February 2009 (#95)

In this update:

  • Solomon Islands Anti-Corruption Task Force
  • Transparency International lauds President Obama’s commitment to transparency and rule of law
  • Tough graft battle in Asia despite campaigns
  • Australian Government publicises anti-bribery provisions
  • Queensland Local Government Bill 2008
  • In Focus – key issues facing the anti-corruption movement

Solomon Islands Anti-Corruption Task Force

In late January the Solomon Islands Government announced that they will establish an anti-corruption task force and will commit to developing a national anti-corruption policy by the end of 2009.

Transparency International lauds President Obama�s commitment to transparency and rule of law

Transparency International (TI) has welcomed the strong and critically important signal sent by American President Barack Obama�s declaration on his first day in office that �transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency�.

Tough graft battle in Asia despite campaigns

A 16 December 2008 Reuters� news article stated that, �For years, corruption has greased the wheels of commerce and politics in Southeast Asia, a favored destination for investors in emerging markets. Today, government leaders across the region are on the defensive over corruption issues. Anti-graft campaigns have acquired momentum. Empowered anti-corruption bodies are cracking down. Invigorated judiciaries are prosecuting the miscreants.� Despite this, the article goes on to acknowledge that experts believe that the situation has not really improved.

Australian Government publicises anti-bribery provisions

A November 2008 presentation by Peter Scott, Director of the Sanctions and Transnational Crime Section of Foreign Affairs and Trade (part of the International Legal Branch of DFAT) addressed the laws and regulations by which Australia enforces sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council; dealt with Bribery of Foreign Public Officials (the Criminal Code and OECD Convention); and referred to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Corporations.
The main points made were as follows:

  • The Australian Government sees bribery as a trade distortion and urged exporters and investors to report to DFAT bribery by their competitors and demands for bribes by local officials.
  • Australian missions overseas have been instructed to use every avenue available to them to help Australians to do business without giving into demands for bribery.
  •  Every Australian mission overseas has been instructed to report to Canberra, for passing to the AFP, any instance of bribery by Australian corporations or citizens.
  • Facilitation payments are not condoned; unless the recording steps in the Criminal Code are undertaken, the defence is not available.

Queensland Local Government Bill 2008

A new piece of legislation has been tabled in the Queensland Parliament. The Bill seeks to achieve as one of its purposes a system of local government in Queensland that is accountable, effective, efficient and sustainable. Further the Bill spells out the principles of local government on which it stands: (a) transparent and effective processes, and decision-making in the public interest; (b) sustainable development and management of assets and infrastructure, and delivery of effective services; (c) democratic representation, social inclusion and meaningful community engagement; (d) good governance of, and by, local government; and (e) ethical and legal behaviour of councillors and local government employees. This legislation is of great interest in a period when corruption issues have been highlighted in a number of Australian local government municipalities.

In Focus � key issues facing the anti-corruption movement

Transparency International website includes a weekly focus on current anti-corruption issues, using in-depth articles and papers, interviews, video footage and podcasts.