RegNet Research Paper Series Vol. 4, No.7

Author/s (editor/s):

Neil, Gunningham
Wurth, Elea
Braithwaite, Valerie
Braithwaite, John

Publication year:


Publication type:

Working paper

RegNet Research Paper No. 2016/117

Overcoming the Disconnect: Internal Regulation and the Mining Industry

Neil Gunningham, School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University (ANU)

Studies of regulation have given less attention to the instruments, mechanisms and strategies through which a firm which is committed to achieving given social outcomes (whether prescribed by regulation or otherwise) may best succeed in doing so — what we might term internal regulation — than they have to the various external drivers of corporate social behavior. This article examines internal regulation through a case study of one company and the behavior of its managers, employees and contractors at a number of individual sites with regard to one area of social regulation. The case involves BHP Billiton, arguably an exemplar of modern management techniques, and the study concerns the manifest disconnect between the ambitious occupational health and safety strategies, systems and standards established by head office and the actual behavior of individual managers, employees and contractors at site level. While the case is confined to one social issue, the lessons it provides are of broader application, and have implications for the internal regulation initiatives of complex organisations in diverse areas of social regulation.

RegNet Research Paper No. 2016/118

Impacts of Work Health and Safety Harmonisation on Very Large Businesses

Neil Gunningham, School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University (ANU)

The principal aims of the harmonised work health and safety (WHS) legislation were to reduce the regulatory burden for businesses and undertakings operating in more than one jurisdiction and to achieve significant and continual reductions in work-related deaths, injuries and disease. Through interviews with chief WHS officers in 37 companies, this article examines the impact of the harmonised WHS legislation on very large companies with interstate operations. Overall the harmonised WHS legislation received a positive assessment from the substantial majority of respondents both in terms of how it impacted on compliance and regulatory burdens and in its capacity to achieve significant reductions in work-related death, injury and disease.

RegNet Research Paper No. 2016/119

Tax Practitioners and Tax Avoidance: Gaming through Authorities, Cultures and Markets

Elea Wurth, School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University (ANU); Australian Tax Office and Valerie Braithwaite, School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University (ANU)

Tax practitioners, otherwise referred to as tax agents, tax preparers, tax accountants and tax lawyers, play multiple roles in our tax and financial planning systems. They are gatekeepers to the tax system for those who know they need to engage but want someone else to take care of it for them. Empirical work collected from taxpayers and practitioners supports the idea that practitioners, like other professionals, are responsive to influences from many sources - clients, tax authorities, professional associations, governments, international bodies, and the organisations and cultures in which they work. Tax practitioners operate with imperatives that are not necessarily compatible: to attract clients, meet taxpayer expectations, meet performance standards set by firm partners, build reputation, abide by professional obligations and any associated regulatory standards, and operate in accordance with the rules set down by the tax authority. Tax practitioners have always been considered important as intermediaries of transactions between taxpayers and tax officials. In recent decades their role has become more complicated with recognition that they, not taxpayers hold the special knowledge required to facilitate tax avoidance, or what Lipatov (2012) calls sophisticated as opposed to simple tax evasion.

To understand how to curb the growing acceptance of tax avoidance and the threat it poses to tax systems, the tax practitioner – taxpayer relationship must be understood within a broader social and cultural context. This chapter proposes that the tax practitioner – taxpayer relationship is a micro social process to deliver tax compliance. Three models of the tax practitioner and taxpayer experience are reviewed and research on the role of the tax practitioner is discussed within these frameworks. Finally, new data are presented on how tax practitioners operate within the tax preparation market, with full knowledge of oversight by the tax authority. The findings are based on a survey of over 1,000 practitioners preparing and lodging returns for clients with the Australian Taxation Office (Wurth 2013). Drawing on lessons learnt from these three models, an integrated model is provided to broaden the landscape against which we view and study developments in the tax avoidance industry.

RegNet Research Paper No. 2016/51 (Revised version of 2014 No. 51)

Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation: The Question of Evidence

John Bradford Braithwaite, School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University (ANU)

Restorative justice is a way of selecting strategies to respond to challenges like healing the hurts of crime. Empathic empowerment of stakeholders who take turns to speak in a circle are at the heart of its strategy for strategy selection. Restorative justice can complement responsive regulation. Indeed responsive regulation probably works best when restorative justice is a first preference at the base of a pyramid of strategies. Responsive regulation involves listening and flexible (responsive), deliberative choice among strategies that are arranged in a pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid are more frequently used strategies of first choice that are less coercive, less interventionist, cheaper. The evidence is encouraging that restorative justice and responsive regulation work better than less flexible, less dynamic top-down state decision making. The effectiveness of restorative justice and responsive regulation depends mainly, however, on the efficacy of the intervention strategies that are responsively chosen. It is time to redirect R&D efforts to improving the quality of restorative and responsive strategy selection.

Cite the publication as

RegNet Research Paper Series Vol. 4, No. 7, 2016. School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet)

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet