New lobbying integrity measures for NSW

·2-min read

The NSW government is set to implement a suite of lobbying integrity measures after the state's corruption watchdog recommended a crackdown on political influencers.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) last month made a series of recommendations to control lobbyists' sway on politics, including tightened legislation and banning secret meetings between lobbyists and officials.

The 29 recommendations followed ICAC's investigation into lobbyists' effect on government, known as Operation Eclipse.

The government on Tuesday said it had accepted ICAC's advice, including that the current Lobbyists Code of Conduct be renamed the Lobbying Code of Conduct, and that it impose standards on public officials.

The government will also create a dedicated NSW lobbying commissioner and establish a requirement that all in-house and third-party lobbyists be registered.

Additionally, the government will create laws making it an obligation for all MPs to disclose their diaries.

Some 27 recommendations directed to the government have been supported, and the remaining two have been directed to the NSW parliament, the government said in a statement on Tuesday night.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said he was committed to addressing the risk of corruption caused by public officials or authorities being lobbied.

"The government currently has a strong model to regulate lobbying activity, and these changes will ensure we have the strongest lobbying integrity measures in the country," Mr Perrottet said.

"We are committed to ensuring a transparent government that operates in the best interest of the people of NSW, and this response ensures that."

Operation Eclipse, presided over by Chief Commissioner Peter Hall, analysed all NSW government departments' procedures and protocols and their interactions with lobbyists, including guidelines on how officials granted access to lobbyists, and how those interactions were recorded and made transparent.

Mr Hall acknowledged lobbying could contribute to outcomes that were in the public interest when it was conducted ethically and honestly.

However, Operation Eclipse and other investigations found lobbying, access and influence could result in favouritism or corrupt conduct, and the present regulation was deficient.

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