4 July 2011

The New South Wales Premier when in opposition, advocated the tightening up of lobbying practices . Change became a reality on 1 July when the State government published a Revised Code of Conduct for Lobbyists. These measures strengthen provisions of the 2009 code. Two criminal offences are created.

  •  Former Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries commit an offence if they lobby an official about any matter on which they had a portfolio responsibility in the 18 months before they ceased to hold office. (In NSW, a parliamentary secretary may be either an MP or MLC, and on behalf of Ministers, meets with stakeholders and members of the public, attend public events and helping to formulate Government policy.)
  • Anyone paying or receiving a success fee, relating to lobbying, commits an offence. Any lobbyist convicted of this offence will be deregistered from the register of lobbyists.

The new rules also prohibit the appointment of a lobbyist, or anyone working with a lobbyist, to any government board or committee, including SOEs, if the agency functions relate to anything that the lobbyist has engaged in during the 12 month period preceding the proposed appointment.

A few comments by political bloggers in mid June when a Greens MP sought to introduce a Lobbying Disclosure Bill is the extent of public interest in New Zealand. There is very little concern that lobbying and related conflicts of interests may have an undermining effect on good government. The OECD Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying, launched in February 2011, have not led to any official response in New Zealand.