October 4, 2017 Read More →

Corruption Risk Seen in Australian Coal Deals

The Guardian:

A new report shines a critical light on the links between mining companies, lobbyists and politicians, pointing to the Indian mining giant Adani as an example of how a company with a questionable record overseas can still gain mining approval in Australia.

It warns the political mining complex in Australia’s two biggest mining states, Western Australian and Queensland, is “susceptible to corruption” due to key weaknesses in their approvals regimes, including inadequate due diligence investigation into the companies and individuals applying for mining leases.

It also criticises the “revolving doors” of personnel between government and industry broadly, and political donations regimes.

The report, published by Transparency International Australia (TIA), Corruption Risks: Mining Approvals in Australia, was released on Wednesday.

Its authors conducted 47 interviews with experts from government, industry, civil society, academics, Indigenous traditional owners and consultants in Perth and Brisbane to gather its evidence. Its list of key weaknesses in the mining approvals regimes is long.

The researchers says “industry influence” is a corruption risk in Australia, particularly with regard to large infrastructure project approvals in Queensland and WA.

It notes the mining industry has disclosed donations of $16.6m to major political parties over the past 10 years (2006-07 to 2015-16), and warns the under-regulated system of political donations can allow special interest groups to attempt to influence policy-making at all levels of government.

It highlights the “revolving doors” of personnel between government an industry as a risk in Australia generally.

It points out 191 of 538 lobbyists (35.5%) registered by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, as of September 2016, were former government representatives.

The researchers also warn government departments involved in the mining approvals process in Queensland and WA do not undertake adequate due diligence into the character and integrity of applicants for mining leases, including companies’ track records overseas, and investigations of their financial capacity do not involve an examination of beneficial ownership to understand who the real owners are.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis also warned this week that Adani’s ambitions in Queensland faced a new risk, with the company having to refinance more than $2bn in debt on the Abbot Point coal terminal – more than it paid for the port in 2011.

More: Mining companies’ links with politicians ‘susceptible to corruption’ – report

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