Agreeing with the Greens on Scum Lobbyists

Sue Kedgley is doing New Zealand a favour and outing the scum lobbyists who are getting in the way of democracy. So as much as this blog considers the Greens to be batshit mad, it is supporting this policy and Sue.

Under the Greens’ proposal, lobbyists would have to register with the Auditor General’s office and file quarterly returns detailing which politicians they’d spoken with and on what issues. That information would be publicly accessible.

The Auditor General would also draw up a code of conduct and any breaches would result in suspension or even fines.

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

“We want to get lobbying out of the shadows and ensure it takes place in as open a way as possible.”

The only problem with this is it doesn’t go far enough. In some states in Australia there is a mandatory stand down period for politicians so they cannot go from being a politician to selling access. Like here, where politicians move to a “government relations” or “communications” firm and then sell access to their old contacts. One former senior National MP boasted about having all but two of cabinet to a party at his firm.

This is an absolute disgrace, as it gives people on the inside the opportunity to gain outcomes that are not available to those on the outside. This is a form of compliance cost or tax that New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses can do without. Sue, beef up your legislation to include a mandatory three year stand down period for all former MPs before they make money from lobbying.


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  • peterwn

    There is an easier way than this. The PM merely needs to remind Ministers now and again that their stakeholders are the voters, not lobbyists. If Ministers open their ears to lobbyists and close their ears to electors, they can look forward for 6-9 years without Beehive offices or BMW’s.

    As much as I hate Helen Clark, I did admire her response when the (now defunct) Tobacco ‘Institute’ tried to lobby her as Health Minister. She simply told them where to stick it.

  • gazzaw

    As much as Sue Kedgley’s move is very laudable she has got as much chance of getting this through the House as getting turkeys to vote for Christmas. This is a great little perk that fits perfectly with a couple of sinecure directorships and the MPs’ golden super scheme. Once a trougher…………………………

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  • berend

    Lobbyists wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t have that much legislation, or if the government doesn’t have much power.

    Only when the government can influence real outcomes in the private sector will you get lobbyists.

    So disagree whaleoil, the problem is not the lobbyists, they’re just the symptoms.

  • cadwallader

    Well put Berend. Gazzaw: Where do you derive your mis-information? I am yet to meet an MP of any party who treats lobbyists with anything other than disdain.

    • gazzaw

      Mis-information? Let’s start with Katherine Rich, chief lobbyist for the food industry. One of her strengths for the job is described by her boss as her ‘political understanding’.