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Greens welcome recommendations for greater transparency

22 August 2013


Green Party welcomes recommendations for greater transparency


The Green Party has welcomed the final report on the Lobbying Disclosure Bill and is pleased with the committee’s clear recommendations for greater transparency.

The Government Administration Select Committee has today released its final report on the Bill. While the report recommends that the Bill should not pass, it recommends a number of non-legislative options be pursued to introduce greater transparency around political lobbying.

“The public has a right to know who is influencing MPs and about what,” said Green Party open government spokesperson and sponsor of the bill, Holly Walker.

“While lobbying is an important part of the political process, there is a strong public interest in knowing more about what happens so that citizens can have confidence in the decisions made by Government and Parliament.

“The vast majority of submitters on the bill supported the principle of greater transparency in political lobbying. While I am disappointed that the Committee has not chosen to pursue a statutory register of lobbyists, the report contains a number of very useful recommendations which, if implemented, would greatly improve the transparency of decision-making in New Zealand,” Ms Walker said.

These include:

· that the House develop guidelines for members of Parliament on handling lobbying communications, which could include mechanisms for disclosure and reporting by MPs and lobbyists

· that the Government require the regulatory impact statements and explanatory notes of parliamentary bills to include the names of any non-departmental organisations consulted during the development of legislation and policy

· the proactive release of policy papers to make the policymaking process more transparent.

“If implemented, these recommendations would be a substantial step forward for transparency,” Ms Walker said.

“They have been unanimously adopted by the Committee with cross-party support, so I see no reason why they can’t now be implemented.

“I urge Parliament and the Government to take these recommendations seriously so we can see some changes as a result of this bill.”

Ms Walker said it was a shame that the Committee had chosen not to consider amending the bill. After hearing submissions, Ms Walker drew up an alternative proposal addressing the concerns of submitters but retaining the core element of a statutory register. The Committee chose not to pursue this option.

“A number of other countries, including Australia and Canada, have lobbyist registers that are working well. The UK is also in the process of adopting one in the wake of recent scandals. New Zealand should also adopt a statutory register of lobbyists,” Ms Walker said.

“Current political events have highlighted how important the principles of open government and transparency are to New Zealanders.

“The Green Party has been a champion for honest politics for many years and we will continue to advocate for greater transparency and openness.

“Meanwhile the recommendations in the select committee report are a good step forward and we will work hard to ensure they are implemented as soon as possible.”

ends

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