Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has secured a Senate inquiry to review the federal Lobbying Code of Conduct, following a failure of the government to initiate a review as recommended in 2008. The government spoke against the motion seeking an inquiry.
"The Greens believe that while lobbying is a legitimate part of the democratic process, the public expects transparency and the current Code captures little of the lobbying activity that occurs behind closed doors," Senator Rhiannon said.
"We now have an opportunity to strengthen regulation of what is widely recognised as a feeble code of conduct.
"The federal code, which is limited to third party lobbyists, has significant holes and lags well behind regulatory schemes in the US and Canada.
"The scheme excludes in-house lobbyists and lobbying of MPs outside of the Executive, does not require the timely disclosure of the subject matter of lobbying and lacks effective sanctions.
"This new inquiry will help lift the veil on what is really happening in the lobbying world.
"The government, in opposing this inquiry, has shown itself to be wary of proper scrutiny of the delicate relationship between lobbyists and MPs.
"It argues it has reviewed the code by holding a roundtable of selected lobbyists and issuing a discussion paper in 2010.
"However no submissions to the discussion paper were ever made public or a report issued following this process. Minor changes made in August this year were largely administrative," Senator Rhiannon said.
A major focus of Senator Rhiannon's work in her democracy portfolio is lobbyists. She has recently pursued the issue in Estimates and is developing a new section in her www.democracy4sale.org site, allowing links between lobbyists and political donations to be drawn.