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Corporate accountability PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 13 January 2006 01:22
Recently Kellogg Brown and Root was controversially awarded a contract to upgrade the Bangalow Sewage works, leading to a flurry of letters in the local press, and an explanation of the legal reasons behind the decision by Councillor Tom Tabart. The following letter was submitted to the paper, and is posted here with links to the references made. I'd like to thank Cr Tom Tabart in his letter about the Kellogg Brown and Root (Halliburton) contract for the Bangalow Sewage works, for reminding us once again that our councillors are also stuck within a system not of their making with rules that they have to follow. I'd like to encourage council to explore the choices available for widening the parameters they can use in choosing contractors. I know that as a private business it is considered normal for me to consider the ethics of my suppliers - whether individuals or companies. In KBR's case it should have been possible for council to consider the fact that KBR had overcharged governments in the US, Bosnia and Iraq, and that this makes them an inappropriate supplier to any government anywhere in the world. Council could start the process by requesting any potential supplier to provide details of any issues relevant to their ethics when bidding on any contract, specifically lists of any environmental violations they, or a related company (e.g. Haliburton) have been charged with or convicted for anywhere in the world. Add to that anything relating to fraud, corruption, and to foreshadow potential legal action, details of any legal actions between the company and its customers or governments. Such a request for information, while minimally impacting small, local businesses would give council a wealth of material on which to make a decision. After all, if companies can use their experience worldwide as part of their claims while tendering for a contract, why shouldn't they also be held responsible for their crimes worldwide. Local authorities worldwide are taking the lead from their national governments, who are frequently owned by these same corporations, for example Wayne, Pennsyslvania in the US has a "Corporate Accountability Ordinance" which prevents companies doing businesses with the town if they have more three or more significant violations over the past 15 years. And in case we think this is not effective, in 1996 Motorola stopped selling components to make land-mines largely because many local governments stopped purchasing from them for ethical reasons. I'd also like to take this opportunity to encourage local businesses, small or large, that care about sustainability and ethics to join us in the Byron Sustainable Ventures Network, where we actively explore ways in which we can steer our businesses in directions that benefit the planet and our communities.