I saw somewhere that Queensland Labor had committed to this in 1998?
Premier Bligh went further than most by also announcing a two year "cooling off" period for any former minister (18 months for parliamentary secretaries, ministerial staff and senior public servants) in respect of lobbying on matters dealt with in their last two years in office. (But no retrospectivity that will impact on the burgeoning lobbying industry in Brisbane peopled by former ministers in the Beattie Government and escapees from Canberra.)
Plus the introduction of a new offence of misconduct in public office into the Criminal Code and intention to clarify the conflict of interest provisions in the Public Service Act. And she is seeking advice about how the government might restrict success fees in contracts for government work, after media reports that two former ministers received success fees of $500,000 following a client's success in winning the Airport Link contract. All this flows from recommendations in a December report from the Crime and Misconduct Commission.
The details of the Queensland register are still to come. However the emerging Australian standard registration requirement is weak given the exclusions, particularly for in-house lobbying by employees whose job is to seek to exercise influence on behalf of their employer, and the failure so far to require much else such as reporting on contact with government or issues currently the subject of lobbying, and a complete ban on gifts of all kinds and political donations.
Canada goes further than any of us here but this report about free food and drink gatherings for members of parliament and public servants in Ottawa that may be just within the law illustrates the magnitude of the task.
For those of you really into this:
Premier Bligh Ministerial Statement Legislative Assembly 12 February 2009
"I have made very clear my commitment to open and transparent government. One of my first acts as Premier was to commission an independent panel led by Dr David Solomon to review Queensland’s freedom of information laws, and I released the draft legislation at the end of last year for consultation.
Today I am pleased to announce another move toward greater accountability and transparency. This government will introduce a Queensland Contact with Lobbyists Code to deliver greater accountability standards for former ministers, parliamentary secretaries, ministerial staff and senior public servants. This code will adopt the highest standard of accountability and transparency. We are adopting all of the CMC recommendations from its report to strengthen the legislative framework governing ethical standards in Queensland.
Under the new code, a two-year ban will be put in place to prohibit former ministers from lobbying government on any matter they have dealt with in their last two years of tenure. Parliamentary secretaries will be banned for 18 months from lobbying government on any matter that they dealt with in their last two years of tenure. An 18-month ban will also prohibit former ministerial staff and senior public servants from lobbying government on any matter in which they had official dealings during their last 18 months of tenure. This goes above and beyond the standard applied by the Commonwealth government in relation to post-separation employment.
In addition, all lobbyists seeking to conduct lobbying activities with a Queensland government representative will be required to register their details on a lobbyist register maintained by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. I reiterate today what I told the House yesterday, and that is that the government is of the view that some of the reported success fees paid by private firms to lobbyists are much too high and unnecessary. I have, therefore, sought advice about how the government might restrict success fees in contracts for government work, and I will report to the House when I have that advice.
My government will also introduce a new offence of misconduct in public office into the Criminal Code and clarify the conflict of interest provisions within the Public Service Act 2008 in line with the recommendations of the CMC. This is about making it crystal clear that any person in public office has a duty to serve the public interest over any private interest. We will deliver a means to prosecute any former public officials who have abused their office. The people of Queensland rightly expect this to be the case, and I am committed to delivering a stringent set of ethical standards to ensure that this occurs."