16 May 2011

To moderate the corrupting potential of lobbying, the OECD last year issued Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying which member states are encouraged to implement. The first principle seeks to ensure that there is a level playing field for all stakeholders to have equal access to decision makers in government. The other principles provide structures to achieve this.

Successive New Zealand Governments have shown no interest in controlling the lobbying of Ministers and officials. New Zealand politicians feel that, as we have a level playing field and a culture of integrity, further regulation is unnecessary.  Almost every other OECD country is strengthening constraints on lobbyists.

Lobbying controls are a priority for the incoming Government in New South Wales.  As one of the very first considerations of the new Parliament, legislation was introduced last week intended to restore public trust and confidence in government, allegedly lost through the misuse of influence under the previous administration.

The premier had “… bad news for people in this House and outside this House, for businesses in this State, and anyone else who believes that by employing a lobbyist they are going to get better access to my Government or get an inside run on a decision, a tender or anything else, that they are wasting their money. Those days are over.”

NSW already has a lobbying code, a register of lobbyists and disclosure requirements. A prohibition on success fees will now be added to those controls.