Corporate Governance

Corporate activity should consider the concerns and interests of all stakeholders — shareholders, employees, business partners and society.

Principles

The Australian Greens believe that:

  1. Corporations and governments operating in Australia have a responsibility to conform to the intent, as well as the letter, of Australian and international law.
  2. Corporations and governments must behave ethically in all transactions and work to prevent corruption.
  3. Laws governing corporations and business practices should promote social and environmental responsibility and respect for human rights.
  4. Laws governing corporations and business practices should reflect the concerns and interests of all stakeholders including shareholders, employees, business partners and communities.
  5. Government entities, including statutory authorities, should demonstrate leadership in providing exemplary governance and high levels of social and environmental responsibility.
  6. Government-owned service delivery corporations should prioritise adequate, affordable and accessible service delivery over making profits.
  7. Positions of authority should reflect community diversity with respect to age, gender, sexuality, ability, ethnicity and cultural background.
  8. Climate change is a material business risk that all boards must recognise as part of directors’ liability. (see Climate Change and Energy)

Aims

The Australian Greens want:

  1. A business environment that encourages businesses and governments to fulfil their corporate, social and environmental responsibilities.
  2. Effective regulation of the conduct of the corporate sector including international entities, to include:
    1. increased funding for regulatory agencies, adequate to enable enforcement;
    2. sanctions and fines that are sufficiently high to deter breaches of the law;
    3. extended liability of directors and managers; and
    4. an extended range of effective penalty provisions such as publication orders, restrictions on Government related work, barring and delisting of individuals and entities.
  3. Decision-making processes in publicly listed companies that ensure informed and comprehensive participation by shareholders.
  4. Widespread awareness of, and adherence to, the United Nations Global Compact and the principles it embodies.
  5. Transparent and accountable public utilities and government business enterprises. Where public subsidies are provided, information on the full environmental, social and fiscal costs should be publicly available.
  6. Full accountability of government and corporations to the broader community, including implementing holistic accounting measures at all levels of government to incorporate social, environmental and financial impacts into policy development and assessment.
  7. Australian public companies, large proprietary companies and their subsidiaries, and government departments to be required to independently audit and publicly report their performance against economic, environmental and social criteria on an annual basis
  8. Elections of boards of publicly listed companies to be conducted by an independent statutory body.
  9. The inclusion of corporate ethics and environmental and social responsibilities in all business and commerce course curricula at secondary and tertiary institutions.
  10. Strong powers for the Commonwealth Auditor General and the Commonwealth Ombudsman to examine and report on the propriety of government tenders and procurement
  11. Persons detrimentally affected by the operations of Australian corporations overseas to have a legally-enforceable right to take action against those corporations in Australia.
  12. All government-appointed boards to be representative of their stakeholders.
  13. Stronger consumer education initiatives in the areas of reduced and responsible consumption, consumer rights and responsible investment.
  14. Investigation into tax-based incentives for socially and environmentally responsible initiatives.
  15. Greater powers and resources for regulators to police anti-competitive behaviour and abuses of market power.
  16. A review of the monitoring and enforcement of competition policy to ensure that individual stakeholder or sector interests do not override the public interest.
  17. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to have the powers and resources to prevent the formation of monopolies through 'creeping acquisitions', and to divest monopolies and oligopolies of assets if they are abusing their market power.
  18. Amendment of all relevant legislation to ensure the directors of phoenix companies and the new entities themselves can be pursued for outstanding liabilities.
  19. Increased exposure and, where necessary, prosecution of Australian-based companies and their directors for breaches overseas of human rights, tax evasion or industrial or environmental law.
  20. Measures to reduce excessive executive salaries.
  21. Affirmative action targets for more diversity on corporate and government boards.

[Policy endorsed: May 2018]