Turnbull's attack on transparency
Watch this video from award-winning investigative journalist Michael West, then add your name to the 75,000-strong petition.
Time is running out, with just one week until the tender deadline. But by working together, we can blow the lid off Turnbull's shady plot and generate enough public outrage to force a government back down.
Will you call on Parliament to keep the corporate ownership database in public hands?
It is also used to identify shell companies, which facilitate many serious crimes including labour exploitation, human trafficking, money laundering, financing terrorism, commercial online child sexual abuse, illicit arms trading, fraud, embezzlement and bribery.
In addition, the registry is used by unions to help pursue wage theft claims on behalf of exploited workers, accountancy firms to pursue the assets of liquidated companies to satisfy creditors, and lawyers to pursue child support payments.
Here are some specific recent examples of the way the database has been used:
- Investigative journalism – Former Fairfax Business Editor, Michael West, routinely uses the database to uncover corporate malpractice – including the shady tax affairs of dirty energy giant, Glencore. The jouranlists union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, has written to the Turnbull Government raising their concerns and calling for the sale to not proceed.
- Ousting corporate tax dodgers – Earlier this year, GetUp members funded a hard-hitting report that exposed Australia's biggest tax dodgers – which relied on digging through filings in the corporate database.
- Exposing labour exploitation – The Fair Work Commission cracked down on Australia's biggest chicken supplier over exploiting foreign workers and using bogus business addresses.
The cost of access to relevant financial information of multinationals is already an impediment to corporate scrutiny and accountability. Australia pays some of the world's highest fees to access corporate data, and our journalists and academics routinely run out of money to purchase more financial statements to properly investigate a particular company or industry. This has clear productivity costs.
If the registry is sold, the information cost barrier is likely to become entrenched and potentially new barriers to information access might be created by the operator.
The sale will also specifically affect the successful introduction of new tax transparency laws – namely, the public register of beneficial ownership. The obvious starting point for such a register would be the existing ASIC register, so selling it off will close off options to ensure these registers are able to work together.
This Guardian article outlines the concerns raised by the Tax Justice Network that selling off ASIC's trove of company data would hinder tax enforcement.
This opinion piece by Alex Malley, Chief Exective of Certified Practicing Accountants, exposes government hypocrisy over the sale.
SIGN THE PETITION
To Prime Minister Turnbull, and the Honourable Members of the House and Senate:
Keep corporate accountability out of corporate control. We call on you to stop the sale of the ASIC corporate registry and keep corporate accountability in public hands.
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