29 November 2010
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has recommended a new lobbying regulatory scheme for NSW that would require “greater transparency” of lobbying activity through:
- new legal requirements for lobbyists to be registered; and
- for the occurrence of meetings and other communications between lobbyists and government representatives to be recorded and made publicly available.
The ICAC also recommended that the NSW Government amends the definition of “open access information” in the Government Information (Public Access) Act to include records of lobbying activities “for which there is no overriding public interest against disclosure”.
New lobbying rules wont just cover consultant lobbyists, but will extend to so-called lobbying entities, i.e. organisations that engage in a lobbying activity on their own behalf. This would include property developers. This means that if the proposals are implemented property developers will be required to register before they can lobby any government representative and that they must disclose on the register the month and year in which they engaged in the lobbying activity, the identity of the government department, agency or minister lobbied, and the name of any senior government representative lobbied.
Lobbying at local government level would not be subject to the same regulatory regime as lobbying at the NSW State Government level In relation to local government lobbying, the ICAC recommended include that:
- thee NSW Government amends the Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils to regulate contact between council staff and applicants for development proposals (including those acting for applicants);
- the NSW Government amends procedures for the making of applications to councils that require approval or determination to include provision for a declaration by applicants of affiliation with any council officers;
- sanctions should apply to applicants who submit a false declaration.
The Urban Taskforce participated strongly in the ICAC inquiry that led to these recommendations. While some of our arguments against even greater regulation have been accepted (not all of the original proposals have been included in the final set of recommendations) the ICAC has still sought a very significant increase in red tape. Its likely that the NSW Government will not formally respond to these recommendations until after the March 2011 state election. We will remain engaged in this process.
More information is available here.