When political lobbyists and campaign “donations” dominate the political process, is it really a democracy any more? Case in point, America, democracy or a plutocracy in Cartier drag?
Like most democracies, NZ is some way down that path. But The Greens have proposed taking at least one useful step back:
Greens’ bill rips veil off lobbying
Lobbyists who try to sway politicians behind closed doors could face tougher scrutiny under proposed legislation.
Activities such as dinners with the prime minister and watching rugby games from corporate boxes would need to be disclosed through registers proposed under the Green Party bill.
Searchable registers overseas mean it is easier to find out which New Zealand businesses have been bending the ears of politicians in Washington DC, Ottawa and Canberra, than at home.
Green Party MP Holly Walker’s Lobbying Disclosure Bill, modelled on the Canadian version, aims to bring transparency to MPs dealings with lobbyists.
Such transparency is a necessary part of a more open and democratic political process (though by no means sufficient of course, America apparently has similar legislation already in place). Anthony Hubbard has a good overview of the issues surrounding the new Bill and the range of opinion on it.
I would have expected the Nats to have rejected such a bill out of hand. I am pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong, at least so far:
Prime Minister John Key has thrown National’s support behind a move to force political lobbying out from the shadows and into the open. He says National will conditionally support the Greens’ bill to make lobbying more transparent. …
“I’m fundamentally not opposed to a bill that might register what lobbyists are up to,” says Prime Minister John Key.
A Green Party bill will soon go before Parliament seeking to have paid lobbyists register which MPs they meet and what they are talking about.
National’s support is conditional to the select committee stage only.
“We are an outlier,” says Mr Key. “Most other countries have some kind of disclosure regime and we don’t. It’s worth looking at.” …
If National carries on and continues to support the bill, then credit where it’s due, I will be impressed. How about we then take the logical next step, and clean up money in politics? Of course that would mean the Nats doing away with the trusts that launder their donations. How about it John?