CAMAC issues corporate social responsibility report

The Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee ("CAMAC") has issued its report on The social responsibility of corporations. The report aims to provide a pathway through the mass of material
and opinions on this subject, as well as respond to questions raised in
the terms of reference from the Government in 2005.

The report suggests that a company will be
socially responsible if it operates in an open and accountable manner,
uses its resources for productive ends, complies with relevant
regulatory requirements and acknowledges and takes responsibility for
the consequences of its actions.

The report recognises the importance of
companies being run with a proper regard to the social and
environmental consequences of their conduct. It concludes that existing
legal requirements are sufficiently flexible to enable corporate
decision-makers to take into account the environmental and other social
aspects of their decisions.

According to CAMAC, any amendment of the Corporations Act
to expressly to require or permit directors to have regard to enumerated
special interests would not be likely to improve the quality of
corporate decision-making and could in fact be counterproductive by
clouding the accountability of directors.

The report makes the point that
transparency is a cornerstone of responsibility. It notes that
corporate practice on the reporting of social and environmental aspects
is evolving within a framework of legislative, stock exchange and
market requirements and guidelines. It concludes that s 299A of the
Corporations Act is an appropriate platform for the further development
of such reporting. It recommends that this reporting obligation be
extended beyond listed public companies to all listed entities. Beyond
that, the Committee does not see a need at this stage for legislative
elaboration of reporting requirements.

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