Lobbying and Government Relations

The Green Party is doing New Zealand a favour and pointing out how our politicians are getting so far removed from the people that “lobbyists” or “government relations” specialists are needed.

The Greens haven’t highlighted how many MPs profit from their careers by moving seamlessly from being a politician into selling access as a “lobbyist”.

Here’s how it works. You happen to be a senior cabinet minister who’s missus wants you to work less and spend more time at home, and give up politics. You start looking around for work. You might go to a major law firm and say: “I am looking to change careers and I am wondering if someone of my skills would fit your firm?” to a senior partner. The senior partner says “I see your grades at law school were not that good, and you have a stellar career as a third rate provincial conveyancing lawyer. I shall ask the partner in charge of third rate provincial conveyancing if there are any openings in her team.”

So you mention that your name actually is not “Simon”, but “Hon. Power”, and you would thank the senior partner to remember this. Then you exchange a kind of secret handshake, and everyone agrees that your previous career as a third rate provincial conveyancing lawyer may be overlooked as you have also made a modest impact as a minister of the crown and happen to be exceptionally well connected with other ministers of the crown. A less secret form of handshake, and the deal is done. The big law firm gets access for its clients that it can charge at $500 per hour, the former minister can cash in on all those wasted years listening to constituents complain about the price of milk, judging the best heifer or throwing gumboots and everyone is happy.

Except the Greens and the New Zealand voter who has just discovered they are getting one hard in the arse because you now need to pay a big law firm $500 per hour to get the government to listen to you.

So let’s all support the Greens especially if they push for a mandatory three year stand down or in Green terms “gardening leave” before an elected official can become a “lobbyist” or a “government relations” scumbag.

 


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