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Sunday, May 15, 2011

NSW upper house votes to put lobbying ex-ministers in the cooler

The Lobbying of Government Officials Bill was amended in the NSW Legislative Council last week on the motion of The Greens to add a cooling-off period for ex-Ministers and ex-Parliamentary Secretaries to preclude them from lobbying for 18 months on a matter dealt with in the previous 18 months before ceasing to hold office- one of many recommendations in an ICAC report on lobbying last year that the Government has been silent on so far. It now faces an early test of the commitment to improving integrity in government as the amended bill is now back to the Legislative Assembly where the government alone will determine its fate. (Update: the bill as amended passed.) No one in debate mentioned other issues such as extending the success fee ban to the local government sector, or other ICAC recommendations for tougher regulation including more transparency-pity.

An ALP amendment to increase a fine for breach of the success fee provisions from $55,000 for a corporation and $22,000 for an individual to $550,000 and $220,000 was decided against by the casting vote of the President after a tied vote 19 all. Another Greens amendment to prohibit a member of a political party executive from lobbying was lost 19-21.

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