Australian National Contact Point 2017 Review
The submission to the 2017 review of the Australian National Contact Point (ANCP) was prepared by the Law Council. The Law Council is grateful for the assistance of its Business and Human Rights Committee in the preparation of this submission
The Law Council was pleased to be invited to attend the consultation session on 12 July 2017 at ASIC in Sydney (consultation session) to discuss civil society perspectives on the ANCP.
The submission specifically responds to the relevant online consultation questions proposed by the reviewer, while taking into account the review’s terms of reference. Due to the short timeframe for the preparation of this submission, the Law Council has been unable to seek comment and input from its Constituent Bodies, Sections and Committees, other than its Business and Human Rights Committee.
As a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Australia is committed to implementing the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (Guidelines), which includes establishing a national contact point (NCP) to receive complaints (‘specific instances’) against Australian companies and Australian companies operating abroad.
While Australia has a strong legal framework that governs the activities of companies operating domestically, it does not have a legal framework that specifically regulates the human rights obligations of Australian corporations abroad. In theory, individuals and communities adversely impacted by the activities of Australian corporations abroad should be able to approach their domestic authorities with their complaints. However, in countries where the rule of law is weak, it may be impossible to seek justice, due to government corruption, state-backed violence against marginalised communities, a lack of appropriate legal avenues, and long wait times to access courts and tribunals.
Therefore, the Law Council considers that having an effective ANCP is critical as it represents the only non-judicial, low-cost mechanism that allows individuals and communities to seek redress for harm caused by Australian companies operating abroad, particularly those operating in non-OECD countries without their own NCP. More broadly, the Law Council considers that reforming the ANCP is an essential part of Australia aligning its strategy on business on human rights with international efforts.
You can read the full submission below.