Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Long time lobbyist lobbies against lobby law

Mark Unsworth. Photo / Supplied
Mark Unsworth. Photo / Supplied

One of the country's longest standing lobbyists says a bill which would force lobbyists to register and disclose their clients and meetings with Government ministers is not necessary in New Zealand.

Mark Unsworth, a partner of government relations firm Saunders Unsworth, said he was not against the proposals in a Green Party bill which will soon go before Parliament but did not believe it was necessary.

That bill would require lobbyists to register and subscribe to a "code of conduct" to be set by the Auditor General, with penalties if that code was breached.

Green MP Holly Walker said New Zealand's system was far less transparent than other countries such as Australia and the United States which led to concern about lobbyists wielding undue influence over Government policy.

Mr Unsworth said there was possibly some merit in proposals such as a register, provided there was not too much red tape. However, the lobbying industry in New Zealand was small compared to overseas. He rejected claims it was secretive.

The bill was drawn from the members' ballot last week, meaning it will now go before Parliament to be considered.

- NZ Herald

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