Year

2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Accounting, Economics and Finance

Abstract

The Australian Federal Government in its effort to fulfil its commitment to solving the global issue of climate change established the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act (NGER Act). The State through its Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DOEWR) initiated a consultative process to develop the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System (NGERS) and issued the Regulations Discussion Paper (RDP) in 2007. The public submissions from three professional firms are the focus in this thesis in order to examine the role that the accounting profession played in the development of the NGERS.

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is used, as developed by Fairclough (1989, 1992, 1993, 1995, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2009), to interrogate the submissions from text level, discursive practice level and social practice level. In addition, the texts are analysed with an emphasis on their experiential, relational and expressive values. Consistent with CDA, the views of Fairclough on hegemony and ideology are used as theory to interpret the findings.

The analysis of the submissions reveals a dialectical relationship between the three professional firms and the State (DOEWR). Three agenda items or moments were common in the submissions and the RDP, namely: an Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), reporting system and audit and assurance. At the level of text, the three professional firms asserted their authoritative status in developing an ETS, reporting system and audit and assurance, based on their knowledge and experience of these moments. The level of discursive practice reveals a power struggle between the three professional firms and the State. The State selected international reporting standards, such as GHG Protocol and ISO 14064 while the three professional firms argued for standards set by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB). The level of social practice revealed a possible compromise between stakeholders, as it can be inferred from subordinate legislation of the NGERS.

The transdisciplinary approach of this thesis contributes to the existing accounting literature on the role of the accounting profession in the global arena of climate change. This thesis shows the importance of analysing public submissions to an initial consultative process for NGERS. The culminating influence on the early legislation of NGERS signals a contested arena for the accounting profession and the State.

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