Government doing to ensure that Australia is seen to take bribery and corruption seriously; and (b) when will these recommendations and inconsistencies be dealt with.

Senator Minchin (Minister for Finance and Administration) —The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   to (5) I refer the honourable senator to the answers to the same questions provided by the Minister for Justice and Customs in response to Senate Question on Notice No. 1652.