SkyCity shows need to clamp down on lobbyists

Written By: - Date published: 11:11 am, June 14th, 2011 - 22 comments
Categories: business, capitalism - Tags: ,

“Substitute the words “convention centre” for “suitcase of cash” and the transaction looks very clear.”*

National wants to change the rules for another foreign corporate. Wouldn’t move an inch for Kiwirail jobs. Maybe because Kiwirail didn’t donate 100K to National (and Labour) like SkyCity did.

And what about the other bidders to build the convention centre? They didn’t get to submit costings before National did its dirty deal with SkyCity. Did they not employ expensive lobbyists? Did SkyCity? You would have to be suspicious about how SkyCity got National’s ear. We need transparency on lobbying.

Fortunately, the Greens have it sorted, reports I/S:

Last weekend, Dominion-Post columnist Tracy Watkins highlighted the lack of transparency around lobbying in this country, and called for change. We’re now seeing the first concrete steps towards that, with the Greens’ Sue Kedgley putting up a member’s bill to require public registration of lobbyists.

The bill is here [PDF]. It is heavily based on the Canadian Lobbying Act 1985 and defines “lobbying activity” as seeking to influence or arrange meetings with MPs, Ministers or ministerial staff, for payment and on behalf of another. It does not cover ordinary citizens seeking to influence their representatives, and it does not cover requests for information or publicly available submissions. Lobbyists must be registered, and will be subjected to a Code of Conduct. Failure to register will attract a $10,000 fine for an individual, or a $20,000 fine for a company.

The Bill would register lobbyists and create a public list of who they have lobbied on which issues and on whose behalf.

Sounds good. I don’t know about you but the fact that a mouth for hire like Mark Unsworth has his own swipe card to wander around Parliament and lobby who knows what on behalf of whom chills my blood. It’s clearly an usurpation of democracy.

22 comments on “SkyCity shows need to clamp down on lobbyists”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    This insidious model of corporatist Government must be put to an end.

    Where the rich and wealthy like SkyCity and Peter Jackson have 24/7 access to our leaders in Wellington and in their private homes.

    And where for a suitable dollar sum (and there is no way we can track where the dollars are being donated to what political cause) the laws of the land can be repealed or amended by ‘our representatives’ to make the affairs of private business more convenient and profitable for their major shareholders.

  2. RedLogix 2

    While lobbyists always have and will be a feature of political life, they do need moderating. The problem is that NACT govts like this one fundamentally run the the country as if it were a business.

    It’s the model of behaviour that they know and feel comfortable with. In that world wheeling and dealing is normal. Cutting deals and scatching backs is SOP. Accountability is something that only flows upwards from the minions to the executive, never the other way around.

    But it’s not good government, and it’s certainly not democracy.

    • rosy 2.1

      The problem is that NACT govts like this one fundamentally run the the country as if it were a business.

      Not just as a business, but for business when they should be running government for citizens.

  3. toad 3

    Fortunately, the Greens have it sorted…

    If only! It still needs the Bill to get drawn in a ballot, and then get the support of a majority of MPs. Remarkably, even Whaleoil (you’ll have to go looking – I couldn’t stomach linking there twice in one day) supports it, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it getting support from the Nats or Act.

  4. salamander 4

    Oh, Jeez .. the Australians did this about a generation ago .. no kidding

  5. freedom 5
    Am I overly paranoid or does it send the wrong message about the focus of a Lobby firm when they have a specific section of their website headers set aside for the Chinese.  Where is the Maori section, or a Japanese section, even a Pasifika section would have at least acknowledged the geography of our Nation’s place on this Globe. No just the Chinese thankyou, that will do nicely.

    • Irascible 5.1

      No. It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of the truth. Bill English, the bag carrier for the Key led National Party, has already been door knocking in China to drum up open cheque books when Key takes up his auctioneer’s hammer and starts selling off NZ to “Mum & Dad Big & Bigger Businesses ” investors in China.

  6. marsman 6

    Douglas Myers seemed to insist that the Business Round Table is not a Lobby Group, it would be great to finally see them publicly declared as such.

  7. NACTs don’t need lobbyists when they are major shareholders in NZ casino capitalism. Look what RWC has done with Rugby Inc now subsidised by workers whose wages and benefits are being savaged. SkyCity now defines downtown Auckland and therefore the new NZ. NACT and the banksters are rewriting our ‘National’ identity as cheap labour ‘entertainers’ of rich tourists and tax cheats. Read Lord Ashcroft. The NZ economy is defined by the parasite finance capitalists who bet on the currency, the intensity of the quakes and the weather. Lets face it we are a destination for parasites and destined to be serfs and servants. But not all is in their favour. Their bets don’t always pay off. Fundamentally NZ is a posterboy for disaster capitalism. Not a classic neo-colony, but one fallen from OECD grace, and rapidly turning into the Chinese Great South Islands. If not this year then next, when the Chinese working class stands up the earthquake in the South Islands will make a bigger impact on the NZX than any earthquake.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    I’ve always considered lobbyists and lobbying a sign of corruption. Wealthy people get their views heard by the politicians while everybody else is effectively kept silent due to not being able to afford the lobbyists. They don’t need a register – they need to be banned outright and a better method communicating between MPs and individuals (one that everybody can access and use) brought in.

  9. Chris 9

    Lets not forget some history here.
    The Labour Party, like any respectable capitalist party seeks – and gets – corporate funding. Big business spends hundreds of thousands of dollars backing Labour because it knows it can be relied upon serve its interests. In 1999 Labour won the elections and formed a coalition government with the Alliance. In recognition of Labour’s thoroughly capitalist credentials big business gave just as much to Labour as to National for electioneering. Labour’s total declared donations came to $1.1million while National’s were $1.2. The Act Party got $805,000. The Engineers Union gave $80,000 to Labour’s campaign, big dollars for a union, but this was just a tiny drop in the bucket for the Labour Party. At a time when unions were in dire straits that money could have been much better used on union campaigns and organising resistance to the attacks on workers’ rights. In 2002 the Labour Party surpassed National, raising $1.6 million in election donations, mostly from big business.
    The Labour Party in recent years has been the most well-funded party. Not content with big business donations, Labour also receives substantial funds from the public purse. In all, the extra-parliamentary Labour Party organisation appears to operate on a budget of about $2.5 million per year. Compared to this, the Parliamentary Service provides the parliamentary wing of Labour with $5 million in Party and MP Support alone. The Labour parliamentarians also receive about $12 million worth of Services to MPs, and Labour ministers currently receive nearly all of Ministerial Services’ staffing budget of over $15 million. These lucrative resources greatly overshadow the party organisation’s finances.

    [You got a weeks ban here. I’ll let this one through because it’s been replied to; but not any more….RL]

    • salamander 9.1

      So ?

    • Anthony 9.2


      How much do National get? how much $$$ in the Waitemata trust?

    • jabba 9.3

      well said Chis .. risky but well said.
      did Owen Glenn do any lobbying before being discarded like a dirty rag?

      • Colonial Viper 9.3.1

        Fucking hell Own Glen is small fry next to the National types who financed Brash’s coup of ACT

      • The Voice of Reason 9.3.2

        No. Glenn made his money in Europe. Any lobbying would be done there, where it would be of benefit. That’s if he does actually lobby, which I understand not to be his style.

    • Colonial Viper 9.4

      The Labour Party in recent years has been the most well-funded party.

      You’re talking about Tony Blair’s Labour Party you moron, not the NZLP.

  10. Jenny 10

    Lobbying undermines democracy. Faced by the continual pressure from well funded lobbyists, who enjoy special access denied to ordinary taxpayers, governments continually ignore the wishes of the vast majority of citizens, to the benefit of the wealthy minority.

    A case in point:

    The Huffington Post on the power of the lobbyists.

    ……public opinion polls consistently show that voters like seeing the minimum wage raised, said Celinda Lake, president of polling firm Lake Research Partners. “When we’ve done public polls, anywhere from 86 to 67 percent say they support an increase in the minimum wage,” Lake said at the CAP event. “A solid majority of voters believe that raising the minimum wage will help the economy.”

    The question must be asked, why if this policy is so popular with voters, are politicians so reluctant to raise the minimum, or even keep it steady to match inflation?

    The Huff gives part of the answer:

    …..And business interests in Maine have been lobbying for the creation of a “training wage” that would let companies pay teenagers less than the state minimum.

  11. ropata 11

    We have the best Government money can buy 🙁
    Muldoon was far more honest than the present bunch of self serving elitists.

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