Photo: Joey Csunyo

Following two years of advocacy by Australian civil society and the filing by OECD Watch of the first-ever substantiated submission against the Australian National Contact Point (NCP) in 2017, the Australian Treasury announced major reforms to the NCP by the end of 2018. Governments adhering to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (Guidelines) are required to set up an NCP. An NCP’s role is to promote companies’ adoption of the Guidelines’ standards on responsible business conduct. NCPs also provide a platform to help resolve disputes against companies who allegedly have failed to meet the Guidelines’ standards.

The improvements at the Australian NCP include a commitment to establish a new ‘Independent Examiner’ to investigate complaints made against companies under the OECD Guidelines, more simplified evidentiary requirements for complaints, and the creation of an improved ‘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.

OECD Watch is a platform hosted and coordinated by SOMO. Its goal is to raise international standards for corporate accountability.