Let the sun shine in- a policy window opens

Sandpiper 9 September 2010

I noticed that comments are now open to the discussion paper put forward by Senator Joe Ludwig on reform to the register for lobbyists.

According to Julian Fitzgerald, parliamentary press gallery journalist (2007):

Over the past twenty years lobbying in Australia has grown from a small industry of a few hundred employees to a multi billion dollar a year industry. According to Lobbying in Australia there are more than 1,000 lobbyists in Canberra. Over $1 billion is spent lobbying the Federal and State governments in what has become an industry in its own right. Of the 150 lobby groups analysed in Lobbying in Australia, they had more than 260 public relations officers, 2431 staff and a budget of over $713 million.

There has only been an official register of lobbyists to the parliament for a couple of years and at the moment this register is confined to third party lobbyists (people employed by others to represent their interests). So the register does not include information about who they contact in parliament or the nature of their discussions. ANU’s John Warhust has something to say about this in his interview with the ABC (audio file).

Two dates are given in different government sites for deadlines to the submissions (the 20th and 30th of September) and the discussion paper itself is linked into the foot of this page.

As the recent hung parliament appears to have given rise to a potential policy window on improving the integrity of professional lobbying and it’s implications for democratic representation, it might be a good opportunity to take up Joe Ludwigs invitation for public comment and let the sun shine in.

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