Fixing the 'dismal' state of lobbying regulation

09/12/2022 | 2 mins

How to achieve integrity in Australian Federal and State jurisdictions in lobbying practices is the subject of a seminar to be held at The University of Western Australia next week. 

Co-organised by the UWA Public Policy Institute, the Electoral Research Network and UWA Law School, the event is an opportunity to discuss the effectiveness of lobbying regulation in Australia and make recommendations for reform to achieve transparency, political equality and fairness.

Lobbying is integral to democratic representation, however there are growing concerns regarding the undue influence of professional lobbyists, which could lead to corrupt conduct by lobbyists and/or officials.  

Professor Sarah Murray, from UWA Law School, is chairing the seminar and said she was thrilled to provide a forum for interactive discussion and believes lobbying regulation could best ensure integrity in government.

“This event is an excellent chance to engage with the important issue of the appropriate limits on lobbying within the Australian democratic system,” Professor Murray said. 

The seminar will feature guest speaker Associate Professor Yee-Fui Ng, Acting Director of the Australian Centre for Justice Innovation at Monash University and 2021-22 Fulbright Scholar.

Associate Professor Ng said the current level of disclosure of lobbying activity required in most Australian jurisdictions, was dismal. 

“With the exception of NSW and Queensland, the only disclosure required is the name and contact details of the lobbyist and the client they are representing,” Associate Professor Ng said.

“There is a complete vacuum of knowledge about when lobbyists are contacting government officials and over what policy issues.” 

Associate Professor Ng will unpack the history of Australian lobbying regulation and discuss what changes are needed in this space to ensure a transparent and level-playing field.

“Reform of lobbying regulation in Australia to enhance the scope of its coverage and the level of disclosure of lobbying activity will shine the light of transparency in an area currently hidden in the shadows,” Associate Professor Ng said. 

“It will reduce the risk of corruption by lobbyists and public officials and ultimately promote the democratic norms of political equality and fairness.”

Register here for the seminar Lobbying regulation in Australia: where we are now and options for reform on Wednesday 14 December. 

Media references

Annelies Gartner (UWA Media & PR Manager) 6488 3229

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