Lobbyists banned from receiving success fees

By Angela Dorizas

The Queensland Government will become the first in Australia to legislate a ban on the payment of success fees to lobbyists who achieve favourable outcomes from government for their clients.

Premier Anna Bligh’s announcement comes just weeks after former MP Gordon Nuttall was jailed for accepting secret payments from businessmen.

She said the legislation would be modelled on the Canadian approach where the ban has sent a clear signal to business and lobbyists.

Bligh said the new laws will not only apply to fees payable for procurement of government contracts.

“Success fees will be banned if they are contingent on securing meetings with government representatives or securing licenses or securing changes to legislation, regulation or policy – all proposals are assessed entirely on their merits,” she said.

“I want all Queenslanders to be confident that Government decisions are in the public interest. Inevitably, those who stand to benefit from government decisions seek to put their case forward in the best possible terms and some choose to do this through a paid lobbyist.

“I have no issue with organisations engaging a lobbyist…I am concerned however about the perception that success fees provide an incentive for lobbyists to push the boundaries of appropriateness in their contact with government.”

The State Government will also conduct a review of integrity and accountability issues, including political fundraising and the adequacy of internal misconduct investigation procedures.

A Green Paper addressing the issues will be issued and submissions will be sought from the wider community.
It will canvas a number of specific issues such as political fundraising, the Ministerial Code of Conduct, the Pecuniary Interest Register and the appropriateness of current internal misconduct investigation mechanisms.

“The time has now come for a frank and open public discussion on a number of topical integrity and accountability issues,” Bligh said.

“I want to open up a wide-ranging consideration, taking into account the reforms of the past 20 years, the modern context in which we govern and changing public expectations.

“I look forward to receiving submissions outlining a broad range of views about a broad range of integrity and accountability issues with and resulting Legislative changes in Parliament by the end of the year.”

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