Yesterday was a great day at City Hall in the heart of Brisbane.
An unusual bunch gathered – business people with a wide range of experience; academics, pastors, lawyers, policy analysts and G20 watchers.
We had a couple of things in common: a desire to encourage the best standards in business at every level following God’s values, so that the whole community can flourish; and we wanted to use the G20 presence in Brisbane as an opportunity to explore some of the global injustices that hold back enterprise and development.
When we started the EXPOSED campaign we wanted to engage business people who see their work as mission to take the lead in integrity and provide positive models for the community. We did not want to bash business (or the G20). We just want business to be as effective, honest and successful as possible.
Mats Tunehag from the Business As Mission think tank summed up the important economic role of business in one statistic, “SMEs (small and medium sized business) provide as much as 90% of a nation’s tax base.”
So the vexed question of multinationals aggressively avoiding tax through base erosion (shifting profits around the world to the places where tax is lowest eg 1% in Luxembourg) was immediately relevant to all the business guys at the meeting – they want to do the right thing and feel that complex rules hem them in; but rules are needed to control rampant greed and unethical behaviour.
Professor Graeme Cooper, taxation specialist from Sydney University told us that tax is beautiful because it’s complex and it’s too important to leave to the politicians alone. Yesterday we affirmed that and decided to take personal and communal action because tax affects us all and is vital to development.
The highlights of the day for me?
1. Graham Power telling his story of making the radical decision to step away from corrupt business practice, when God convicted him.
2. the total agreement from everyone that business is not just profit – it must pursue financial, intellectual, cultural, social and spiritual good.
3. the statement that we produced together setting out what we want to see and how. It’s being finalised today but paragraph 2 says,
“As Christian business people committed to integrity, the highest quality service and proper use of all resources, we applaud the plans of G20 to institute effective global rules on tax and business transparency.”
Thanks to the ‘unusual bunch’ for a great day.