Frequently asked questions about lobbying matters
- Why has the Government established a Register of Lobbyists?
- What are the Integrity Act 2009 and the Lobbyists Code of Conduct, and how do they relate to the Register of Lobbyists?
- What information is on the Register of Lobbyists?
- How up-to-date is the information on the Register?
- Is the Register of Lobbyists publicly accessible?
- What is the definition of a lobbyist and who is excluded from the definition?
- Is a request for publicly available information a lobbying activity?
- What are considered ‘incidental lobbying activities’?
- Who is a government representative?
- Who is a former senior government representative?
- Who is an Opposition representative?
- Who is a former Oppostion representative?
- What does ‘public sector officer’ mean?
- How do you determine if someone is a ‘senior executive equivalent’?
- Who is a councillor?
- How do I decide if I need to register?
- How do lobbyists become registered on the Register of Lobbyists?
- Should a lobbyist entity register and list clients in Queensland if the entity is not lobbying Queensland State or local governments?
- Is a lobbyist with pro bono clients required to register?
- What is the timeframe for giving data about previous government employment? Who must give the information?
- Will any applications for registration be refused?
- Can a lobbyist’s registration be removed from the register?
- What will happen if a lobbyist fails to confirm that his or her details are up to date as required under the Act?
- What avenues of appeal are there under the Integrity Act 2009?
- I am a registered lobbyist. How quickly can the Register be updated if I need to make representations urgently on behalf of a new client and I am unable to make the change via my user name and password?
- What does a government or opposition representative need to do if approached by a lobbyist?
- I am a government representative. What if a lobbyist approaches me at an informal gathering?
- How do I report a breach of the Code?
- What should I do if I become aware that a Government representative has been participating in lobbying activities with a lobbyist who is not on the register?
- How can I get further information on the Register or ask questions about the operation of the Register or the Act?
Respect for the institutions of government depends to a large extent on public confidence in the integrity of Ministers, Opposition members, their staff and senior government officials.
Ethical lobbying is a legitimate activity and an important part of the democratic process. Lobbyists can help individuals and organisations communicate their views on matters of public interest to the Government and Opposition and, in doing so, improve outcomes for the community as a whole.
In performing this role, there is a public expectation that lobbying activities will be carried out ethically and transparently, and that Government and Opposition representatives who are approached by lobbyists can establish whose interests they represent so that informed judgments can be made about the outcome they are seeking to achieve.
While some lobbyists work directly for a single client to advance the interests of that client, others lobby on behalf of a number of different clients.
The purpose of the Register of Lobbyists is to provide information to the Government, Opposition and the public about whom lobbyists represent in their dealings with government and opposition, and to ensure that contact between lobbyists and government and opposition representatives is conducted in accordance with public expectations of transparency, integrity and honesty.
View: Who is on the register
2. What are the Integrity Act 2009 and the Lobbyists Code of Conduct, and how do they relate to the Register of Lobbyists?
The Integrity Act 2009 and the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct underpin the Register of Lobbyists by providing limitations on the contact between lobbyists and government and opposition representatives.
The Act requires all lobbyists to be registered on the Register of Lobbyists and all government and opposition representatives to meet only with registered lobbyists. It sets out procedures for registration and the maintenance of the register.
The Code sets out standards of contact for lobbyists, including the imposition of certain obligations on lobbyists in relation to ethical conduct and transparency.
In particular, the Code requires lobbyists making an initial contact with a government or opposition representative to inform the government or opposition representative that they are listed on the register, identify the third party they are representing, outline the nature of the third party’s issue and give the reasons for the approach.
The Act requires lobbyists who are former senior government representatives or opposition representatives and who became a former senior government representative or opposition representative less than two years earlier to indicate their status and that they are complying with the Integrity Act 2009 in relation to ‘related lobbying activities’.
View: the Code
View: the Act
The Register of Lobbyists contains the following information about lobbyists:
- The lobbyist’s name and business registration particulars.
- The name and role of all people employed, contracted or otherwise engaged by the lobbyist to carry out lobbying activities, and, if relevant, the date the person became a former senior government representative.
- The names of each of a lobbyist’s current clients.
- The names of clients for which the lobbyists has carried out a lobbying activity within 12 months before the lobbyist’s particulars were most recently updated.
If an element changes of the particulars making up a lobbyist’s registration, section 50 of the Integrity Act 2009 requires the lobbyist to submit written notice of the change within 10 business days of becoming aware of the change.
The Integrity Commissioner must update the Register of Lobbyists as soon as practicable. In practice, this is usually within two to three business days.
Yes. The Register of Lobbyists is available on-line to the public and can be accessed at http://lobbyists.integrity.qld.gov.au/who-is-on-the-register.aspx.
Section 41 of the Integrity Act 2009 defines a lobbyist as an entity that carries out a lobbying activity for a third party client or whose employees or contractors carry out a lobbying activity for a third party client.
However, section 41 specifically excludes from the definition:
- non-profit entities
- entities constituted to represent the interests of their members
- members of trade delegations visiting Queensland
- entities that carry out incidental lobbying activities and
- entities carrying out a lobbying activity only for the purpose of representing the entity’s own interests.
Also excluded are employees or contractors of, or people otherwise engaged by one of the entities already excluded, in relation to work carried out for the entity.
The section includes a definition for ‘non-profit entity’ and gives examples. ‘Incidental lobbying activities’ are also defined.
It should be noted that the definition of 'third party client' in section 41 of the Act was amended in December 2012 to state that the lobbyist in question must receive a payment or other reward for a client to be a 'third party client' under the Act.
A simple request for information would not normally amount to a lobbying activity, which is defined in the Act to mean a communication in an effort to influence a government decision.
However, a lobbyist seeking advice or opinion, for example, about the likely response of a government agency to a particular course of action proposed by a client may well be engaged in lobbying activities for the purposes of the Act.
Section 41(5) states that ‘incidental lobbying activities’ do not trigger the requirement for an entity to register as a lobbyist.
The Integrity Act provides the Integrity Commissioner with only a limited set of functions, such as registering or refusing registration as a lobbyist or issuing a warning to or suspending a registrant. The position does not have the power to decide whether lobbying activities are incidental or not.
The restrictions on lobbying contained in section 71 of the Act give to government or opposition representatives the responsibility of deciding if an entity is carrying out a lobbying activity, including an ‘incidental’ lobbying activity. If an entity is in doubt about its status, it should raise the matter with the government or opposition representative in question.
There is a more practical issue that entities may wish to consider. Section 71(2) states "a government or opposition representative must not knowingly permit an entity that is not a registered lobbyist" to carry out a lobbying activity with the government or opposition representative. Government or opposition representatives - particularly in the area of local government - are likely to be concerned that they do not breach this requirement.
They will also have to ensure that they observe procedural fairness.
Under section 44 of the Integrity Act 2009, each of the following people is a government representative—
- the Premier or another Minister
- a Parliamentary Secretary
- a councillor
- a public sector officer
- a ministerial staff member
- a parliamentary secretary staff member.
Under section 45 of the Integrity Act 2009, a person is a former senior government representative if the person was—
- the Premier or another Minister
- a Parliamentary Secretary
- a councillor
- a public sector officer employed as a chief executive, senior executive or senior executive equivalent
- a ministerial staff member
- a parliamentary secretary staff member
and is no longer a government representative.
In December 2012, a new section 47A was inserted in the Integrity Act. Section 47A defines Opposition representatives as being the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition and staff members in the office of the Leader.
In December 2012, a new section 47B was inserted in the Integrity Act. Section 47B defines a former Opposition representative as being a Leader or Deputy Leader of the Opposition or staff member in the office of the Leader who is no longer an Opposition representative and is not a government representative.
Under section 47 of the Integrity Act 2009, a public sector officer is the chief executive of or a person employed by one of the following entities:
- a department
- a public service office
- a registry or other administrative office of a court or tribunal
- a local government
- a corporate entity under the Local Government Act 2009
- the parliamentary service
- a government owned corporation
- an entity, prescribed by regulation, that is assisted by public funds.
Someone is a ‘senior executive equivalent’ if their total remuneration is equal to or more than the lowest level of the Public Service remuneration for a senior executive (SES) (Integrity Act 2009 section 45(a)(iv)).
To find the most recent employment conditions for Public Service SES staff view the 2009 Five Senior Executive Employment Conditions.
Note: ‘senior executive equivalent’ does not include ‘senior officers’ for purposes of section 45.
Under section 46 of the Integrity Act 2009, a councillor is a councillor of a local government within the meaning of the Local Government Act 2009, which specifically includes the mayor.
Professional lobbyists who act on behalf of a third party client who wish to lobby State or local government or opposition officials need to be registered before they contact a government or opposition representative for the purpose of lobbying activities.
For the purpose of the Register of Lobbyists, a professional lobbyist is an entity that carries out a lobbying activity for a third party client or whose employees or contractors carry out a lobbying activity for a third party client.
However, for these purposes, a lobbyist does not include—
• a non-profit entity, such as a charity, church, club or environmental protection society
• an entity that represents the interests of its members, such as employer groups, trade unions, and professional bodies
• a member of a trade delegation visiting Queensland
• an entity carrying out incidental lobbying activities or lobbying only to represent the entity’s interests.
An entity carries out ‘incidental lobbying activities’ if its lobbying activities are only occasional and incidental to providing professional or technical services, such as an architectural, engineering, legal or accountancy practice.
However, this is only true of professionals whose lobbying is a very minor part of their activities. Professionals who spend a significant amount of time engaged in lobbying activity must register.
You will need to submit certain business details and a statutory declaration for each person carrying out lobbying activities for your entity.
You can submit the application by post, e-mail, fax, or on-line.
View: How to register
18. Should a lobbyist entity register and list clients in Queensland if the entity is not lobbying Queensland State or local governments?
The Act applies purely to lobbying within Queensland.
A lobbyist who, for example, lobbies NSW and Victorian State or local governments must comply with the relevant legislation in those States, but need not register in Queensland.
Lobbyists who lobby state or local governments in both Queensland AND other States must register in Queensland, but need only to list clients for whom they lobby the Queensland State or local governments.
If a lobbyist’s only Queensland clients are pro bono clients that represent a particular non-profit representative group, such as a Chamber of Commerce, is the lobbyist required to register in Queensland?
No, 'lobbying activity' must involve a payment of a fee or other reward from a third party client (section 41(2)).
20. What is the timeframe for giving data about previous government employment? Who must give the information?
20(a) Section 49(3)(ii) states a lobbyist who is a former senior government representative must give the date on which the lobbyist ceased to be a senior government representative.
However, the Act does not appear to give the time-frame that this covers. Does ‘former senior government representative’ refer only to the two year period mentioned in section 70 or does it cover an indefinite period?
(a) The Act is silent as to the timeframe. Initially, this requirement serves to inform government representatives of the lobbyist's status with regard to lobbying in certain areas of interest if the lobbyist is still affected by requirements for the post-separation period.
20(b) Does section 49(3)(ii) relate only to positions as a senior government representative in the State of Queensland? Or is person who has held a similar position in other jurisdictions come within the scope this section?
(b) This requirement applies to positions held in Queensland and also Commonwealth positions in which the former senior government officer had official dealings in matters relevant to Queensland interests.
The Queensland Integrity Commissioner may refuse to register a person on the following grounds—
- The application includes a materially false or misleading representation or declaration.
- The entity or a proposed listed person has previously failed to comply with obligations under the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct or a requirement under chapter 4 of the Integrity Act 2009.
- There are other grounds that the Integrity Commissioner considers sufficient to refuse to register an applicant.
All individuals must provide statutory declarations with respect to their criminal history before they can be included on the Register of Lobbyists.
A lobbyist will be given reasons, and a chance to respond, before part or all of an application for registration is refused.
The Queensland Integrity Commissioner may cancel a lobbyist’s registration on the following grounds—
- the registrant was registered because of a materially false or misleading representation or declaration;
- the registrant or listed person has failed to comply with obligations under the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct or a requirement under chapter 4 of the Integrity Act 2009; or
- other grounds that the Integrity Commissioner considers sufficient to cancel a registration.
A registered lobbyist will be given reasons, and a chance to respond, before the registration is cancelled.The grounds mentioned as reasons for cancellation of a registration may also be grounds for issuing a warning or suspending a registrant’s registration.
23. What will happen if a lobbyist fails to confirm that his or her details are up to date as required under the Act?
To ensure the Register of Lobbyists remains current, section 51 of the Integrity Act 2009 requires lobbyists to confirm their details as listed on the register are up to date by 31 July annually. Lobbyists must also submit a new statutory declaration for each lobbyist.
A lobbyist who does not submit a new statutory declaration or confirm that his or her details are up to date by 31 July of any year may be removed from the register.
The Integrity Act does not contain avenues of appeal. The only avenue of appeal is to the Supreme Court for judicial review.
25. I am a registered lobbyist. How quickly can the Register be updated if I need to make representations urgently on behalf of a new client and I am unable to make the change via my user name and password?
Now that lobbyists are able to amend their own details, they can update the Register as soon as their circumstances change.
However, if a lobbyist finds him or herself without access to a computer, the Register of Lobbyists office will make the change on behalf of the lobbyist. Normally, the Register of Lobbyists will be updated within two to three business days of a request being made. If you need the register to be updated urgently, you should contact the office:
- email at firstname.lastname@example.org OR
- call (07) 3003 2887
The office will process the request as quickly as it can and advise you of the outcome by phone and email.
Under section 71(2) of the Integrity Act 2009, a government or opposition representative must not knowingly meet with an entity that is not a registered lobbyist if the entity intends to carry out a lobbying activity for a third party client.
Lobbyists are required to inform government or opposition representatives of their lobbyist status when initially seeking to meet with them.
While the onus is on the lobbyist to supply the required information, it would be prudent for a government or opposition representative to check that the details provided are correct by checking the register at www.integrity.qld.gov.au to confirm the person and the client in question are listed.
If a person seeking to carry out lobbying activities is not a registered lobbyist, the government or opposition representative must decline to have further contact with them.
Government or opposition representatives are also required to give the entity’s details to the Integrity Commissioner.
Lobbyists and government representatives working in the same location frequently find themselves attending the same functions.
Lobbyists who wish take advantage of the opportunity to lobby a government representative in such situations still must comply with the requirements of paragraph 3.2 of the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct. That is, they must confirm that they and their client are on the register and advise the nature of the matter they want to raise on behalf of their client.
Obviously, it will be impractical for government representatives to check the Register of Lobbyists when out of their office.
However, government representatives are entitled to accept statements by lobbyists that they and their clients are properly registered, particularly if the government representative has had previous dealings with the lobbyist in question.
On that basis, government representatives can participate in discussions with lobbyists about their clients’ affairs in those circumstances.
However, even if a lobbyist discharges his or her obligations under paragraph 3.2 of the Code, this does not give a lobbyist the right to lobby a government representative at any time. It remains a decision for the government representatives as to whether or not they will permit a lobbyist to lobby them on the particular issue the lobbyist wishes to discuss.
For example, government representatives who do not wish to participate in discussions with a lobbyist at a function outside the office should invite the lobbyist to make an appointment at another time.
All breaches of the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct should be reported to the Integrity Commissioner at—
Queensland Integrity Commissioner
PO Box 15290
CITY EAST QLD 4002
The Integrity Commissioner will consider any statement reporting an alleged breach of the code. If he considers that a breach has occurred and it is sufficiently serious to warrant that an action be taken, the Integrity Commissioner will advise the individual concerned of the reasons why it is proposed he or she be removed from the register and give the lobbyists an opportunity to respond. The Integrity Commissioner will take any response into consideration before making a decision.
29. What should I do if I become aware that a Government representative has been participating in lobbying activities with a lobbyist who is not on the register?
A government or opposition representative who knowingly and intentionally participates in lobbying activities with a person who is not on the register will have breached section 71 of the Integrity Act 2009.
Not only are government or opposition representatives not permitted to participate in lobbying activities with a person who is not on the register, they are also required to advise the Integrity Commissioner of the unregistered lobbyist’s details
Details of the breach should be reported to the Integrity Commissioner.
For the Integrity Commissioner’s course of action with regard to the lobbyist, see question 21. A breach of section 71 could result in action under the Criminal Code, section 204 (Disobedience to statute law)
30. How can I get further information on the Register or ask questions about the operation of the Register or the Act?
If you require further information, or wish to make a comment or ask a question about the register, the Act or the Code, please contact the office of the Queensland Integrity Commissioner at—
Queensland Integrity Commissioner
PO Box 15290
CITY EAST QLD 4002