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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lobbying 101 in Australia: a word please, privately of course

Sharona Coutts at the Global Mail (Rinehart's reach) illustrates what is wrong with our  approach to money and clout being used in the exercise of influence on government decision making- the lack of transparency about who is doing what, to whom, and why.

Registration of third party lobbyists and the requirement for parliamentarians to register interests are laughably light touch. 

Coutts found ministers and parliamentarians who enjoy Rinehart's largesse (not the only one in the game) made the point they are under no obligation to do anything more than comply with the limited legal obligation to declare (trips to India and around the country for instance) but as to who they meet and what they say, that's "private."
It's hard to describe how backwards Australia is in this respect. In the United States, lobbyists are required to lodge regular reports saying who they work for, with whom they've met, what they discussed, and how much they were paid. And all that information is freely available online....
Public officials who meet with these players have a moral duty to disclose the details of all those meetings, so the public can see the links between lobbying and decisions that are made. That duty should also be enshrined in state and federal laws, as it is in countries around the world that have shown they're serious about holding public officials accountable.
Read Who's lobbying in the UK for example, but don't expect to find anything there about the local scene.

In March when Federal parliamentarians took a look, they concluded our current system is just fine.

Now where's that ticket for the Rinehart express, and my Fairfax paper?

LOL.

I spoke to Coutts, and on a similar theme, to The Wire on 2SER.

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