Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Labour scraps unions' exemption from bill

File Photo / Greg Bowker
File Photo / Greg Bowker

The Labour Party has announced it will no longer be seeking an exemption for trade unions from the Lobbying Disclosure Bill.

MP Ruth Dyson, who chairs the select committee considering the bill, told the Public Service Association today Labour had decided to drop that part of its proposed changes to the bill.

PSA secretary Brenda Pilott was making a submission on the bill and said it did not want any exemption to the bill.

The bill would establish a disclosure regime for people and groups paid to lobby MPs.

Labour attracted a lot of flak for seeking an exemption for lobbying by union on the basis that they were "less sinister" that professional lobbyists or corporates.

Ruth Dyson told the committee that Labour had decided to withdraw that part of its amendment.

Ms Pilott told the committee the PSA supported the principles of the bill but it favoured a light-handed approach.

It supported the bill's proposed register of lobbyists and a code of conduct to be overseen by the Auditor-General.

But it asked the committee to consider removing an exemption under the bill for senior public servants and to provide a "cooling off period" before public servants can become lobbyists.

Ms Pilott said the position of influence of senior public servants, and decisions around procurement, made them a target for lobbying activities and yet the bill excluded them.

- NZ Herald

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