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Shine some sunlight on lobbying

Written By: - Date published: 9:38 am, April 17th, 2012 - 17 comments
Categories: accountability, political alternatives - Tags: , , ,

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?

17 comments on “Shine some sunlight on lobbying”

  1. Kotahi Tane Huna 1

    If the National Party stops soliciting and receiving bribes, how will they cope with abandoning their entire philosophy?

  2. alex 2

    I wrote about this a few days ago here:
    http://afinetale.blogspot.co.nz/2012/04/how-many-parties-will-sign-up-to-this.html
    When it seemed like National would not sign up to this. It isn’t really in their interests to have more transparency around money in politics, they were by far the biggest spenders at the last election. However I’m glad they look like doing something in the interests of voters for a change.

    • muzza 2.1

      “I’m glad they look like doing something in the interests of voters for a change”

      – “Look like” – Its only about manageing the perception, nothing more than that!

  3. felix 3

    I note that Matthew Hooten, a prominent lobbyist, is very supportive of this bill.

    • That’s because it only requires registration of lobbying and doesn’t actually restrict it- from his view it sanitises his business with only the minor extra cost of dealing with the regulation.

      So, let’s not get ahead of ourselves- this is only good news from National if they support it all the way through. Still, they’re likely to get plenty of input, so that’s certainly possible if some stumbling block doesn’t emerge.

    • Lanthanide 3.2

      Probably just so he can keep tabs on his opposition.

  4. Bored 4

    I see the Cameron scandal where the Vice Chancellor sold his time to lobbyists has been quietly “media managed” from the spotlight.

  5. Tangled up in blue 5

    If probably looks better if National at least let the Bill go before Parliament rather than declaring a premature veto.

  6. vto 6

    Good move by the Greens. Lobbying in many of its guises is simply a minor form of corruption.

    It should also extend to past Members and especially past Ministers. These people should not be able to use their contacts and knowledge and etc of the system to personally advance themselves post-MP status. For example, Simon Power at Westpac. How much will his previous and current roles overlap and to what purpose are they being applied?

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Society is social and hierarchical and success is more about who you know than what you know. Those who don’t socialise well or socialise with the wrong people will forever be “unsuccessful” no matter how hard they work.

    • If they’re being paid, they’ll be covered. If they’re not being paid to lobby, then I’m not sure how you could cover them without getting into situations where interest groups and ordinary citizens would be required to file paperwork for lobbying too, which is getting slightly ridiculous. If you cover ex-MPs the same way you cover current MPs, you’re wading into murky territory, as we have thousands of ex-MPs at any one time- do you propose that everyone from business who has a discussion with one of them should need to register?

      What’s really important is extending this to cover officials as well as sitting MPs, because often lobbyists will go directly to the people providing advice or doing the policy drafts.

  7. Great idea.
    Looking forward to seeing the lists of people involved in Lobbying Parliamentarians.
    Assume it will include Commercial Lobby groups, Trade Unionists, Greenpeace and their associates, Mainstream Media – eg TV channels, Newspapers and Magazines. Grey Power.
    University Hierarchy. Maori Iwi – or will they be excluded ?
    Sure can think of others later but this will be a start.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 7.1

      Yep – and then the National Party will have to explain why it represents the desires of the tiny minority (commercial lobby) groups against organisations with democratic structures and/or large membership numbers.

    • mike e 7.2

      footrot 99% of the lobbyists are from big business .They have swipe cards which allows them unfettered access to parliament.
      None of the groups you name above have said access!

  8. burt 8

    It’s an excellent proposal. Now get it past the dinosaur major parties…. Key’s comments quoted above are sufficiently loose for him to take any stance as this progresses. Typical PM slippery speak.

    Oh, and has anyone got any links to anything Winston Peters has said about this?

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    Aotearoa’s new New Zealanders,  come to our country in vulnerable position: – often away from the culture, communities and families they know, sometimes in neighbourhoods without familiar faces and often encountering barriers to employment. With net migration at 50,000+ a… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    1 day ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 day ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 day ago
  • A great Budget would
    A great Budget would embrace the challenge of our polluted rivers and move the money away from justifying the status quo water rules into cleaning up waterways. A great Budget would take the Ministry for the Environment freshwater budget and… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 day ago
  • Budget building materials policy backfires
    On the eve of this year’s Budget official figures show Nick Smith’s Budget 2014 centrepiece to reduce the cost of building materials has backfired, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officials have spent the… ...
    1 day ago
  • Smarter, Better, Cleaner, Stronger
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    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 day ago
  • Govt must come clean on tax cuts in Budget
    National is making a mockery of the Budget process by dangling the promise of tax cuts but failing to include them in the Budget, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “National’s tax cut promises have turned into a farce. One… ...
    2 days ago
  • Grant Robertson Pre-Budget Speech
    Today I want to talk about success. As we know success can come in many different forms, from the fact you all made it here at such an early hour on a Monday, for which I am very grateful, to… ...
    2 days ago
  • Budget must deliver for middle New Zealand
    The Government must ensure next week’s Budget stops the squeeze on middle New Zealand and delivers shared prosperity for all New Zealanders, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. The call follows new research commissioned by Labour that shows working… ...
    3 days ago
  • Our housing emergency – why we have to act
    Marama and Metiria at Homes Not Cars launch On Thursday, Metiria Turei announced the Green Party’s plan to start addressing the emergency housing crisis facing our country. Too many people are without homes right now – homeless. It is the… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    4 days ago
  • Will funding boost for sexual violence services go to the right places?
    This week the Government announced $46million for sexual violence services. This announcement was a result of decades of work by advocates and everyone who submitted to the Select Committee inquiry into funding for sexual violence services that I initiated with… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    5 days ago
  • Will funding boost for sexual violence services go to the right places?
    This week the Government announced $46million for sexual violence services. This announcement was a result of decades of work by advocates and everyone who submitted to the Select Committee inquiry into funding for sexual violence services that I initiated with… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    5 days ago
  • Denise Roche – What I’m looking for in this year’s Budget
    Two of the things I’ll be looking for in the Budget next week are more funding for refugees and for our arts and culture sector. More funding for refugees I’m a strong supporter of the #DoubleTheQuota campaign and its goals… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    5 days ago
  • Denise Roche – What I’m looking for in this year’s Budget
    Two of the things I’ll be looking for in the Budget next week are more funding for refugees and for our arts and culture sector. More funding for refugees I’m a strong supporter of the #DoubleTheQuota campaign and its goals… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    5 days ago
  • Car rego victims must get a refund
    Motorists who have been overcharged for their car registration should get a refund, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “Minister Nikki Kaye’s ‘faulty risk’ rating scheme has blown up in her face with over 170 different models of car having… ...
    5 days ago
  • Council statement shows they just don’t get it
    The Auckland Council’s statement today shows they don’t understand the problems created by the urban growth boundary, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “I have been the first to defend the Auckland City Council when Bill English has been blaming… ...
    5 days ago
  • Inspecting electronic devices a potential privacy threat
    Labour is expressing concern for New Zealanders’ privacy rights as the Government signals Customs will have the power to inspect electronic devices coming across the border, says Labour’s Customs Spokesperson Rino Tirikatene. “We agree that customs officers should have the… ...
    5 days ago
  • The Price of Water
    This week I hosted a public meeting at EIT in Hawkes Bay to discuss how we might put a price on the commercial use of water, so that water may be valued and treated more sustainably. I invited a… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    5 days ago
  • Caption It NZ!
    Today I received a petition from the NZ Captioning Working Group urging the government to legislate for accessibility via closed captioning for deaf and hard of hearing New Zealanders. It was timely because today is the fifth Global Accessibility Awareness… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    6 days ago
  • Older Kiwis to miss out on electives
    The Government is not doing enough elective surgery to keep up with New Zealand’s ageing population, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “It’s damning that the targeted national intervention rate for cataract and knee and hip surgery is the same… ...
    6 days ago
  • Most principals say their college is underfunded
    The Government must substantially increase funding for secondary schools in next week’s Budget after a new survey found 86 per cent of principals consider their college under-resourced, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Just 14 per cent of secondary principals… ...
    6 days ago
  • Bill English and Nick Smith on different pages
    The Government’s support for Labour’s policy to remove the Auckland urban growth boundary is good news, but National needs to clarify its position, Labour’s Housing and Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Acting Prime Minister has acknowledged our position… ...
    6 days ago
  • Bill English and Nick Smith on different pages
    The Government’s support for Labour’s policy to remove the Auckland urban growth boundary is good news, but National needs to clarify its position, Labour’s Housing and Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Acting Prime Minister has acknowledged our position… ...
    6 days ago
  • Labour calls for independent inquiry into illegal fish dumping
    The Labour Party is reiterating its call for an independent inquiry into New Zealand’s fishing industry after two reports revealed the Ministry for Primary Industries turned a blind eye to widespread fish dumping in New Zealand waters, says Labour’s Fisheries… ...
    6 days ago
  • Mt Karangahake and Newcrest Mining
    On Wednesday and Sunday of last week the local residents of the Karangahake mountain in the Karangahake gorge of Hauraki/Coromandel peacefully protested against a gold mining drill rig on private land adjacent to the DOC land. The drilling rig was… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    7 days ago
  • Robbing Aucklanders to pay Rio Tinto
    New Zealand’s national electricity grid stretches the length of the country and contains some 11,803 kilometres of high-voltage lines and 178 substations. It wouldn’t make sense for competing power companies to duplicate and build their own expensive electricity transmission system… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    7 days ago
  • Government should abolish Auckland urban growth boundary
    The Government should rule out any possibility of an urban growth boundary in Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan if it is serious about fixing the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Over 25 years the urban growth boundary hasn’t… ...
    7 days ago
  • Kiwis don’t want iPads for Land deals
     It is outrageous that schools are relying on money and iPads from foreign land investors to meet the learning needs of their students, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “Several OIO land applications by offshore investors have claimed that without… ...
    7 days ago
  • Homelessness – National has failed all of us
    A young South Auckland Māori woman recently tried to get hold of me around midnight. I missed her call. The woman wanted me to know the sharp reality facing too many families looking for a stable place to live. Things… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    1 week ago
  • Moko case should never have been manslaughter deal
    Confirmation again yesterday that the manslaughter charge in the Moko Rangitoheriri case was a deal done by the Crown Prosecution Service is justifiably the cause of outrage, says Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.“This should never have been a case where… ...
    1 week ago
  • Overseas investor funds school’s digital devices
    The Government must address the inequality laptops and tablets in classrooms are causing after a Queenstown school was forced to use a donation from an overseas investor to get their students digital devices, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. “Documents obtained… ...
    1 week ago
  • Child Youth and Family Review and Domestic Violence
    This Government has consistently failed to recognise the links between Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) and intimate partner violence. For me, the recent review of CYFS has highlighted this misunderstanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and its impacts… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 week ago
  • Child Youth and Family Review and Domestic Violence
    This Government has consistently failed to recognise the links between Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) and intimate partner violence. For me, the recent review of CYFS has highlighted this misunderstanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and its impacts… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 week ago
  • Canterbury rebuild: How wood is a better choice for the new city
    It was interesting to attend the ForestWood Conference in Auckland recently and learn about the extent of innovation in the wood processing and manufacturing sector. The forestry sector may be New Zealand’s third largest export earner, but raw logs make… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Canterbury rebuild: How wood is a better choice for the new city
    It was interesting to attend the ForestWood Conference in Auckland recently and learn about the extent of innovation in the wood processing and manufacturing sector. The forestry sector may be New Zealand’s third largest export earner, but raw logs make… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Key plucks $3b out of thin air – reckless and irresponsible
    John Key refuses to give up on his dream of tax cuts to the wealthy, despite being shot down by Bill English, and is resorting to plucking numbers out of thin air, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “On radio… ...
    1 week ago
  • John Key woefully out of touch on homelessness
    John Key is completely out of touch if he thinks desperate South Auckland families forced to live in cars can simply go to Work and Income for help, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Many of these families are working and… ...
    1 week ago
  • Under-reporting shows need to review quota system
    The Government must launch an independent review into New Zealand’s 30-year-old Quota Management System following a new report suggesting gross under-reporting of catch in the New Zealand fishing industry, Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker says.  “The Auckland University report found… ...
    1 week ago
  • Investigations into tertiary institutions overdue
    A Tertiary Education Commission investigation into the Tai Poutini Polytechnic is overdue and should have been launched last year, Labour’s Associate Education (Tertiary) spokesperson David Cunliffe says. “Labour has been calling for an inquiry into potential rorts at Tai Poutini… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Investigations into tertiary institutions overdue
    A Tertiary Education Commission investigation into the Tai Poutini Polytechnic is overdue and should have been launched last year, Labour’s Associate Education (Tertiary) spokesperson David Cunliffe says. “Labour has been calling for an inquiry into potential rorts at Tai Poutini… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where is the fair share for most New Zealanders?
    Most New Zealanders reading the news that chief executive pay has risen 12 per cent in the last year will be wondering when they are going to get their fair share, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “More and more… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where is the fair share for most New Zealanders?
    Most New Zealanders reading the news that chief executive pay has risen 12 per cent in the last year will be wondering when they are going to get their fair share, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “More and more… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Mega media merger is bad news
    Some people call newspapers “tomorrow’s fish and chips” but this week’s news around a mega media merger is not an issue we should discard. Media giants Fairfax and APN News & Media announced they were in discussions to merge their… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago
  • Mega media merger is bad news
    Some people call newspapers “tomorrow’s fish and chips” but this week’s news around a mega media merger is not an issue we should discard. Media giants Fairfax and APN News & Media announced they were in discussions to merge their… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago
  • National puts Easter trading in the too hard basket
    All Labour MPs will vote against National’s move to leave Easter trading laws up to councils, Labour’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain-Lees Galloway says.  “Despite this being a conscience vote, Labour MPs are united in their opposition to the Government’s moves… ...
    2 weeks ago

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