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Submission on Review of Tas Lobbying Oversight System

Submission on Review of Tas Lobbying Oversight System

View the TCC submission on this topic

The  Tasmanian Climate Collective appreciates the opportunity to have input  into the review of Tasmania’s Lobbying Oversight System. 

The necessary  climate action requires better public integrity and democratic  processes. For this reason, our members take a strong interest in these  lobbying reforms.

About Tasmanian Climate Collective

Tasmanian  Climate Collective is a group of passionate and committed organisations  and individuals from across Tasmania who advocate for strong action on  climate change. The Collective is made up of climate change, social and  environmental groups and grassroots organisations. The Tasmanian Climate  Collective has no political affiliation and is composed of scientists,  farmers, doctors, teachers, nurses and other concerned citizens calling  for more action on climate change.

OUR VISION  lutruwita Tasmania is a world leader on climate action, prioritising environment and people.

OUR PURPOSE   Tasmanian Climate Collective connects groups and individuals to  encourage, promote and initiate climate action across lutruwita Tasmania  through cooperation, influence and knowledge sharing.

The  Integrity Commission should be commended for the progress made thus far  in reforming Tasmanian lobbying practices. However, more comprehensive  measures are necessary to ensure transparency, fairness, and ultimately,  to bring Tasmania's lobbying standards on par or even surpass those of  other jurisdictions. 

In recent years, there has been a growing  recognition worldwide that the influence of lobbying can have  far-reaching implications on the democratic fabric of society, and thus,  robust regulation and oversight are essential. 

While Tasmania has taken  some steps in this direction, it is imperative to continue striving for greater transparency and accountability within the lobbying landscape.  In the following sections we detail areas in which the proposed reforms  could be significantly improved.

Local government lobbying:

One  of the key issues that we would like to raise in this submission is the  exclusion of local government lobbying from the Commission's terms of  reference. We believe that this is a significant oversight that  undermines the integrity and transparency of the public decision-making  process at the local level. Local government lobbying can have a  profound impact on planning, development, environment, and other matters  that affect the lives and well-being of Tasmanians. Therefore, we urge  the Commission to consider extending its remit to cover local public  officials and their interactions with lobbyists. This would ensure that  the same standards of accountability and disclosure apply to all tiers  of government in Tasmania.

Succinctly: Extend the Commission's remit to cover local public officials and lobbyists.

Disclosure logs and Ministerial Diaries:

Another  aspect of the proposed disclosure reforms that we find inadequate is  the lack of responsibility and accountability placed on the lobbyists  themselves. We believe that lobbyists, who stand to benefit from  influencing public decisions, should be required to fill out a  disclosure log and submit it to the Commission. This would allow the  public to cross-check the information provided by the public officials  and ensure that there are no discrepancies or omissions.

Moreover,  the disclosure log should contain more details than the current  drop-down menu categories, such as the topic and intended outcome of the  lobbying activity, as suggested by the Irish model.

We  also recommend that the Commission adopt the practice of publishing  Ministerial Diaries, which would enhance the transparency and scrutiny  of the government's actions. Ministerial Diaries should be easily  accessible, released at least monthly, and include meaningful content  about how the ministers spend their time and who they meet with.

Finally,  we propose that the disclosure of lobbying activities should occur  within 3 days, rather than 5 days, of the interaction. This would ensure  that any last-minute lobbying before an important vote is captured and  disclosed in a timely manner.


  • Require lobbyists to fill out and submit a disclosure log to the Commission.

  • Publish Ministerial Diaries online at least monthly.

  • Reduce the disclosure period for lobbying activities from 5 days to 3 days.

Lobbyist Register:

We  also have some concerns about the proposed requirements for the  lobbyist register. While we welcome the introduction of a requirement  for registered lobbyists to acknowledge donations to public officials in  the previous 12 months, we believe that this is not enough to ensure  transparency and accountability. We suggest that registered lobbyists  should also disclose the name of the recipient, the date, and the amount  of the donation. This would allow the public to see who is funding the  political parties and candidates, and whether there is any potential  conflict of interest or undue influence.

We  also propose that the threshold for disclosing donations should be  lowered from the current federal level of $14,500 to a more reasonable  level of $1,000. This would prevent lobbyists from hiding their  donations by splitting them into smaller amounts or using third  parties.

Furthermore,  we recommend that registered lobbyists should update their information  on the lobbyist register at regular, short intervals, and within at  least 10 days of any relevant change in circumstance. This would ensure  that the information on the register is accurate and up-to-date, and  that the public can access it easily and quickly.


  • Require lobbyists to disclose the name, date, and amount of any donation to a public official in the previous 12 months.

  • Lower the threshold for disclosing donations from $14,500 to $1,000.

  • Require lobbyists to update their information on the register at regular, short intervals, and within 10 days of any change.

Legislation and Sanctions:

Another  issue that we would like to address in this submission is the need for a  Lobbying Code of Conduct to be enshrined in legislation. We agree with  the Centre for Public Integrity that this would incentivise compliance  and increase transparency in lobbying. We note that other jurisdictions,  such as Queensland, Western Australia, Canada, Ireland, and Scotland,  have already adopted such legislation. We believe that Tasmania should  follow suit and introduce a robust and comprehensive legal framework for  regulating lobbying activities.

The  legislation should also cover the private sector, as well as the public  sector, to ensure that all parties involved in lobbying are subject to  the same rules and standards. Moreover, the legislation should provide  for stringent sanctions for non-compliance by lobbyists or public  officials. We propose that de-registration of lobbyists should be  accompanied by a lengthy ban of 10 years on reapplying to the register  and significant fines. We also suggest that breaches by public officials  should be treated as more than misconduct under the Integrity  Commission Act, and should entail serious consequences.

In  addition, non-compliance by lobbyists or public officials should be  published in a transparent and timely manner, as done by New South Wales  with its Lobbyist Watch Register. If the Commission is not able to  introduce the desired legislation at this time, we urge it to do so upon  review of its function and effectiveness after two years, as  recommended in the Framework Report.


  • Enshrine a Lobbying Code of Conduct in legislation, covering both public and private sectors.

  • Impose a 10-year ban and significant fines for de-registered lobbyists.

  • Treat breaches by public officials as more than misconduct under the Integrity Commission Act.

Cooling-off Periods:

The  proposed cooling-off period for former public officials in Tasmania is  too short and does not adequately prevent the risk of undue influence or  improper use of information. The Integrity Commission's proposal of a  12-month period is based on the assumption that former public officials  face difficulties in finding employment in Tasmania, but it has not  provided any evidence to support this claim. On the contrary, other  jurisdictions, such as Canada, have much longer cooling-off periods for  former public officials, ranging from two to five years, depending on  the level and nature of their position. These longer periods are  intended to protect the public interest and ensure that former public  officials do not use their insider knowledge or connections to benefit  themselves or others in their post-employment activities.

Succinctly: Extend the cooling-off period to between 2 and 5 years and justify it with evidence and best practices.

Dual Hatting:

The  Commission has proposed a 12-month prohibition on dual hatting, meaning  that a lobbyist who played a significant role in a successful election  campaign cannot lobby the elected public official or any public official  who reports to them for 12 months after the election.

While  we welcome the Commission's recognition of the problem of dual hatting,  we do not think that the proposed 12-month period is long enough to  address it effectively. The issue of undue influence does not suitably  diminish after 12 months, especially if the lobbyist continues to have  close ties with the elected public official or their party.

The  time should be increased to as much as the entire term of the public  official. This would ensure that there is a clear separation between  campaign activities and lobbying activities, and prevent any perception  or reality of favouritism or quid pro quo arrangements.

This  is consistent with the recommendation of Queensland’s Coaldrake Report,  which suggested that a lobbyist who played a significant role in a  successful election campaign should be barred from lobbying for the  entirety of the term of office.

Succinctly: Ban dual hatting for the entire term of office of the elected public official.

Paid Access:

Paid  access can create a perception or reality of corruption, as lobbyists  may use their financial resources to buy influence or favour from public  officials. This undermines public trust and confidence in our political  system. We urge the Commission to reconsider its stance on paid access  and include it within the definition of lobbying activities. This would  require lobbyists to disclose any payments they make or receive for  attending events or functions where public officials are present or  speaking.

This  would also align Tasmania with other jurisdictions, such as New South  Wales and Victoria, which have included paid access within their  lobbying regulations.

Succinctly: Include paid access in the definition of lobbying activities and require disclosure of payments.

Gift Giving:

We  support the Commission's proposal to ban gift giving from registered  lobbyists to public officials. However, we think that the proposed model  only addresses part of the problem. Unregistered lobbyists should also  be banned from giving gifts to public officials, as this would create  the same risks and issues as registered lobbyists.

If  the Commission contends that the proposed recommendations include all  gift giving, then they should clarify this and make it more explicit in  the proposed reforms. The Commission should also provide clear guidance  on what constitutes a gift and what are the acceptable exceptions or  exemptions, such as cultural or ceremonial gifts.

Succinctly: Ban gift giving from all lobbyists to public officials and provide clear guidance on exceptions.

Suitable Resourcing:

To fulfil its objectives, the Commission needs adequate resourcing to  carry out its functions effectively and efficiently. The commission's  resourcing should not be subject to the whims or interests of the  governments of the day, as this could compromise its independence and  credibility. The Commission should be protected by law from any undue  interference or influence by the executive or legislative branches of  government, especially in relation to its budget allocation, staffing,  and operational decisions. This would ensure that the commission can  perform its role without fear or favour and uphold the integrity of the  public sector in Tasmania.

Succinctly:  Guarantee adequate funding and limit government interference for the  Commission and ensure robust and user-friendly processes.

27 July 2023

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