WHAT IS LOBBYING?
Lobbying under the Act
The Integrity Act 2009 section 42(1)(a) defines lobbying activities as—
... contact with a government representative in an effort to influence state or local government decision-making, including—
(i) the making or amendment of legislation; and
(ii) the development or amendment of a government policy or program; and
(iii) the awarding of a government contract or grant; and
(iv) the allocation of funding; and
(v) the making of a decision about planning or giving of a development approval under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009; or ...
Section 42(1)(b) extends the scope of the definition to contact with an Opposition representative in an effort to influence Opposition decision-making, including—
(i) the making or amendment of legislation; and
(ii) the development or amendment of an Opposition policy or program; and
(iii) the Opposition's position or view in relation to State or local government decision-making, including, for example, the matters mentioned
in paragraph (a)(i) to (v).
Section 42(2) and (3) lists contact that is not considered lobbying.
The key to understanding whether an action is or is not considered 'lobbying' under the Act is "contact with a government representative in an effort to influence ... decision-making".
It should also be noted that, under section 41 of the Act, a lobbyist is an entity that carries out a lobbying activity for a third party client and receives a fee or other reward for providing those services.
Associated activities that are NOT considered lobbying
Lobbying contact does not include contact solely for the purpose of arranging, changing or cancelling a meeting or meetings. The organisation of the meeting is not lobbying; it is contact to organise a meeting at which, at a later stage, lobbying may take place.
If the person arranging a meeting gives a person an overview of what it is hoped will be achieved by a future meeting, the Integrity Commissioner does not consider this to be lobbying.
Example: Leo Lobbyist rings Mick Minister'sAdviser in order to arrange a meeting with the Minister. Leo explains to Mick the purpose of the meeting.
Similarly, the act of organising for a group of people to be together in a room for the purpose of lobbying, even if they would otherwise not meet, is also not considered to be lobbying.
Example: Leo Lobbyist emails the Minister's Office to organise a meeting between the Minister, Mick Minister'sAdviser, and three members of an organisation that is one of Leo's clients.
A lobbyist who is preparing a strategy for a client is not lobbying as defined in the Act. Lobbyists do these things, but they are not the activities that the Act seeks to regulate.
Example: Leo Lobbyist is asked by a client to monitor government and opposition policy proposals and developments, and report on the likelihood of changes in the public policy debate. He does not have any immediate contact with government representatives during this process.
A meeting between a government or opposition representative does not always constitute lobbying as defined in the Act. For example, a meeting in the street or at a party where pleasantries are exchanged, but no lobbying takes place, is not a lobbying activity.
Activities that the Act states are not lobbying
The Integrity Act 2009 section 42(2) states certain activities are not lobbying.
- Contact with a committee of the Legislative Assembly or a local government
Example: A Parliamentary Committee is considering water allocations in the State. Leo Lobbyist sends an unsolicited submission to the committee urging a certain line of action.
• Contact with a member of the Legislative Assembly, or a councillor, in his or her capacity as a local representative on a constituency matter.
Example: Citizen Chris seeks a meeting with a Minister to urge that he do what he can to improve sporting facilities in his constituency.
• Contact in response to a call for submissions.
Example: A Parliamentary Committee is considering water allocations in the State. It calls for submissions from interested stakeholders. Citizen Chris sends a submission to the committee urging a certain line of action.
• Contact in response to a request for tender.
Example: The government invites tenders for the construction of a new sporting centre. Citizen Chris's company, XYZ Constuctions, submits a tender that contends it will be the superior tender because of their innovative building methods.
• Statements made in a public forum
Example: Interested stakeholders call a public meeting to protest against the placement of a new sporting centre on land where the rare whipwhip bird is said to breed. Local government representatives attend, and also the local MP. Leo Lobbyist speaks loudly and assertively against the proposal.
• Responses to requests by government representatives or Opposition representatives for information.
Example: The Department of Local Government has had drafted proposed amendments to the Local Government Act. The department circulates the proposed amendments among the local government community and requests feedback. It receives 176 responses from local governments, affected industries and interested citizens.
• Incidental meetings beyond the control of a government representative or Opposition representative.
Example: A Minister or the Leader of the Opposition speaks at a conference and has an unscheduled discussion with Leo Lobbyist who is a conference participant.
• Contact on non-business issues, including, for example, issues not relating to a third party client of the lobbyist or the lobbyists’ sector.
Example: A Minister attends a non-political social event at which Leo Lobbyist is present. Leo Lobbyist is a cousin of the Minister and they have a discussion about federal politics.
• Contact only for the purpose of making a statutory application.
Example: A town planner takes an application to the town council for submission, where he encounters the senior government representative responsible for the area. The senior government representative accepts the application and they have a general discussion about when a decision will be made, but do not speak about the merits of this application.
It should be noted that "contact" includes telephone contact, email contact, written mail contact and face-to-face meetings (section 42(3)).
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q1: Minister Smith has a daughter, Mary Smith, who is employed as a lobbyist by VGLobbyists, a registered lobbying entity. Mary Smith rings her father and tells him that her acquaintance Mr John Jones has qualifications that would make him suitable for consideration as a deputy director-general, and she will send him John's resume.
Would she be carrying out a lobbying activity (1) if there is a vacancy for which John Jones could be considered and Minister Smith will be participating in the selection, or (2) if there is no vacancy?
A1: It is not lobbying in either (1) or (2), because Miss Smith is not receiving payment. The government amended the Integrity Act in late 2012 to limit lobbying as defined in the Act to lobbying for which a payment is made. (See section 42(2).)
Q2: In Q1, George Brown, a director and lobbyist at VGLobbyists who is friendly with his client, John Jones, proposed to Mary that she contact her father, Minister Smith about John's qualifications. Were his actions in compliance with the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct?
A2: No. As a lobbyist who was trying to lobby Minister Smith (through Mary) he should have told Minister Smith that he was a registered lobbyist and John Jones was his client.
Q3: Mr Black is CEO of an organisation that is an approved National Rental Affordability Scheme applicant. It interacts with both state and federal government representatives with regard to approvals granted for the scheme. While the organisation has a number of paying clients, it is acting in its own best interests and in its capacity as an approved applicant. Should Mr Black be registered as a lobbyist?
A3: No. Under section 41(3)(e) and (4) of the Act, an entity representing its own interests, or an employee of such an entity, is not required to register as a lobbyist.
Q4: Registered lobbyist Mary Smith rings the office of the Minister for Sport, seeking a meeting to present her client's proposed plans for a sporting arena in the Minister's own electorate. Should she record this phone call on her register of contact with government representatives?
A4: No. Mary is arranging a meeting at which it is likely she will be lobbying, but this phone call is merely to arrange a meeting.
Q5: A client of registered lobbyist Mary Smith has tendered for a government contract. At her client's request, Mary rings the relevant government department to find out when the contract will be decided. Should she record this phone call on her register of contact with government representatives?
A5: No. Mary is merely asking for information, not seeking to influence the decision.
Q6: Minister Blue is the Minister for Sustainable Planning. Minister White, the Minister for Cats and Dogs, asks him to join him for dinner one evening. Minister White also asks his old friend Bob Builder. Bob owns a large development firm and has asked Minister White if he would introduce him to Minister Blue in order to discuss several large government building programs that have just been announced. Is this lobbying?
A6: No. Under section 41(2) (as amended in December 2012), a lobbying service must be done for a fee or reward to come within the scope of the Act.
Minister White is doing a favour for Bob, his old mate.
Q7: Mr Green and his family used to work a farm in the Countrytown Regional Council area, in partnership with the Brown family, but no longer actively work a farm. He was also a councillor for several years. Mr Green no longer farms, but he does act as spokesman for a farming community group in the area. He is responding on behalf of the group to a council survey regarding land use in the area.
• Should Mr Green apply to be listed on the Lobbyists' Register and list the community group as a client?
• Would his status change if he resumed farming in the area?
A7: If Mr Green is paid for his representation of the farming group, he should register and list the group as a client.
If he is unpaid, he is not required to register (section 41(2) (as amended in December 2012)).
If he resumes farming in partnership with the Brown family, he will not be required to register, because he will be acting in his own interests and those of an entity with which he is in partnership.
Q8: Ms Orange has a business that specialises in refurbishing retail sites. Mr and Mrs Choo have purchased a restaurant and employed Ms Orange to refurbish it. During the process, Ms Orange notices the Choos struggling to complete a form they must submit to the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) in order to acquire a liquor licence for the restaurant. Ms Orange helps them fill out the form and, because their English is poor, rings the OLGR to facilitate the process. Ms Orange is, of course, being paid for her refurbishing work. Should she be required to register as a lobbyist?
A8: No. This is a one-off instance and Ms Orange has no intention of making such assistance a part of her usual services. It comes within the scope of 'incidental lobbying'.
It could also be argued that the Choo's payment to Ms Orange is only for her refurbishing services and her assistance with OLGR, being unpaid, is not lobbying.
Q9: White Consulting is a private consultancy offering services in town planning and urban design. White Consulting staff constantly liaise with state and local government agencies. Senior staff occasionally contact elected representatives within mainly local government at the request and on behalf of clients. Contact commonly relates to development proposals that are either before council or about to be lodged. Sometimes elected representatives will contact White Consulting to establish a client's position on a matter so as to better appreciate advice from other sources, such as an objector or a social interest group. Sometimes White Consulting's clients are government agencies.
Should White Consulting and its staff be listed on the Lobbyists' Register?
A9: White Consulting and staff who are likely to meet with government representatives on behalf of paying clients should be listed on the Lobbyists' Register. As well as being required under the Act, registration will allow the company to carry on its business without interruption, as it is likely that a government representative will refuse to meet with the company unless it is registered.
Q10: Leo Lobbyist is listed on the Lobbyists' Register, as are his clients. His business expands to include monitoring government and opposition policy proposals and developments, researching and analysing the likelihood of any impacts upon private sector companies and anticipation of changes in the public policy debate. His clients require this information to assess the likelihood of positive or negative impacts on publicly listed companies whose shares may rise or fall due to government policy developments or changes. Is Leo required to list those clients for whom his role is information gathering and analysis, not lobbying?
A10: No. Leo Lobbyist needs to list only those clients for whom he lobbies government representatives as defined in the Act.
Q11: Peter Piper has a business that specialises in assisting pubs, clubs and other such organisations apply for liquor licences through the Office for Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR). Peter advises his clients how best to complete their forms to achieve a successful outcome and interacts with OLGR on their behalf. Should Peter be registered as a lobbyist?
A11: Yes. Although the information in the forms relates to his clients, Peter aids them in presenting it in the way best suited to their cause and, to OLGR, is the 'face' of their application. It is in the interests of Peter's business for as many as possible of his clients to achieve a successful outcome and he will do what he can to bring this about. Ultimately, it is OLGR staff who must decided whether they are being lobbied.
Q12:Peter Piper seeks a meeting with Minister Jones and indicates he would like to bring a third party, Jack Brown, to the meeting. He has met with the Minister previously on non-lobbying matters.
The Minister's advisor, Dick Smith, checks the Register of Lobbyists and finds that Peter Piper is a registered lobbyist, and Jack Brown is listed as one of his clients. However, Peter Piper's services to Jack Brown are unpaid, and therefore not considered to be lobbying services under the Integrity Act.
Should Peter Piper have told the Minister's officer he is a registered lobbyist?
A12: Yes. When he made the appointment, Peter Piper should have clarified the situation by informing the Minister's office that he was a registered lobbyist and Jack Brown was listed as one of his clients, but that his services were unpaid. This requirement is set out in the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct.
Q13: A registered lobbyist, Jill Jones, is paid by Company Alpha to help them write a business plan and proposal for them to do work with the government. To help in the preparation of this business plan, Jill contacts relevant public servants and ministerial advisors to gather information. Do her queries constitute “lobbying activities”?
A13: No. Jill is not yet looking to influence a government outcome on behalf of her client. These are simply enquiries and requests for information.
Q14: After preparing a business plan and proposal on behalf of Company Alpha, Jill Jones and Company Alpha’s managing director have a meeting with the Minister in order to present the proposal. Does this constitute a “lobbying activity”?
A14: Yes, because this is now a firm proposal. The lobbyist is now lobbying the minister on behalf of the client in relation to a specific proposal.
Professional lobbyists who wish to lobby State, local government representatives or opposition representatives in Queensland (Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Ministerial staff, councillors (including mayors) and senior staff working in State or local government public sector agencies) must be listed on the Register of Lobbyists.
This is a requirement of the Integrity Act 2009.
Registration requirements previously set out in the Queensland Contact with Lobbyist Code were replaced on 1 January 2010 by requirements under the Integrity Act 2009. Under the Integrity Act 2009, the Register of Lobbyists is now the responsibility of the Integrity Commissioner and is administrated by his office.
To be listed, professional lobbyists who act on behalf of third party clients need to:
- apply for inclusion on the Register of Lobbyists
- provide information about the business and all individuals involved in lobbying
- name the third parties for whom lobbying is undertaken with State government, local government, or both - whether paid or unpaid
- for each listed person, if the person is a former senior government representative, give the date the person ceased in the role of senior government representative
- name those clients the lobbyist has provided paid or unpaid services as a lobbyist during the previous 12 months
- update the register when their information changes
- maintain details of contact with government representatives as required.
How to register as a lobbyist
About the register
The Register was established to make publicly available significant details about professional lobbyists who represent a client's views to government representatives, including:
- the business registration details, including the names of owners, partners or major shareholders, as applicable
- the names and positions of persons employed, contracted or otherwise engaged by the lobbyist to carry out lobbying activities
- for each listed person, if the person is a former senior government representative, the date the person ceased in the role of senior government representative
- the names of third parties for whom the lobbyist is currently retained to provide paid or unpaid services as a lobbyist to the State Government, local governments or both, and whether or not they are paid for providing these services, and
- the names of persons for whom the lobbyist has provided paid or unpaid services as a lobbyist during the previous 12 months.
- the register does not include any information regarding contact between lobbyists and senior government representatives. This information is administered by each State and local government agency
- lobbyists are provided with a user name and password, which enable them to enter the section of the website relevant to the entity and update details as soon as practicable after their circumstances change
- lobbyists are also required to maintain a regularly updated register of details of contact with government and opposition representatives.
Retention of information about lobbyists
Information about lobbyists and lobbying is collected and maintained as set out below.
Queensland Register of Lobbyists
The Queensland Register of Lobbyists is administered by the Integrity Commissioner's office and is available to the general public at http://lobbyists.integrity.qld.gov.au/who-is-on-the-register.aspx
Section 49 of the Integrity Act 2009 (http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/Acts_SLs/Acts_SL_I.htm) requires the Integrity Commissioner to maintain a register of lobbyists. The register contains information about those named and their clients. It does not include information about meetings between lobbyists and government representatives.
The records of the Integrity Commissioner are covered in a Queensland State Archives schedule issued to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner. The schedule includes record-keeping requirements for the Queensland Register of Lobbyists. Under reference number 2.1.1 of the Office of the Integrity Commissioner Retention and Disposal Schedule, this register is required to be retained for 10 years after last action: http://www.archives.qld.gov.au/Recordkeeping/GRKDownloads/Documents/qdan00629v2.pdf
Registers of contact with lobbyists
All public authorities (both State, local government and opposition representatives) must retain records of their contact with lobbyists for 10 years under reference number 1.7.3 of the Queensland State Archives General Retention and Disposal Schedule for Administrative Records. This includes any registers of such information: http://www.archives.qld.gov.au/Recordkeeping/GRKDownloads/Documents/GeneralDisposalSchedule.pdf
Queensland State Archives has also published advice on the management of contact with lobbyists in the form of a Public Records Brief: http://www.archives.qld.gov.au/Recordkeeping/GRKDownloads/Documents/Recordinglobbyinginteractions.pd
Under the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct, all registered lobbyists must submit to the Integrity Commissioner records of their conact with government and opposition representatives. The record of contact for a calendar month must be submitted electronically before the 15th of the following month. Information will become available to the public after submission.