Senator Jacqui Lambie’s plan to take the lobbying code of conduct, which was introduced in 2008 by the Rudd government, and turn it into a mandatory industry code, policed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, has once again brought public attention to the standards of behaviour expected of those making representations to federal politicians.
While we await the debate on this plan, not-for-profit leaders and policy workers may be interested to review the comprehensive Research Paper prepared by Deirdre McKeown, Politics and Public Administration Section of the Parliamentary Library, in August 2014. Who pays the piper? Rules for lobbying governments in Australia, Canada, UK and USA surveys lobbying codes of conduct and registers introduced by Australian federal and state governments and some overseas governments. It acknowledges that whilst “lobbying is a legitimate practice and part of the democratic process, the 2014 hearings conducted by the New South Wales (NSW) Independent Commission Against Corruption have exposed weaknesses in lobbying rules“.
There may have been some changes in certain jurisdictions since this 2014 paper was published, but there doesn’t appear to be a more up to date summary of lobbying rules across Australia as yet.
Most associations and charities are represented by their senior leaders rather than ex-politicians within professional lobbying firms, and so the code of conduct may not apply directly to your organisation, however, it would be prudent to monitor the debate on the revised code to see what implications may arise for your advocacy work.