No Right Turn blogs:
As everyone by now knows, Holly Walker’s Lobbying Disclosure Bill was unanimously sent to select committee by the House on Wednesday night. The bill has flaws, and this will be a chance to fix them and bring some regulation to this area. Meanwhile, Labour has already put some stakes in the ground, offering amendments which would limit the bill to commercial organisations and exclude NGOs and trade unions from its scope.
Quite apart from introducing loopholes you could drive a busload of lobbyists through, this also undermines the objectives of the bill. “National, patriotic, religious, philanthropic, charitable, scientific, artistic, social, professional, or sporting” NGOs – and unions – are lobbyists just like everybody else, and therefore their lobbying should be disclosed. Trying to exempt them simply makes it look like Labour thinks the rules shouldn’t apply to their mates. And that is neither principled nor fair.
I will be submitting on the bill specifically to oppose these proposed amendments. I suggest others who want proper transparency (rather than just transparency for people Labour doesn’t like) do likewise.
These are appalling amendments by Labour, and show their commitment to transparency to be a nasty sham. The specific exemption for unions is especially self-seeking.
This looks to be a repeat of the Electoral Finance Act. Labour talked transparency around electoral finance law, but what they actually introduced to Parliament has no extra transparency around donations (that was inserted in later, after people such as myself submitted the law should be changed), but instead was around fucking over their opponents.
The bill introduced by Holly Walker is well-intentioned. I hope consensus can be found on an applicable regime. But if the Greens go along with Labour’s amendments, then that bastardises the entire bill, and turns it into a partisan hatchet job. If that occurs, then I’d say Parliament should reject the bill entirely (which National, ACT and United can do).
It makes you wonder why Labour wants to hide the extent of their meetings and lobbying from unions, from public scrutiny. I for one think some sunlight there would be a great thing.