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Urgent Reform Needed: Tauranga Rated Lowest In National Council Approval Survey

Introduction: The Unregulated State of Lobbying in New Zealand

In New Zealand, unlike in many other democratic nations, the lobbying industry operates without specific regulatory oversight. This absence of regulations means there is no requirement for lobbyists to register, no public disclosure of who is influencing decision-makers, and no official record of what is being communicated to those in power. This lack of transparency often results in decision-makers hearing a one-sided narrative, predominantly shaped by those with the resources to advocate for their interests vigorously. Tauranga, under the management of appointed commissioners, strikingly exemplifies this issue, having been rated the lowest in council approval across the country at -18%, according to a new poll by Curia Research in collaboration with the Taxpayers' Union. “New Zealand stands out as a rare example in the democratic world where lobbying operates without checks, creating a hidden layer of influence that affects everyone,” says Erika Harvey, Director of Public Affairs at Lobby for Good.

The Consequences of Unregulated Lobbying

When only the voices of well-funded, private interests are heard, the decisions made by our leaders can disproportionately reflect the priorities of a select few rather than the collective needs of the public. Developers, large corporations, and other financially potent entities can afford to employ lobbyists who provide data and arguments that support their clients' agendas. This information is not always a balanced representation of facts but rather a strategic presentation meant to influence outcomes favourably for those paying the lobbyists' bills. Without alternative data or opposing viewpoints, policies can be skewed towards these interests, leaving the broader community's needs unaddressed. “Without regulation, there's an open door for dominant voices to shape policies that serve narrow interests, often leaving the general public behind," explains Harvey.

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The Critical Need for Lobby for Good in Tauranga

In Tauranga, the consequences of unregulated lobbying have been stark, as recent developments have shown that decisions are predominantly shaped by these influential groups. This undue influence has seen the overall reputation of Tauranga City Council plummet to a dismal 21%, in their own internal survey. "The disconnect between our commissioners and the community they serve is alarming," stated Erika Harvey, Director of Public Affairs at Lobby for Good. "It’s evident that without intervention, the voice of the community will continue to be overshadowed by a few powerful interests."

Advocating for Genuine Democracy in Tauranga

Considering these challenges, Lobby for Good is advocating for critical reforms and has been alongside other community groups urging for the commissioners to be limited to a 'caretaker' role to contain integrity risks until the July elections. Despite these efforts, the recent decision by Minister Simeon Brown to allow commissioners to maintain their full powers has sparked concerns, particularly with the upcoming $4.75 billion Long-Term Plan which faces escalating costs and rushed approvals without sufficient public input.

Supporting Grassroots Advocacy

Lobby for Good is revolutionising the way lobbying and government relations function, making these critical activities accessible to everyone, not just those with deep pockets.

"We help every person have a voice in decision-making, especially those busy with daily responsibilities like working and providing for their families. With your support, we are dedicated to bringing your concerns and perspectives to the table," says Erika Harvey.

Our latest campaign focuses on:

  • Public Record Accessibility: Pushing for the release of records from the commissioners' tenure to promote accountability.
  • Engaging Public Dialogues: Hosting 'Meet the Candidate' forums to boost community involvement in governance.
  • Comprehensive Data Analysis: Funding studies to capture diverse community opinions, ensuring well-rounded decision-making.

A Simple Cup of Coffee Can Make a Difference

Supporting Lobby for Good's mission can begin with a contribution as small as the price of a cup of coffee. "Every little bit helps us maintain an independent voice in lobbying," explained Harvey. "You can make a one-time donation or join as a monthly supporter. Lobby for Good has been entirely self-funded and is free from vested interests, emphasising the critical need for public backing to ensure that our community’s voice leads to fair and democratic outcomes."

About Lobby for Good

Lobby for Good is a social enterprise dedicated to transforming the landscape of lobbying and government relations. Our mission is to make lobbying accessible to everyone, not just those with deep pockets. We focus on amplifying community perspectives, facilitating open dialogue, and championing the rights and interests of everyday kiwis. Your voice matters, but its stronger with the support of your community.

Contact Information:
Erika Harvey, Director of Public Affairs
Lobby for Good
027 470 0337
For further details, visit our website.

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