Is there an ethical duty to pay tax? Is paying tax part of a corporation’s ‘license to operate’? Is there a human right to good governance?

These questions, highlighted by the Panama Papers, Unaoil and banking scandals will be examined at a Regional Ethics Forum on Business, Tax and Governance on Wednesday, April 27 at Queensland Parliament.

Forum Co-Chair, Professor Charles Sampford from the Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law at Griffith University said many in business realised their responsibilities were not just confined to increasing share value but to other stakeholders and the broader community under a ‘social license to operate’.

“They have joined in a range of business and other groups to adopt values that state these wider duties to communities and governments in which they operate,’’ he said.

These include the United Nations Global Compact, the UN’s Principles of Responsible Investment, Caux Round Table principles, the Earth Charter, Green Cross and others.

“While the principles advocated by such groups are broadly consistent, they often lack guidance in difficult or contested areas — especially in tax.”

He said corporate taxation and good governance in a globalised world had been on G20 agenda and other summits for several years.

“While tax globalisation has long been a challenge to revenue authorities, it has increased the opportunities for companies operating in multiple jurisdictions. This is what is known as ‘base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS).

“Tax minimisation and corruption impinge on human rights. BEPS reduces the resources available for states to play their role in advancing human rights.

“Some suggest that corruption is an abuse of human rights or, more positively, that good governance is, itself, a human right.”

The forum to discuss these issues is hosted by the World Ethics Forum (WEF), the Caux Round Table, the International Institute for Public Ethics and three Griffith University based centres — the Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, the Law Futures Centre and the Centre for Sustainable Enterprise.

WHAT: Regional Ethics Forum on Business, Tax and Governance

WHEN: Wednesday April 27, 8.30am-5pm

WHERE: Legislative Council Chamber — Queensland Parliament, George Street