Category Archives: corruption

Last Week in Queensland – 23 May 2016

last-week-logo-2Interesting reactions to the latest Galaxy opinion poll, a discussion paper actually about Uber but called something else, and several significant development projects moving forward … last week in Queensland*.

Governing

 

The Opposition and Crossbench

ETU member and MP Shane King

ETU member and MP Shane King

 

Politics

 

Community

 

Economy and Infrastructure

 

qld-parliamentParliament

  • Queensland’s Parliament sits this coming week from Tuesday 24 May to Thursday 26 May, before the State Budget on 14 June
  • The Queensland Parliament’s summary of what’s new, including newly-introduced and passed legislation, is here www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/whats-new
  • The Federal Parliament has been prorogued until after the Federal Election on 2 July – see www.aph.gov.au

 

 

 

* We’re not representing that this is a complete coverage of news in Queensland – it certainly isn’t, and it’s what we find interesting or important, and sometimes what’s unusual.  Some of the links will require subscriptions to read content.

 

 

Lobbying & Integrity – Government Wants You!

Dogbert Does LobbyingThere’s a Queensland Parliamentary Committee asking for your views on lobbying in Queensland – the outcome might significantly improve transparency and integrity in Government decision-making.

An estimated 80% of lobbying is unregulated, unreported and secret, right now.  The recommendations before the committee would take the rules that currently apply only to lobbyists who are consultants, and impose them on all of the other lobbyists, too – forcing them to abide by a code of conduct and publicly report contact with Ministers, Ministerial staff, and senior public servants, for example.

But be quick, if you want to have a say.

Back in June, the Palaszczuk Government appointed Professor Peter Coaldrake to conduct a Strategic Review of the Functions of the Integrity Commissioner, included a review of lobbyist regulation: his Report was tabled in State Parliament on 16 July 2015

Parliament’s Finance and Administration Committee has resolved to review the report to consider the recommendations made and comment on other findings, and they are calling for submissions – the closing date Monday 21 September 2015.  The Committee may consider holding a public hearing on Wednesday 14 October 2015.

You can find out more, and download the Coaldrake Report, here.

 

 

Resigned To It

heart-brain-smallThere’s too many opportunities for the Queensland media to suggest a conflict of interest exists, in having a lobbyist on the Australian Labor Party’s Administrative Committee, so I resigned last Monday*.

There isn’t inevitably a conflict of interest, and any potential for conflict is quite manageable, but that wouldn’t necessarily be how the media would paint it.

Too many might revel in the opportunity to confect and manipulate a story about, for example, how corporate interests can intervene in debate to take revenge on uncooperative Ministers, or how lobbyists in such roles can transfer sensitive information to clients**.

With the Palaszczuk Government lacking a majority, and lobbyists always an easy, available, and vulnerable target, it seems unwise to leave open an avenue of attack.

The New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party, and the Liberal Party nationally, have banned lobbyists’ membership of their Administrative Committee equivalents, and in the Liberal Party’s case their national equivalent, too.

My strongest interest as an Administrative Committee member has been reforming the culturegovernance and communications of the Australian Labor Party: I am sure this agenda will be continued by others, including new State Secretary Evan Moorhead, but I’ll have to pursue these issues in other forums.

Mike Smith

 

* Effective in a couple of weeks.
** No such proposition would reflect the truly bureaucratic tedium that is the Administrative Committee agenda.

Australian Lobbying: Credibility Fail

in-suit-pocket-95When lobbying and Government relations consultants market their personal access to Ministers, what are they really saying?

Are they claiming that the Government in question is insufficiently accessible, and prefers to talk with businesses and community groups introduced by “friends”?  Are they suggesting Government makes the best decisions when founded on input from their circle alone?

Are they admitting they offer nothing by way of strategic, tactical or communications advice, or that such advice is unimportant compared to access via friends?

If the Government is inaccessible to those outside their circle, is it right to reinforce such behaviour by facilitating it rather than trying to change it?

If a lobbyist is skilled at securing policy outcomes from Governments, as all claim, and if they are committed to Government making best quality decisions, as most too claim, how can they not make an effort to persuade a Government that it needs to be accessible to all?

I assert that whether they market their access ahead of other advisory capabilities, and whether they make a pro bono effort to improve Government decision-making, are tests of lobbyists’ integrity, and of their real commitment to good Government.

 

 

A Most Dangerous Combination

corruptionPublishing Ministerial diaries while concealing political donations is a corruption minefield, when combined.

I’m glad you asked “why?”

In Queensland, Cabinet Ministers publish their diaries.  If you don’t want it widely known that you’re meeting a Minister* about your business, it can only happen “informally”: for example at a political fundraising function or a social event.

At the same time, the maximum political donation that can be kept secret, has been lifted from $1,000 to $12,800, and caps to how much you may donate have been abolished.

It’s no secret that there have been recent political fundraiser dinners costing $5,000 and more per person, and other functions with higher prices to be seated with particular Ministers – all that’s secret is who paid and with whom they sat.

A lobbyist – smart, observant, politically partisan – might be remiss if they don’t advise a client that in lieu of declaring to the world they are meeting a Minister, they can go to dinner with them, now secretly, at a fundraising event.  They might also advise that it’s worth the higher “Ministerial” price, to maintain secrecy and to talk with the right person.

And regardless of what they discuss, it need not be characterised as a meeting nor diarised.

The public nature of diarised meetings, a business need to keep discussions secret, and the opportunity to pay for secret discussions, is a terrible and dangerous combination.

Paranoid?

Former Deputy Chief Minister of the Northern Territory (and still a leadership aspirant) Dave Tollner said donations would open his door “if you ever need to talk to me about something”.  On radio, he said people who did not donate faced “a line-up at the door” and that “you have to start prioritising”.  Dave clearly needs to absorb this.

* or the Minister doesn’t want it to be widely known