The Centre for Public Integrity, in a recent study, highlighted how the Australian federal lobbying practices and regulations have been subverted, resulting in secrecy, corruption, and unfair access and influence. The past few decades have seen the Australian government’s climate change policy heavily influenced by fossil fuel lobbyists, an epitome of the OECD’s “policy capture.”
Despite the presence of the Australian Government Lobbyists Register, the lack of full disclosure around lobbying activities has created an environment ripe for corruption, particularly when lobbyists have made political contributions to parties in power.
Further exacerbating the risk is the trend of former ministers and senior public servants transitioning into private sector roles, a practice known as “post-separation employment.” This has led to potential conflicts of interest, as officials may modify their conduct to favor prospective employers.
The Centre for Public Integrity proposed five recommendations to strengthen federal lobbying regulation, including legislating a lobbying code of conduct, expanding the definition of “lobbying” and “lobbyist,” promoting transparency, implementing a robust regulatory regime, and extending the post-employment separation period to five years.
Without such regulations, the integrity and transparency of Australian democracy remain in jeopardy.
The full article by the Centre for Public Integrity Research Director Dr Catherine Williams and board member Professor Joo-Cheong Tham can be read here.