Chauvel on the union exemption from lobbying transparency

July 31st, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

His amendment would exempt unions and labour organisations, as well as groups such as charities, non-governmental organisations, community groups, churches and sports bodies.

Five trade unions are affiliated to the Labour Party and donate to it, but Mr Chauvel said he had put in the amendment off his own bat. He said the unions were relaxed about the bill, but he believed they were in a similar position to philanthropic, voluntary organisations which were not-for-profit.

“When trade unions came up, it seemed to me that they fell on the not- quite-so-sinister-and-behind-the-scenes side of things.”

He said corporate lobbying had the power to change policy, and was often done on the quiet.

What an incredible argument. Is he saying unions do not have the power to change policy? The CTU has actually written policy adopted by Labour. The unions have huge influence on parliamentary policy.

Ministers are obliged under the OIA to disclose any meetings, if asked. Opposition MPs are not, so any lobbying done on the quiet is of opposition MPs, but of Ministers.

“There is a big public interest in knowing what corporates are doing because they can afford heft lobbying and hospitality, and research and all the rest,” Mr Chauvel said.

I blogged on this some years ago, but be assured that the unions have far greater funds and assets than the business groups such as Business NZ and the Chambers of Commerce.

And is Charles arguing that it is a bad thing for research to be provided to MPs?

Ms Walker said changes were needed to ensure the bill did not cover everyone who spoke to an MP. However, she believed trade unions should be covered by the bill despite Labour’s stance.

Good. The current definition is problematic, and the solutions are not obvious. But one thing I can tell you is that an argument for unions to be exempt is a self-serving one that flies in the face of any claims to actually want transparency.

UPDATE: The Waikato Times editorial is excellent:

Labour’s says the bill can be made more workable by exempting the community and voluntary sector from a major burden. He has the gall to include trade unions in that group. This attempt to confine the bill’s scope to commercial organisations, as one commentator observed, would introduce “loopholes you could drive a busload of through” while undermining the bill’s objectives.

Wanting to flush National’s business mates into the open but allow Labour’s union mates to continue lobbying covertly is shamefully unprincipled. More perplexing, it would expose a well-intentioned bill to a partisan buffeting that would threaten to sink it.

It is shamefully unprincipled indeed.

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50 Responses to “Chauvel on the union exemption from lobbying transparency”

  1. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    The delicate Charlie Chauvel has lost the plot.

    Too much of the finest chardonnay and caviar from the Wellington cocktail party circuit have ruined the mind (and rotund body) of the socialist parasite from Oriental Parade.

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  2. Rightandleft (652 comments) says:

    Well that’s ridiculous. Unions are just as capable of lobbying behind closed doors as business interests are. I’m a unionist myself and I think this Labour amendment should be thrown out.

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  3. davidp (3,551 comments) says:

    We all know that unions, NGOs, business groups, and community groups lobby government and do so pretty much constantly. So what does this bill achieve? I predict that this will be just like the electoral finance laws… achieving nothing of any great effect, but will be used frequently to score points. Currently, if you forget an authoriser’s home address on an election balloon?… refer to the police. In the future, if an MP runs in to an old friend in a bar, stays for a drink, and asks how business is doing?… possible lobby law violation, refer to the police. Citizen visits MP’s office to discuss personal problems, but is also on a sports committee and asks about funding for sports?… refer to the police. Union leader in a crowd shouts at John Key through a loud hailer?… refer to the police. The police, sensibly, will do nothing. But Labour and the Greens will condemn every National MP referred to the police, while ignoring their own violations. Which will be frequent.

    Waste of time!

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  4. UpandComer (517 comments) says:

    I hope they keep trying to defend the indefensible. NGO’s and Unions are actually two of the biggest lobby groups in NZ. They dwarf corporates. Keep defending the indefensible Labour.

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  5. nasska (10,841 comments) says:

    In one ill thought out amendment dear old Charlie must have just about taken care of any corporate financial supporters Labour may have left.

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  6. grumpy (249 comments) says:

    “shamefully unprincipled” – Labour????

    Who would have thought????

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  7. Komata (1,139 comments) says:

    Comrades, we must have transparency; the PSA and CTU Presidents tell me so (BTW, they’re lurking in the shadows over there – pretend you can’t see them, ‘cos I am), and Helen confirms that this MUST be the case (except when she says not to, and she knows, she’s oh soooo very wise. . .). Presumably Owen Glenn and the Chinese ‘benefactors’ have been canvassed for their thoughts? One wonders.

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  8. PaulL (5,969 comments) says:

    Good to hear that not-for-profit organisations are automatically whiter than the driven snow. Obviously that includes unions, but I think also includes churches, business associations, and any special purpose vehicles set up purely for lobbying purposes.

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  9. scrubone (3,074 comments) says:

    It seems that sinister is in the eye of the beholder.

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  10. david (2,548 comments) says:

    A more workable ammendment would be to prohibit anyone who ever qualified with a law degree from lobbying. One would expect the lives of MPs and Ministers in particular to be much more pleasant.

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  11. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    Couldn’t agree more with Chauvel.

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  12. DRHILL (121 comments) says:

    Take that logic, Greenpeace would be considered a charity. You know, for all the charity work they do.

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  13. RRM (9,606 comments) says:

    Mr Chauvel… said the unions were relaxed about the bill, but he believed they were in a similar position to philanthropic, voluntary organisations which were not-for-profit.

    “When trade unions came up, it seemed to me that they fell on the not- quite-so-sinister-and-behind-the-scenes side of things.”

    Comedy gold!

    But seriously, Charles…

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  14. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    Comedy? Unions are voluntary and not-for-profit.

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  15. Reid (16,074 comments) says:

    Comedy? Unions are voluntary and not-for-profit.

    Fraid they cross the line the minute they support a political party Hamnida. At that point they become sinister, partisan creatures who must be exterminated with extreme prejudice. Honestly you lefties are completely mental. Fancy hallucinating a freaking union is anything at all like a philanthropic operation. I mean what loopy insane planet do you people live on, because it’s sure not the same one I live on.

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  16. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    Well I don’t live on Planet Neolib.

    I think you missed my point – Unions are voluntary and not-for-profit.

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  17. RRM (9,606 comments) says:

    Unions are voluntary

    :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

    And not-for-profit

    :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

    You have much to learn, young Skywalker…

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  18. Than (439 comments) says:

    Why does the profit motive matter?

    Any well-funded organisation should be covered. NGOs and Unions are just like paid lobbyists, seeking to use money to influence the political process. If anything paid lobbyists are the less efficient influencers – some of the input money is siphoned off as their profit.

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  19. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    I don’t see the funny side of this one.

    1. Unions are voluntary
    2. They are not-for-profit

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  20. nasska (10,841 comments) says:

    RRM

    You’ve used enough smilies to keep Johnboy going for a month in one hit! :)

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  21. Northland Wahine (655 comments) says:

    Oh good grief, are you serious?!

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  22. big bruv (13,526 comments) says:

    Haminda

    In your socialist utopia, would it be compulsory to belong to a union?

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  23. Colville (2,154 comments) says:

    Profit is irrelevant, Unions want power to harness us all as mindless slaves to work for a lowest common denonimator wage , Greenpeace wants control of plants, land and people (and our taxes!).
    If anything having Philip Morris or COKE trying to bend the ear of an MP at least we know what they are after. Its just money :-)

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  24. Colville (2,154 comments) says:

    that Auckland wharf shitfight, I seem to remember that the Union wasnt to keen on being voluntary?

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  25. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    Clarkism is alive and well.

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  26. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    big burv – yes.

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  27. Elaycee (4,322 comments) says:

    Hamfisted: “I don’t see the funny side of this one.”

    I’m not surprised…. comprehension is clearly not your strong point. In order to understand:

    (a) You’d need an IQ north of single digits.
    (b) You’d need to find a cure for your myopia.
    (c) You’d need to slip off your leftard eyepatches.

    But if you still struggle to understand,

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  28. Elaycee (4,322 comments) says:

    Should have finished:

    “But if you still struggle to understand,”….. I’ll happily help – but after you have paid for the nice bridge I have for sale.

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  29. Pete George (23,168 comments) says:

    Holly Walker has posted again on this.

    …Labour tabled an amendment that, amongst other things, calls for trade unions and not-for-profit groups to be exempted from any lobbying disclosure regime.

    There are two reasons why I haven’t come out in support of this amendment, both of which I made clear in my speeches at the first reading of the bill.

    Firstly, I think it’s too soon to think about specific amendments to the bill. It is clear that there are certain areas that may require amendment, including some of the concerns raised by NGOs and smaller organisations. However, I don’t want to prejudice the outcome of the discussions at select committee and for that reason I don’t believe it’s helpful to propose such specific amendments at this early stage.

    Secondly, there are some aspects of the bill that I believe must remain intact. It’s important that the bill is fair and it must continue to apply across the board. It is central to the purpose of the bill that we get true transparency, which means we need to be able to see the range of organisations that have been communicating with MPs and Ministers in an attempt to influence public policy. Anything less would not give a clear picture of influence.

    http://blog.greens.org.nz/2012/07/31/the-latest-on-the-lobbying-bill/

    Important principles. Stick with them.

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  30. Nookin (3,162 comments) says:

    From the CTU site
    The NZCTU will:

    1.recognise Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding document of Aotearoa/New Zealand
    2.uphold the principles of democracy, including the democratic means of changing Governments;
    3.champion the cause of peace and human freedom;
    4.oppose and combat totalitarianism and aggression in any form. It pledges solidarity and support to all working people deprived of their rights as workers and human beings by oppressive regimes.
    The NZCTU declares that all workers should enjoy equal rights and opportunity at the workplace, within Trade Unions, and in society at large.

    If CTU is non-political, what does “2″ mean?

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  31. big bruv (13,526 comments) says:

    Hamnida

    Why would you take away choice from the workforce?

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  32. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    big burv – apologies, my mistake. I read the question incorrectly – No, it would not be compulsory to belong to a union. All organisations would be voluntary.

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  33. KH (692 comments) says:

    The worries about the unions are valid. But also be concerned about the so called ‘charities’ who dominate much of our service industries. Inefficient, and surviving by marketing, lobbying and conning the public. Pokie Trusts are just the tip of the iceberg. Have a hard look at the Salvation Army accounts and you will see the issue. We need to sort these guys out. Some are the countries biggest. Keep them out of parliament is the first step. Shutting most of them down would be a good move.

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  34. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    If I was in charge, pokies would be gone by lunchtime.

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  35. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    It appears obvious to me..

    He can not think ” straight “..

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  36. Steve (North Shore) (4,517 comments) says:

    Chlamydia will go away when treated won’t you? Just a Liarbour festering sore

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  37. scrubone (3,074 comments) says:

    Fraid they cross the line the minute they support a political party Hamnida. At that point they become sinister, partisan creatures who must be exterminated with extreme prejudice.

    That doesn’t mean they’re not for profit. It just means they aren’t charities.

    Of course, they *are* supposed to be there for the profit of their members.

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  38. hj (6,618 comments) says:

    lobbying should be done on line where we can all look over the shoulder. there isn’t any need for a debating chamber.

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  39. scrubone (3,074 comments) says:

    Have a hard look at the Salvation Army accounts and you will see the issue.

    You have something against the Salvation Army. Riiiight…..

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  40. UpandComer (517 comments) says:

    What’s even more galling is that Labour likes to promote and protect groups that are taxpayer funded, to lobby the government! These are all the ‘health’ peddling rorts that are paid taxpayers money to lobby the govt on how to spend more taxpayers money. It’s a total sham. Commerical lobbyists are a fraction of the bogus union, taxpayer funded ‘not for profits’, charities, and NGO’s. Chauvel needs to think a little more straight about this.

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  41. Jim (405 comments) says:

    Voluntary and not-for-profit are completely irrelevant to lobbying transparency. You don’t have to look far to find corporations lobbying via such groups elsewhere (where the corporations wish to distance themselves from the lobbying).

    And unions… if I was a union member then I would like to see the transparency apply to the organisation that I was a member of also. To say otherwise is to say you would be ashamed for the public to know what you are lobbying for.

    Chauvel is showing a very condescending attitude to the public here. “Don’t worry about what goes on between unions and us: you wouldn’t understand and might misinterpret it. Adults sometimes need to talk about things in private.”

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  42. burt (7,950 comments) says:

    DPF

    It is shamefully unprincipled indeed. Labour through and through.

    Yep, that still works !

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  43. Keeping Stock (10,162 comments) says:

    Jim said

    Chauvel is showing a very condescending attitude to the public here. “Don’t worry about what goes on between unions and us: you wouldn’t understand and might misinterpret it. Adults sometimes need to talk about things in private.”

    Jim absolutely nails it. Charles Chauvel has been completely and utterly exposed here, and the Waikato Times’ “shamefully unprincipled” describes his actions very succinctly.

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  44. Scott1 (479 comments) says:

    I’m not sure how difficult the regulations would be but i imagine if corporates can handle them, then NGO and Unions should be able to also. A NGO or a Union could have all sorts of objectives equally as sinister as corporate interests from the perspective of new zealanders.

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  45. Scott1 (479 comments) says:

    scrubone,
    wanting to shut them down is far overshooting the mark – but just because an organization does good work on the ground should not put their administration beyond reproach.

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  46. Paulus (2,546 comments) says:

    If this becomes undeclared policy for the Labour and GAA Party (Greens Against Anything) it is indicative of a frightening future for New Zealand.
    Of course we will not do these things (till after the Election).

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  47. Pete George (23,168 comments) says:

    If this becomes undeclared policy for the Labour and GAA Party (Greens Against Anything)

    In this case it seems that its GAA – Greens Against Charles.

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  48. unaha-closp (1,133 comments) says:

    Chauvel is seeking to prevent the Exclusive Bretheren (not for profit/voluntary organisation) from being subject to scrutiny under lobbying legislation.

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  49. Bob R (1,354 comments) says:

    Shame on Chauvel.

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  50. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    Unions don’t do “heft lobbying” and “research”? I’m sure the CTU’s affiliates will now be asking Helen Kelly and Bill Rosenberg if they’re doing anything except playing Angry Birds and cruising Trademe all day. :)

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