Australia: OECD National Contact Point reforms include independent examiner & advisory board
The the Australian Treasury, prompted by civil society, announced major reforms concerning the National Contact Point (NCP) including a commitment to establish a new independent examiner to investigate complaints made against companies under the OECD Guidelines, and the creation of a new advisory board with representatives from civil society, trade unions and business as well as government.
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Australia appoints first-ever independent examiner to investigate corporate human rights abuses overseas
Author: Human Rights Law Centre
31 July 2019
…[T]he Human Rights Law Centre welcomes the Federal Government’s appointment of Mr John Southalan as the first-ever Australian independent examiner charged with investigating reported instances of corporate misconduct by Australian multinationals.
Keren Adams, a Legal Director at the HRLC, says that the appointment of an independent examiner is a positive first step towards holding Australian businesses accountable for their human rights impacts abroad.
…The independent examiner has been appointed by the Department of Treasury in a series of reforms designed to improve the effectiveness of the Australian OECD National Contact Point (AusNCP)….
Author: OECD Watch
4 March 2019
Following two years of advocacy by Australian civil society and the 2017 filing by OECD Watch of the first-ever substantiated submission against the Australian National Contact Point (NCP), at the end of 2018, the Australian Treasury announced major reforms to the NCP. Most significantly, these include a commitment to establish a new Independent Examiner to investigate complaints made against companies under the OECD Guidelines, and the creation of a new Advisory Board which will include representation from civil society, trade unions and business as well as government.
While the reforms don't go as far as sought by OECD Watch and Australian civil society, they are an important first step towards addressing some of the Australian NCP's most significant past failings and ensuring a better non-judicial complaints system for communities negatively impacted by the activities of Australian multinationals.
Author: The Treasury, The Australian Government
The following initiatives aim to modernise the way the AusNCP operates, enhancing transparency, accountability and the independence of the complaint handling process.
Initiative 1: Introducing an independent expert examiner for specific instances
...[A]n Independent Examiner will undertake all specific instance case work, including decision-making. ...[T]he Independent Examiner will have autonomy to make decisions independently and draw on the advice and expertise of the advisory body (below).
Initiative 2: New advisory body
To increase transparency, accountability and predictability, the Independent Examiner and secretariat will be supported by an advisory committee comprising government and external members (two corporate and two civil society positions). This body, which will replace the existing Oversight Committee....
Initiative 3: Improved procedural guidance
Revised procedural guidance was released in July 2018 to reflect Treasury's commitment to improved case handling....
Initiative 4: Resource commitment
A departmental budget allocation has been made for the AusNCP to ensure the function remains accessible, including funds for continuation of professional services and three staff within Treasury.
Initiative 5: Improving outreach and promotion
The AusNCP will undertake a minimum of two outreach activities each year and will invite members of the new advisory body to support promotional work. Regular access to stakeholder networks will strengthen the AusNCP's visibility, accessibility and access to expertise.