Lobbyist

It’s not a war for Auckland it’s child’s play

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The Media party have a new foot soldier and it’s got something to do with spinning.

It is called the backspinclothespin ,sidespin, lisping,overspin, underspin,tailspin,spindoctor, well something with the word spin in it anyway.  It fancies itself  as a media warrior, one that is going to campaign hard like a political party and influence voters by spinning their version of the truth.

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Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant – Green Hypocrites Outed

I blogged last week about Green MPs and their blubbing over lobbying. I alluded to there being two MPs who enjoyed the company of a lobbyist and her client at parliament despite the calls from their leader to unleash the disinfecting powers of sunlight.

Yesterday Holly Walker blogged again about lobbyists without any mention of the fact at least two Green MPs enjoy the company of lobbyists from time to time:

International best practice is to have a publically available register of lobbyists so that the public knows everyone – not just those who have a special swipe-card – who is seeking to influence decision makers about what.

If our parliament is really as open and accessible as everyone says, there should be no need for particular individuals to have swipe card access.  Read more »

The low rat cunning of Russel Norman

Whaleoil Politician of the Year for 2011, Russel Norman, has again shown his admirable low rat cunning. Lobbyist Mark Unsworth sends a hostile email to an academic, so Russel shines the light of day on it.

Mark Unsworth, of government relations consultancy Saunders Unsworth, e-mailed Massey University environmental scientist Dr Mike Joy on Wednesday in reaction to Joy’s comments to the New york Times on New Zealand’s ‘fantastical’ 100% pure image.

Mr Unsworth’s email – which was sent at 12:15am under the subject line ‘Ego trip’ – was posted by Green Party co-leader Russel Norman on his Facebook page today.

Nice. Make it look like Unsworth has been on the turps when he sent a silly email.

In the emails, Mr Unsworth said although he was an academic, Dr Joy had “let his ego run riot worldwide” while risking jobs and incomes from decreased tourism.

“You guys are the Foot and Mouth Disease of the tourism industry. Most ordinary people in NZ would happily have you lot locked up,” he wrote.

“You may not care given your tenure in a nice comfy University lounge, but to others this affects income and jobs.

You may not agree with Russel on much at all but he is a politician who’s low rat cunning is as good as any in the business. It is probably because he is an Australian and they teach low bastardry from birth over there.

How to fix the lobbying bill

Scott Yorke has found a way to fix the lobbying bill…only make evil people register:

People on the left worry about the ability of big corporations to get their way with politicians, while those on the right probably stress over the malign influence of unions and teachers.

Do we then require every person or organisation that wants to lobby an MP to register as a lobbyist?

No, don’t be ridiculous! We need only make the evil ones do it.

Yes, I can anticipate your objection. How do we decide who is evil, you ask?

He has worked out how to tell who the evil people are.

I’ve got that sorted too. In some cases it will be obvious. For example, if someone wants to establish an adventure park on the outskirts of Hamilton where visitors can pay to squash puppies with large mallets, it’s pretty clear that their people will need to register as lobbyists if they want to go talking to ministers about changing animal welfare rules.

Similarly, the representatives of any large multinational whose goods kill millions of people a year even when taken as recommended, are probably going to have to register as lobbyists if they want to engage with politicians about maintaining sales of their death-bringing products.

In situations where there is doubt about the evil of the lobbyists concerned, my plan would require them to register at a separate Register of Possibly Evil Lobbyists. Anyone who put their name on the Register of Possibly Evil Lobbyists would then have 20 working days to submit an application for a hearing before a special board, which would consider whether or not the lobbyists concerned were genuinely evil, or just misunderstood nice folks.

This Evil Lobbyist Consideration Administration Board (ELCAB) would make its determination, and applicants would have the right to appeal adverse decisions to a higher body, the Evil Lobbyist Consideration Appeal Authority (ELCAA). An appeal to the High Court would be allowed from that body.

Following a determination that a lobbyist is evil, the lobbyist would then register on the Register of Lobbyists.

Don’t laugh, Holly Walker is probably amending her bill as we speak.

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The trouble with Chauvel’s amendment

Karl Du Fresne

Charles Chauvel inadvertently reinforced for many the belief that Labour is captured  by the unions. Karl du Fresne explains why and also how this will likely cause trouble between the Greens and Labour:

In other words, transparency’s all very well when it’s wicked professional lobbyists and corporates who are under scrutiny, but Chauvel thinks people like Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly and secretary Peter Conway – two of the lobbyists outed last week as having swipe cards giving them special access to Parliament – should be allowed to continue flying under the radar. They are, he says, “less sinister” than the other sort of lobbyist. Well, he would say that, given Labour’s need to protect its friends and benefactors in the unions.But hang on. Either we have transparency or we don’t. Chauvel wants us to believe that union lobbyists are all honourable people with unimpeachable motives, so can be relied on to go about their business without scrutiny, while anyone representing business is by definition “sinister” and cannot be trusted. Good luck with that, as they say. He also expects us to assume that all charities, churches and NGOs are by definition beyond suspicion when many of them are highly politicised and should be subjected to exactly the same rules of transparency as everyone else.

The trouble with Chauvel’s panicky back-pedalling is that it immediately creates the suspicion that Labour and the unions have something to hide. The public are not stupid: they will think it very telling that Labour and the unions are the only people baulking at the Walker bill.

It also hints at the tensions that would inevitably arise in a Labour-Greens coalition, where the well-intentioned idealism of Green MPs like Walker would sit very uncomfortably alongside the murky realpolitik practised by Labour.

Sure you didn’t talk TV, yeah we believe you

NZ Herald

I broke the story of David Shearer having a nice quiet dinner with Tony O’Brien of Sky TV. It was then followed up by the media. When they asked David Shearer about the dinner he said that they had a social evening and didn’t discuss business.

John Drinnan has followed that up and found out that there was another guest at the dinner at the home of dirty lobbyist Tony O’Brien…Sky TV CEO John Fellet.

Sky TV chief executive John Fellet was also present at a private dinner party attended by Opposition leader David Shearer at the home of Sky lobbyist Tony O’Brien, the pay-TV company has confirmed.

The dinner, first reported in theBusiness Herald on Friday, took place on April 27 and was also attended by the wives of the three men.

Private dinner parties with lobbyists are not restricted, but the timing was unusual. Sky TV’s ultimate owner News Corporation was under attack in the UK for allegedly using excessive leverage on politicians.

In this country, private meetings between business interests and politicians are under intense scrutiny amid controversy over Kim Dotcom’s donations to John Banks’ mayoral campaign and debate about Government involvement in the SkyCity convention centre deal.

Shearer is supporting a private members bill calling for more scrutiny of lobbyists.

Acknowledging he and his wife attended the dinner, Shearer did not discuss whether Fellet was present. He insisted there was no discussion of Labour’s broadcasting policy.

Are we really to believe that broadcasting was never discussed at all, despite the head of Sky TV being present and their lobbyist…I mean what on earth could the dinner have been about?

Perhaps David Shearer shared witty stories about how he once fed millions on just a few mango skins chucked off the back of a truck.

You know there is more to this when you get the Cold Mold:

Shearer’s chief press secretary Francesca Mold said the Opposition leader’s office “will not be answering any further questions from you on this issue”.

Chart of the Day

via Boing Boing

Nicko from the Sunlight Foundation sez, “Today the Sunlight Foundation continued an investigation of how congressional offices operate with a closer look at the ever-present “Revolving Door.” The new analysis, covering 2009 to 2011, found at least 378 House staffers left Congress and became registered lobbyists, according to a review of U.S. House disbursement data and federal lobbying records. This group of former House offices and committee staffers includes 50 legislative assistants, 32 chiefs of staff, 26 legislative directors and 22 staff assistants who moved from Capitol Hill to K Street.

Perhaps there is some merit in the Greens proposal to register lobbyists. I am yet to be convinced of the point of that.