Read between the lines

Kate Chapman at Stuff reports:

unions do not want to be exempted from a potential lobbying register, despite Labour’s attempts to have them excluded.

Green MP Holly Walker has a member’s bill that would create a register of lobbyists and require them to follow a code of ethics.

The bill passed its first reading with unanimous support, but Labour has since suggested an amendment that would exempt unions.

Fairfax Media can now reveal that the unions have not asked for that and say it would not be practical.

In a draft submission, the Council of Unions expressed concern about the proposed regime.

“Lobbying is a core activity of unions, but the consequences on trade unions and NGOs from this bill if it were to proceed have not been sufficiently considered.”

There were practical difficulties in establishing which staff within a union would have to be registered and the reporting requirements and penalties were “particularly burdensome”.

But it did not ask to be exempted from the scheme “on the basis of being unions”.

Rather, the CTU sought different reporting requirements for unions and non-governmental organisations.

Effectively they are still asking for an exemption, or at least reduced requirements. They’re just saying all non-businesses should be exempt or have reduced transparency requirements.

“The CTU has concerns about the increasing influence of corporate lobbying and the influential impact of professional and secret lobbying.”

Translation: Lobbying by businesses is bad and evil, and lobbying by unions and NGOs is good and lovely.

“The bill in its current form treats all lobbyists as if they are equal when lobbyists’ power and influence is very unequal.”

Unions are very powerful lobbyists. If Labour MPs get offside with unions, they risk losing selection battles or being demoted down the list. The next will be 20% elevated by unions, and unions are a primary source of funds and campaign activists for Labour.

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