Prime Minister Chris Hipkins is planning a crackdown on parliamentary lobbying, including removing card access for lobbyists.
Hipkins is also calling on outside lobbyists to develop a voluntary code of conduct. The cabinet manual would also be updated to make it clear that ministers’ decisions should not be influenced by the prospect or expectation of future employment in a particular organization or sector.
“New Zealand is an outlier internationally in our regulation of lobbying,” he said.
Lobbyists’ passes to Parliament will be canceled to better regulate their access to politicians, Hipkins said. This includes representatives from business, the non-governmental sector and trade unions.
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As a longer-term measure, Hipkins has commissioned “an important piece of work” to look at policy options for regulating lobbying.
“Getting it right will take a lot of work and consultation and I expect the advice to come back in 2024,” he said.
The announcement comes after controversy Member of Parliament Stuart Nash announced his retirement from politics. Nash was first stripped of his police portfolio and then Hipkins fired him from the cabinet on Tuesday for a series of missteps and mishandling of an OIA.
In 2020, Nash emailed two donors the details of confidential cabinet discussions, a clear violation of the cabinet manual. The scandal has the role of the OIA and lobbyists in the spotlight and led to an investigation into Nash to make sure there were no other cabinet breaches.
National deputy leader Nicola Willis said her party supports the government’s plans but would like it to go further and insert a 12-month gap between parliament and the lobby.
However, David Seymour, leader of the ACT party, said lobbying could make an even darker profession.
“I’m glad to see that you don’t have special treatment and pass-based access for some people. That has always been wrong,” he said.
“But all I’m saying is the more complicated rules you put in place – even the need for a pass that some people have and others don’t – the easier you make it for professional lobbyists to gain access and the more difficult you make it. for the average person.”