The Green Party has introduced a Member's Bill to Parliament today which, if passed, would see the government set up a publicly accessible register of people and companies that lobby the government.
The Lobbying Disclosure Bill was introduced by Greens MP Sue Kedgley, and comes weeks after the Green Party compiled a list of Ministers and their staff who attended events hosted by Westpac in the bank's corporate box at Wellington's Westpac Stadium.
The Bill, if passed, would set up a register of lobbyists and a code of conduct for lobbyists, Kedgley said. It was modelled on a successful Canadian public disclosure regime, she said.
“Lobbying is entrenched in our political system, but lobbyists are able to operate in secret and under the radar, in the shadows of the democratic process,” Kedgley said.
“The public has no way of knowing who is lobbying their politicians or what they are being lobbied about. There is also no information available on which lobbyists have special access to Parliament granted to them by the Speaker," she said.
“We believe the public has a right to know who is engaged in lobbying activities that seek to influence public policy. We want to get lobbying out of the shadows and ensure it takes place in as open a way as possible."
Many countries, such as Australia, Canada, and the US already had registers of lobbyists and the OECD had recommended that they be set up, Kedgley said.
The secrecy surrounding lobbying activities fueled the perception that government decisions were being unfairly influenced, undermining the public’s trust in the integrity of New Zealand's democracy.
"The ongoing growth of lobbyists’ influence has subtly shifted the political landscape in favour of corporate interests," Kedgley said.
Your view? Do we need to know more about who is lobbing our government Ministers, or is this just a pre-election Green Party attention grab?