Albanese Government should stop selling out Australia’s democracy to lobbyists


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18 March 2024

A coalition of civil society organisations, which includes the Human Rights Law Centre and the Australian Democracy Network, are calling on the Albanese Government to overhaul lobbying laws and ensure our politicians are accountable to the people, not big industries.

In a submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Finance and Public Administration, the #OurDemocracy coalition called on the Albanese Government to:

  1. Include professional lobbyists in Federal Lobbyists Register, and require them to disclose their meetings;
  2. Require Ministers, Shadow Ministers and senior staff to publish their diaries;
  3. Strengthen enforcement of the Lobbyist Code of Conduct; and
  4. Stop the revolving door of Ministers entering industry jobs.

Harmful industries like gambling, fossil fuels, weapons and tobacco have exploited Australia’s weak laws for financial gain, and caused significant harm to the lives of people and communities. These reforms would bring Australia in line with some of the strongest lobbying transparency laws in the world, including Ireland, Canada and Scotland.

Alice Drury, Acting Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre said:
“Our current lobbying transparency laws are full of loopholes, and almost never enforced. Lobbying reform is needed now to protect Australian democracy from corruption and stop our elected representatives from prioritising industry interests over the wellbeing of our communities.

“Lobbying in Canberra is a highly professionalised, lucrative multi-billion dollar a year business, dominated by big industries like fossil fuels, gambling and alcohol. Voices representing community interests are far outnumbered. People in Australia are losing trust in government because they see that politicians are making important decisions based on who has the deepest pockets, rather than what benefits of our communities.

“Last election, the Australian people made it clear that integrity was a top priority for this Parliament. It has passed laws to create the National Anti-Corruption Commission – overhauling weak lobbying laws is the next frontier.”

Ray Yoshida, Campaigner at the Australian Democracy Network said:
“We welcome the current inquiry into access to parliament house. While lobbying is a legitimate part of representative democracy, the shady practices of political lobbying in Canberra are long overdue for serious reform. There are thousands of professional lobbyists, vastly outnumbering elected representatives, and it’s time for a strong and enforceable system of rules to govern them.

“In a fair democracy, voters should know who Ministers are meeting with when making important policy decisions. Over 50% of registered lobbyists have previously worked in government – it doesn’t pass the pub test to have influence over decision makers based on who you know.

“In addition to the submission from the Our Democracy Alliance, 350 community members made individual submissions to this inquiry. This grassroots participation demonstrates the broad interest that everyday Australians have in fixing our lobbying laws to make them fairer and more robust.”

Read our submission here

Journalists with enquiries should contact Isabella Morand.