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Submission to inquiry into Parliament House Lobbyists - Lobbyist controls: ‘toothless and opaque’ -
Flaws in system allowing powerful interests undue influence

8 Mar 2024

The system that governs lobbyists’ access to our Federal parliamentarians is toothless, opaque and excludes an estimated 80% of lobbyists in Canberra, according to the Alliance’s submission to the Inquiry into Access to Parliament House by Lobbyists.


The CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said she was concerned that powerful vested interests from the gambling industry, and their allies, were having “a growing and potentially insidious influence in the corridors of government”.


“There is clear evidence of the serious and unique risk posed by the disproportionate lobbying activity of the gambling industry,” Ms Bennett said.
“Documents obtained through FOI have shown the gambling industry has unleashed a closed-door blitz of high-pressured lobbying to debunk the reasonable and impactful reforms proposed by the federal parliamentary committee into the harm of online gambling currently being considered by the federal government.”


In its submission, the Alliance highlights that the Lobbying Code of Conduct and Register of Lobbyists administered by the Attorney-General’s Department is:


  • Toothless as it is voluntary and the sole penalty for breach of the code (such as engaging in corrupt or illegal behaviour) is potential removal from the register

  • Opaque as it includes little or no information on the lobbyist or who they meet with

  • Inadequate as it excludes 80% of ‘in-house’ lobbyists employed by interest groups or advocacy organisations.


Late last year the Alliance revealed the gambling industry hires the most lobbying firms across Australia - more than double that of any other harmful product industry.


The analysis was led by Melbourne University academic, Dr Jenn Lacy-Nichols, and jointly released by Transparency International Australia and the Alliance for Gambling Reform.


It revealed that the gambling industry has access to up to 280 lobbyists seeking to influence our Federal political leaders. The research also highlighted the appalling ‘revolving door’ that has seen at least seven Federal Ministers, senior advisors and even one Premier work in lobbying roles for the gambling sector.


In its submission, the Alliance said the Lobbying Code of Conduct should be enshrined in legislation and should include all forms of lobbying.


It further recommends that all transparency should be promoted through the publication of ministerial diaries and other relevant information. The Alliance also believes sanctions should be expanded and the post-employment separation between politicians and lobbyists should be expanded to five years and extended to all members of parliament.


Carol Bennett and Clancy Moore are available for interview.

Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704

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