Lock the Gate calls on new NSW Premier to clean out the lobbyists

Published: April 17, 2014

The Lock the Gate Alliance has congratulated Mike Baird on becoming Premier of NSW, and called on him to immediately act on outstanding recommendations from the ICAC to clean up the systemic and corrupting influence of corporate lobbyists on policy.

Lock the Gate National Coordinator, Phil Laird, said the change in premier provided the perfect opportunity to put a broom through government and its dealings with lobbyists.

He said all of the recommendations of the of the 2010 ICAC report Investigation into corruption risks involved in lobbying should be implemented as a top priority for the new Baird Government.

"Mr Baird has become Premier under torrid circumstances, and in the midst of an going corruption inquiry that has a long way to run yet. If the Government treats this episode as trivial, or tries to pretend that this was about Barry O’Farrell, or bottles of wine, then the muck will keep spreading," Mr Laird said.

"The Government has yet to implement outstanding recommendations from the Independent Commission Against Corruption,” he said.

"As long ago as 2010, the Commission recommended that the code of conduct for lobbyists contain a clear statement prohibiting a lobbyist or a lobbyist’s client from offering, promising or giving any gift or other benefit to a Government Representative, who is being or is likely to be lobbied by them."

After the conclusion of Operations Jasper and Acacia last year, the ICAC again recommended that the NSW Government review the recommendations from this 2010 investigation into corruption risks involved in lobbying, and consider adopting the recommendations that apply to the state government’s lobbying regulatory regime, which have still not been implemented.

"We’ve known for some time that when it comes to the coal and gas industry, the Government and private companies are simply too close and the public interest suffers as a result. Water resources, food lands and public forests are being jeopardised or sacrificed in the interests of private companies, whose lobbyists have close access to politicians and the bureaucracy."

"We know that Mr Baird was a shareholding minister when Nick Di Girolamo was appointed a director of the State Water Corporation in June 2012. And we know that Mr Baird’s former chief of staff is now the head lobbyist for the coal industry. It is crucial that he comes clean immediately about his relationships with these men and how he intends to cauterise the influence of lobbyists in this state."

"The NSW community needs to see deep reform in this area. The ICAC’s recommendations need to be implemented, and the public interest put back into the centre of Government decision-making."

Further comment: Phil Laird on 0428 712 622

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