Tasmania is to join the crowd with a Lobbyists Register to regulate lobbyist contact with the Government from 1 September, as announced by Deputy Premier and Attorney General Lara Giddings. The Code of Conduct is similar to the Federal and other state schemes up and running: hired guns need to register with some exceptions; an on-line publicly available register of lobbyists and clients; ministers and public servants are not to meet unregistered lobbyists; and a failure by lobbyists to act in accordance with the code of conduct could result in loss of access altogether. It comes with all the limitations and weaknesses noted here previously, some of which are raised today in The Australian by two prominent ALP connected lobbyists who call for the exceptions to be brought into the scheme.
There are a couple of notable Tasmanian differences: it applies in addition to communication with ministers, parliamentary secretaries, and public servants to communication with a Member of Parliament of the political party (or parties) that constitute the Executive Government of the day, (a positive first, I think). And imposes a 12 month post separation ban on lobbying by a minister, parliamentary secretary or head of agency on a matter they had dealings with in the previous 12 months. This is on the weak side - the Federal Code ban on ministers post separation is 18 months for lobbying on any matter dealt with in the previous 18 months. The Tasmanian Code fails to mention any post separation ban on lobbying by ministerial staff, or the hot issues elsewhere, pay to meet the minister fund-raisers, and in Queensland at least, success fees for lobbyists.(Update: nor mention of another hottie running in The Australian today- banning lobbyists from accepting paid government positions)
Here is Bob Burton's take on the scheme in Crikey.
As The Mercury reports today:
"Hobart public relations man Michael Lester said the new Lobbying Code of Conduct would not change the way he did business. Mr Lester, a former journalist, manages the Tasmanian office of the national corporate communications firm CPR."