Treasury kicks off the implementation phase of the National Action Plan
In the 2016-17 Federal Budget the Government announced the introduction of new arrangements to better protect tax whistleblowers as part of its commitment to tackling tax misconduct. In addition, as part of the Open Government National Action Plan, the Government has committed to ensuring appropriate protections are in place for people who report corruption, fraud, tax evasion or avoidance, and misconduct within the corporate sector.
Network member Transparency International Australia lodged this updated position paper on whistleblowing with both inquiries.
Commitment 1.2: Beneficial Ownership Transparency
“Australia will improve transparency of information on beneficial ownership and control of companies available to relevant authorities. As part of this, we will consult with the corporate sector, non-government organisations and the public on the details, scope and implementation of a beneficial ownership register for companies, as well as other options to improve beneficial ownership transparency.”
Treasury on 13 February released a public consultation paper seeking views on the details, scope and implementation of a beneficial ownership register for companies.
Submissions close on 13 March.
There were many comments on the draft commitment released in October particularly concerning the proposed limitation on access to information only by “relevant authorities.” Submitters including the Network Steering Committee argued consideration should be given to extending the right of access to information to the public or persons with a legitimate interest.
The Civil Society members of the PM&C Interim Working Group right up to the end argued public disclosure of beneficial interests is also important for accountability, due diligence and other reasons, including the corruption risks mentioned in other commitments They recommended the limitation “to relevant authorities’ should be dropped to make clear the level of transparency has not been pre-determined before seeking the views of the public and interested parties on this important issue.