2 March 2011
There is lobbying and lobbying. Making submission to parliamentary select committees fits the democratic model. Interested groups transparently seek to have their viewpoint considered when legislation is being developed. An award winning entry in the recent Mix and Mash competition for data Mashups provides readily accessible information about organisations that frequent lobby the New Zealand Parliament.
In New Zealand the more questionable face of lobbyists – the undisclosed engagements with Ministers and government decision makers – gets no media attention and has no profile. The OECD Governance Committee seeks to open up awareness of this type of influence through formal registration of lobbyists, and disclosure of lobbyists’ contacts with government. The Principles of Lobbying published in February are a tool for promoting this sort of transparency. Regulation of lobbyists is in place to varying degrees in the majority of OECD countries. In a number of jurisdictions, NGOs are active in disclosing the activities of lobbyists. In the United States where the lobbying sector channels multimillions of dollars to elected representatives and their parties, there are growing numbers of websites linking donors, beneficiaries, sums involved, and how voting trends reflect the interests of the donors.