Political lobbying

I just realised when putting this post together – I guess I’m a political lobbyist, so could be directly affected by this.

There is a Green bill (Holly Walker) in the system to try and make political lobying more transparent. An ODT editorial comments:

Lobbying for transparency

While much remains unclear and unresolved in the John Banks-Kim Dotcom donation saga, it has again focused attention on questions of political influence at both national and local levels. Who or what sways the efforts supposedly made on the taxpayer’s behalf by our politicians?

So many questions, so few answers.

It is drawing a long bow to equate political lobbying with proto-corruption. The lobbyist’s art is a time-honoured one. It is perfectly appropriate for lobby groups – be they community, environment or business-oriented – to draw matters that concern them to the attention of politicians.

This is democracy at work.

Yes, many people try to lobby our MPs. I’m an active lobbyist – I’ve had six email replies from MPs in the last week, and I’ve also had twitter replies.

But a private member’s Bill being put forward by the Green Party’s Holly Walker draws attention to the fact that little is known about lobbyists’ activities in New Zealand politics, and this does nothing to enhance transparent democracy nor confidence in its processes.

Ms Walker’s proposed Lobbying Disclosure Bill is modelled on Canadian legislation, which supports a lobbying commissioner, an online registry of lobbyists, a lobbyists’ code of conduct and a requirement for the regular collation and review of lobbying statistics. Australia and the United States have similar systems and Britain is thinking of introducing a public disclosure regime.

What’s the chances of an opposition party bill progressing? For this one the chances look promising:

…support for the Bill in one form or another comes from across the political spectrum. Prime Minister John Key has indicated National thought it was “worth looking at” because New Zealand was one of the few like-minded countries that did not have such a regime.

Good, I hope parliament has a decent look at this. There are some difficult aspects to the bill, it may be hard to find the right balance between insisting on transparency and being too difficult to administer and monitor.  But this should be able to be worked through.

Lobbying Disclosure Bill 2012 (Member’s Bill)

– New Zealand Parliament Bills Digest

I was going to reproduce the bill details here to save having to go to another link but it appears I’m not allowed to do that.

Except for educational purposes permitted under the Copyright Act 1994, no part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, other than by Members of Parliament in the course of their official duties, without the consent of the Parliamentary Librarian, Parliament Buildings, Wellington, New Zealand.

There’s also extensive details on the Green Party website:

Lobbying Disclosure Bill