Audrey Young

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

Speaker allows twice as many lobbyists to get free pass

The practice of issuing access cards to people who are frequently at Parliament to lobby for their organisation or client has been long-standing. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The practice of issuing access cards to people who are frequently at Parliament to lobby for their organisation or client has been long-standing. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The number of lobbyists approved for a free pass in Parliament by the Speaker has doubled in the past year.

Three former ministerial advisers are among those give easy-access cards in the past year: Air New Zealand's Phil de Joux, who used to be John Key's deputy chief of staff; Anadarko's Anita Ferguson, who was Steven Joyce's press secretary, and Fonterra's Nicola Willis, who was an adviser and speech-writer for Mr Key.

In all, an additional 13 lobbyists have been added to last year's list of 12, who are still approved.

The practice of issuing access cards to people who are frequently at Parliament to lobby for their organisation or client has been long-standing. But the approved list was published for the first time last year by former Speaker Sir Lockwood Smith amid discussion of the Lobbying Disclosure Bill in the name of Green MP Holly Walker.

The bill, setting up a register of lobbyists, is still before the Government Administration select committee and is due to be reported back to the House next month.

Speaker David Carter has decided to continue the practice of publishing approvals on his parliamentary website. The access card gives the recipients a security clearance meaning they do not have to be screened each time they visit Parliament and they can access the public areas of Parliament.

Several other frequent visitors, such as political party presidents and officials, have also been issued cards, as have pollsters David Farrar, Curia Market Research and David Talbot of UMR Research. Two former members of the Press Gallery are approved, former TVNZ reporter Leigh Pearson and former TV3 reporter Scott Campbell.

- NZ Herald

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