George Rennie writes in The Conversation (21.6.17) that, when it comes to regulating lobbyists’ access to politicians in the decision making process, countries such as Canada offer Australia clear lessons on how to better police lobbying.
‘Lobbying is a necessary component of representative democracy, yet poses one of its greatest threats.
‘Interest groups must be free to have a say. But the disproportionate influence of a few over many serves to seriously undermine democratic ideals, and comes at great cost to the taxpayer.
‘Given its importance, lobbying is an area that requires thoughtful laws that ensure as much transparency as possible, and prevent officials from abusing their power. In Australia, such laws are inadequate or missing. But other countries have taken important steps, and Australia can learn from their efforts.
‘For the most part, Australia has a system of ill-enforced state and federal codes, administered by partisan bodies. At the federal level, there is the Ministerial Code of Conduct, and the Lobbying Code of Conduct. Both are weak.’