The Watchdog

Keeping citizens in the loop

NBR: ‘Lobbyist explains his swipe card into Parliament’ + my comments

www.nbr.co.nz/article/lobbyist-explains-his-swipe-card-parliament-ck-95247#comment-141621

(14 June 2011)

Lobbyist explains his swipe card into Parliament

Cynics might think corporate lobbyists have easy access to MPs.

In fact, it’s automated.

An item on 3News last night showed veteran lobbyist Mark Unsworth, of Saunders Unsworth using a swipe card to enter parliament.

Mr Unsworth’s clients include Sky City, the 50% Telecom-owned Southern Cross Cable, and multinational pharmaceutical companies.

3News reporter Patrick Gower subsequently told Without a Word of a Lie that “about eight” other lobbyists have been issued with their own swipe cards. Speaker Lockwood Smith refuses to confirm their identity.

Mr Unsworth, who was unlucky enough to be the one of the eight who got his mug plastered over TV, gamely fronted up to Without a Word of a Lie.

“I got the card about 15 years ago, and through the good will of both Labour and National Speakers I have kept it,” the lobbyiist said.

“It’s like getting an Internet connection. It enables you but doesn’t guarantee you get access to the facts or the source of knowledge.”

Greens draft lobbyist bill Last night, the Green Party said it had drafted a bill seeking to let the public know who is lobbying MPs. Green MP Sue Kedgley’s Lobbying Disclosure Bill would set up a register and a code of conduct for lobbyists.

The bill was modelled on a Canadian public disclosure regime.

“Lobbying is entrenched in our political system, but lobbyists are able to operate in secret and under the radar, in the shadows of the democratic process,” Ms Kedgley said.

“The public has no way of knowing who is lobbying their politicians or what they are being lobbied about. There is also no information available on which lobbyists have special access to Parliament granted to them by the Speaker.

“We believe the public has a right to know who is engaged in lobbying activities that seek to influence public policy.” Australia, Canada, and the United States have lobbyist registers. Ms Kedgley said the secrecy surrounding lobbying activities fuelled the perception that Government decisions were being unfairly influenced, undermining public trust in the integrity of democracy.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the bill was part of the party’s wider drive for more transparent Government.

“Real democracy should be a battle of ideas, not a battle of who has the best and most expensive lobbyists. The time has come for lobbyists to step into the light”

“I hope Parliament will have the courage to set up a register, and put public interest ahead of vested interests who may oppose this Bill.”

The bill will be put into a ballot with other member’s bills, waiting to be drawn in Parliament — a process that can take years. Once it is drawn member’s often bills often fail at the first reading unless supported by other parties.

______________________________________________________________

Comments and questions 7

Are you sure it is the Greens promoting this? It can’t possibly be – sounds like something sensible. TOM |

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 – 9:46am

reply

I wonder if this might trip up Labour and their good buddy Owen Glenn by inadvertently exposing his interest in Labour? One wonders where he might fit into the Labour line-up after the election? openingmouthtochangefeet |

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 – 10:24am

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By lobbiest I hope the parties on the left have included unions and the likes of forest and bird and greenpeace in their definition of lobbiest? Off Line |

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 – 10:34am

reply

In response to Off Line | Tuesday, June 14, 2011 – 10:34am Spot on! Footplate |

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 – 10:52am

reply

“Green MP Sue Kedgley’s Lobbying Disclosure Bill would set up a register and a code of conduct for lobbyists. The bill was modelled on a Canadian public disclosure regime.

“Lobbying is entrenched in our political system, but lobbyists are able to operate in secret and under the radar, in the shadows of the democratic process,” Ms Kedgley said.

“The public has no way of knowing who is lobbying their politicians or what they are being lobbied about. There is also no information available on which lobbyists have special access to Parliament granted to them by the Speaker.

“We believe the public has a right to know who is engaged in lobbying activities that seek to influence public policy.”

__________________________________

MY COMMENT:

Absolutely agree.

Hope Sue Kedgley’s ‘ Lobbying Disclosure Bill’ gets pulled out of the ballot box SOON!

“WHO IS MEETING THE MINISTER – ON WHOSE BEHALF – SERVING WHOSE INTEREST$?”

Not only does NZ have no statutory requirement for a ‘Register of Lobbyists’ or ‘Code of Conduct for Lobbyists’ – unlike most Australian States and Commonwealth Governments, to make matters worse – New Zealand MPs, (and Judges) have no enforceable ‘Code of Conduct’ either.

So – how is it that NZ is ‘perceived’ to be the least corrupt country in the world’ (along with Denmark and Singapore according to Transparency International’s 2010 ‘Corruption Perception Index’) – when we lack transparency and accountability in such critical areas?

A COMPARISON WITH ‘AUSSIE RULES’ :

For a bit more background reading, of a summary of codes of conduct in Australian parliament, including a comparison with NZ –

www.aph.gov.au/Library/pubs/BN/pol/CodesOfConduct.htm

Penny Bright https://waterpressure.wordpress.com

‘Anti-corruption campaigner’

Attendee: Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference 2009

Attendee: Transparency International 14th Anti-Corruption Conference 2010

| Tuesday, June 14, 2011 – 12:53pm

reply ”

By lobbiest I hope the parties on the left have included unions and the likes of forest and bird and greenpeace in their definition of lobbiest?

Off Line | Tuesday, June 14, 2011 – 10:34am ”

__________________________________

No – don’t think you will find Unions or ‘association or organisation constituted to represent the interests of its members’ defined as ‘lobbyists’.

“Lobbyist” means a person, body corporate, unincorporated association, partnership or firm whose business includes being contracted or engaged to represent the interests of a third party to a Government Representative.’

_________________________________

WEST AUSTRALIA STATE GOVERNMENT:

secure.dpc.wa.gov.au/lobbyistsregister/

“Lobbyist” does not include:

(a) an association or organisation constituted to represent the interests of its members; (b) a religious or charitable organisation; or

(c) an entity or person whose business is a recognised technical or professional occupation which, as part of the services provided to third parties in the course of that occupation, represents the views of the third party who has engaged it to provide their technical or professional services.”

________________________________

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: WEST AUSTRALIA STATE GOVERNMENT: secure.dpc.wa.gov.au/lobbyistsregister/

Register of Lobbyists

Towards the end of 2006, the Western Australian Government decided to establish a code of conduct for contact between lobbyists and government representatives, including a ‘Register of Lobbyists’.

The purpose of the Register is to provide information to the public, as well as the Government, on who is engaged in lobbying activities with Government and whom lobbyists represent in their dealings with Government.

To find out more about the Register, who needs to register, how to register and the ‘Contact with Lobbyists Code’, or to look at the Register, use the links on the left hand side of this page. Page last revised: 5 October 2010

Contact With Lobbyists Code Preamble

Free and open access to the institutions of government is a vital element of our democracy. Lobbyists can enhance the strength of our democracy by assisting individuals and organisations with advice on public policy processes and facilitating contact with relevant Government Representatives.

In performing this role, there is a public expectation that Lobbyists will be individuals of strong moral calibre who operate according the highest standards of professional conduct.

The Government has established the Contact with Lobbyists Code to ensure that contact between Lobbyists and Government Representatives is conducted in accordance with public expectations of transparency, integrity and honesty.

Application

2.1 The Contact with Lobbyists Code has application through the Codes of Conduct of public sector bodies.

2.2 The Contact with Lobbyists Code creates no obligation for a Government Representative to have contact with a particular Lobbyist or Lobbyists in general.

2.3 The Contact with Lobbyists Code does not serve to restrict contact in situations where the law requires a Government Representative to take account of the views advanced by a person who may be a Lobbyist. Definitions “Lobbyist” means a person, body corporate, unincorporated association, partnership or firm whose business includes being contracted or engaged to represent the interests of a third party to a Government Representative.

________________________________

Penny Bright

waterpressure.wordpress.com

‘Anti-corruption campaigner’

Attendee: Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference 2009

Attendee: Transparency International 14th Anti-Corruption Conference 2010

Penny Bright | Tuesday, June 14, 2011 – 12:56pm

June 14, 2011 - Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Fighting corruption internationally, Internationally significant information, Transparency in Govt spending

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