Sunday, June 5, 2011
Who Has the Ear of the Government?
Tracy Watkins brings up a very valid concern regarding lobbyists and their secret influence on our Government. Corporate lobbyists in the US became a multimillion dollar industry and their influence, combined with the concern around the ethical nature of their activity, resulted in greater transparency being called for. Consequently all lobbyists in the US must now declare who they represent and are listed on a register. This transparency does not occur in New Zealand.
Russel Norman and the Green Party have advocated for greater public clarity around who our lobbyists are, whose interests they promote and probably even more importantly the access they have to the Government. This issue is becoming increasingly important under a National led government because of the nature of the decision making process being used currently.
Good legislation should be developed out of wide consultation, representing key stake holders, having all points of view recorded and have transparency around the how those views are evaluated. Select committees were supposed to provide a forum for allowing different views and positions to be expressed and allow scrutiny around the detail of any proposed legislation.
National has used urgency to progress all manner of laws and regulation, bypassing select committees and seemingly ignoring publicly accessible advice, position papers and research (often hiding behind commercial sensitivity or national security).
This issue needs scrutiny and debate if New Zealand voters are going understand how "democracy" operates in a multitude of undemocratic ways post election and to ensure future legislation is shaped to ensure transparency, fairness and sustainability.
(Addendum: Sue Kedgley's just released Lobbying Disclosure Bill will go a long way to addressing the issues I have described above.)