We seek to strike an appropriate balance between public accountability and our obligations to respect client confidentiality.
Disclosure and transparency
To maintain the trust and confidence our stakeholders place in us, we seek to conduct our business in a transparent manner. Our commitment to transparency is demonstrated by the following:
- Annual Report: our annual report is tabled in Parliament and made available on our website to provide information about our operations.
- Transaction reporting: we provide information on our transactions that exceeds the reporting obligations of the global standards we apply under our Policy and Procedure on environmental and social review of transactions. We make information publically available regarding transactions we supported in the current financial year in our transaction register. We also disclose our proposed involvement in transactions associated with projects with a potential for significant adverse environmental and/or social impacts, prior to making a decision. We invite public input on our participation in such transactions. We also issue media releases on some of the transactions we support.
- Complaints mechanism: any person concerned about, or affected by our activities (including a project supported by one of our transactions) may submit a complaint through our complaints mechanism. All complaints are referred to our Board Audit Committee.
- Multi-stakeholder forum: we regularly hold a forum to communicate and share information with civil society organisations on issues related to our commitment to uphold best practice environmental and social standards in the transactions we support.
- Independent policy / procedure audit: the application of our Policy and Procedure on environmental and social review of transactions is audited every two years. The audit reports are provided to the Export Finance Australia Board and made available on our website.
- Accountability: we are part of the Australian Government’s Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio (DFAT) and are accountable to the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and to the Australian Parliament.
While we aim to be as transparent as possible regarding our operations, we are also legally required to maintain client confidentiality.
The Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Act 1991 (EFIC Act) requires our employees and members of the Export Finance Australia Board to keep client information confidential, subject to certain limited exceptions. A breach of these statutory confidentiality obligations is a criminal offence. To reinforce this duty, we have developed a confidentiality policy that outlines the obligations and responsibilities of staff when handling confidential information.
We operate in commercial markets where it is commonly required to give contractual confidentiality undertakings with respect to transaction information.
Our statutory and contractual confidentiality obligations are critical to our clients – they expect and depend on our compliance with these obligations. Without the reassurance that we can keep information confidential, the quality of information provided to us may be prejudiced. In turn, this could impair our ability to prudently make informed decisions on the risks of the transactions we are considering supporting. It could also produce adverse implications for project outcomes, competitive disadvantage for Australian exporters and financial losses for our organisation.
Freedom of information
We are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982, (FOI) although we are partially exempt from some of the provisions. Our partial exemption is consistent with the statutory duty of confidentiality under the Export Finance Australia Act and recognizes our need to maintain client confidentiality. We are required to comply with the Information Publication Scheme (IPS) requirements of the FOI Act, including publishing an IPS Plan. This Plan describes the information we publish, how the information is published and how we comply with IPS requirements.