Thursday, April 25, 2024

PM reveals steps to improve lobbying transparency

Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, has announced four new steps to introduce greater transparency around lobbying at Parliament, with the first to see lobbyists stripped of their swipe-card access to Parliament.

“I said two weeks ago when lobbying came up for the first time in a while that I would go away and look at the rules around it and whether they needed strengthening. I’ve done that,” the Prime Minister said today.

“It’s very important we have a sensible and transparent system that does not give the impression that lobbyists enjoy an unfair advantage over other New Zealanders.”

The Prime Minister set out four changes aimed at building greater transparency and balance around lobbying.   

“First, I’ve commissioned a major piece of work that will look at policy options for regulating lobbying activities. To do it well, will require considerable work and consultation and I anticipate the advice coming back in 2024.”

“This was last looked at in 2012 and ultimately didn’t land because it was too broad in scope. I want Parliament to take another look, learning the lessons from that process.

“While this work is underway, there are three measures we can take now and start to get in place straight away.”

As the first step in the PM’s plans, swipe-card access to Parliament will be removed for lobbyists.

Currently, some lobbyists as well as business and union representatives have swipe-card access to the building.

“My view is they should go through the front door like every other New Zealander,” said Mr Hipkins.

“Access to Parliament is controlled by the Speaker, but I’ve written to him today to express the Government’s view this access should be removed.

“I want, as much as possible, for this to be a bi-partisan issue and I call on other political parties to support this measure.  

“Second, I am calling on third-party lobbyists to develop a voluntary code of conduct that would enhance transparency by, for example, including the names of the clients they represent on their websites.”

Others involved in lobbying, for instance peak bodies, industry associations and other entities may also wish to sign up for this as well, Mr Hipkins said.

He said the Government will offer assistance from the Ministry of Justice to help draft the code and to provide research on overseas practises and guidance.

“Thirdly, a refreshed Cabinet Manual that is being published this month makes it clear that, while in office, Ministers’ conduct and decisions should not be influenced by the prospect or expectation of future employment with a particular organisation or sector.”

Latest Articles