Big corporate donors are using the revolving door to gain access to government, according to new research by the Centre for Public Integrity.
The research finds that many lobbyists working for big corporate donors are doing so within the first year of leaving government, due to weaknesses in the lobbying code of conduct.
Analysing the AEC donations disclosures and the Commonwealth lobbyist register, the findings include:
- Raytheon Technologies has donated over $825,000 dollars to the major parties since 1998-99, with just over $100,000 of that going to the Labor Party, and engaged CMAX Communications who employ former Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon and former adviser Jarryd Williamson as lobbyists.
- Former Liberal MP Fiona Scott registered as a lobbyist two years after losing her seat in 2016, and now lobbies for Premier National on behalf of the Australian Hotels Association and Hemmes Trading: the former has donated $8.7 million since 1998-99 to the Coalition, and the latter $350,000.
- Brendan Tegg, who was Director of Policy in Scott Morrison’s office until 2019, started lobbying for TG Public Affairs a year later. TG Public Affairs current clients include construction and development giants Multiplex and Lendlease: Multiplex has provided $1,220,438 to the Coalition since 1998-99, and Lendlease $697,461.
The research calls for an end to the revolving door through strengthened post-separation employment provisions and the publication of Ministerial diaries.
“Big corporations are exploiting our weak integrity laws to gain access and influence government,” said the Hon Anthony Whealy KC, the Chair of the Centre for Public Integrity.
“They are making big donations and employing former Ministers and advisers as lobbyists. This can mean their corporate interests are given more weight than the public interest in political decision-making,” said Mr Whealy.
“It remains the case that a casual visitor to Parliament House is entitled to think they have entered a den of thieves, so thick is the cohort of eager lobbyists. It’s a dismal and disheartening experience,” said Mr Whealy.
“Laissez-faire regulation of lobbying produces a trinity of vices: secrecy, corruption and unfairness,” said Professor Joo Cheong Tham, a board member of the Centre for Public Integrity.
“Democratic integrity requires integrity in lobbying regulation. Post-separation employment restrictions should be lengthened to 5 years, include MPs, and cover all lobbying, not just in regards to “official dealings”.
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