This week on the lobbying bill

The Lobbying Disclosure Bill has been in the media again this week as submissions continued at select committee. One of the recurring questions raised by submitters was why New Zealand needs a disclosure regime, given that we already have a relatively transparent system.

While this may be true in comparison to places like the UK and US who have been caught up in high-profile lobbying scandals, it doesn’t mean that we’re without controversy in New Zealand. It’s also vital that we take the opportunity to create best practice while we can – to proactively protect the honest, open system that we have, while continuing to ensure the accessibility of our MPs.

This week in politics has shown the usefulness of a lobbying disclosure regime in New Zealand. Today’s cartoon in the Dominion Post about the Alcohol Reform Bill is a good example of the questions that are raised because of lack of transparency. This bill is currently being debated in the House and there have been strong suggestions that the Government has been unduly about the influenced by the alcohol industry, by putting their concerns ahead of the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

There was also an exchange in the House yesterday between the Government and the Labour Party about the paid parental leave bill, questioning the political influence of National on Business NZ. A lobbying disclosure regime would shed light on this kind of interaction and reduce the political point scoring that inevitably happens when there are questions left unanswered about who is influencing who.

12 thoughts on “This week on the lobbying bill

  1. “questioning the political influence of National on Business NZ”

    I thought your bill was for people talking to the government. Are you now saying it will apply when the government is doing the “lobbying”? What? Will it apply to you when you are in goverment and talking to Greenpeace or Forest and Bird.

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  2. just so I don’t get off track here, can you tell me the definition of “lobbying” that is included in the bill?

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  3. Listening to the debate around the Alcohol reform bill, it seems that ‘the industry’ is having huge influence on parliaments decisions on the matter, whether through lobbying or otherwise ?
    It was interesting to hear at least one MP say that it was alcohol that was by far the greatest harm to society & yet any talk of prohibition was off the agenda & strict regulation was the ‘order of the day’.. then in the next sentence he alluded to the fact that prohibition was the order of the day, when it comes to controlling ‘other drugs’ (double-standard)It seem obvious that ‘the industry’ is having great influence on ‘the powers that be’ !

    Good onya Holly for bringing this bill to the table..

    Kia-ora

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  4. THanks BJ

    Seems the bill has everything, including the kitchen sink, wrapped up. I guess if I’m at a local event and happen to run into my local MP (easily done as he’s happy to attend the opening of an envelope,) I’d better have a reporting form in my pocket or run for the hills.

    Sorry, but having read the Bill, it strikes me as another piece of legislation that is destined to either be ignored or result in a new government department.

    As I’ve said before, Government should be o Laws, not Men.

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  5. Uh – no Dave, unless someone is paying you to influence your MP….

    …and no One-Track, only if they are acting in their official capacity, which (if they are taking money for supporting a particular position) entails a more serious offence already… no?

    …and One-Track, unlike a lot of people who are actually IN government right now, Greens take their responsibilities seriously and I assure you that Holly will have read the bill.

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  6. One other thing Dave. Despite the idealism of your philosophy, governments are always of men and women, who obey and interpret and work with the laws they have, not the laws themselves.

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  7. BJ
    I think you’re mistaking my use of the word “government” which, in my case, is a verb, not a noun :-)

    I still worry about the fact that, as I am paid by the government (pension) anythinng I say CAN be taken as lobbying. But of course, that sort of language interpretation would NEVER happen in NZ! (yeah right?)

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  8. Thanks for the questions and sorry for any confusion.
    A lobbying disclosure regime would shed light on the interactions between organisations like Business NZ and MPs from any party. Business NZ would be required to declare, in this case, that they talked to National MPs about the Paid Parental Leave Bill. That leaves journalists/the public/opposition MPs free to question Government on the nature of those interactions.

    It would work exactly the same way for interactions between Labour and unions over the same bill. The end result is a clearer picture of who is influencing MPs, about what.

    The definitions in the bill as drafted are too wide, which we have publicly acknowledged. This was done originally to ensure that it didn’t allow the easy avoidance of coverage under the bill, but now is the time for the committee to work through the details to ensure a robust and appropriate definition of lobbying and lobbyist for the NZ political context.

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  9. Who cares who MPs talk to? No doubt the Green MPs spent a lot of time talking to the likes of Greenpeace. Big so what?

    Are you suggesting MPs are so mindless that they will do the bidding of third parties, unless reporters report their conversations to the public? Does that include Green MPs? Green MPs cannot be trusted?

    MPs still must get policy through. If people don’t like it, they won’t vote for it.

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  10. I for one am concerned that Aotearoa/NZ parliament seems to be supporting business & the wealthiest in society first & the rest get to fight over ‘the scraps’. Is NZ following the USA, where it appears ‘money talks’ & the poor just get poorer.
    MORE TRANSPARENCY.. “YES” !!
    Good onya Holly

    Kia-ora

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