On the eve of the Federal Government’s Register of Lobbyists coming into force, lobbying’s heavy hitters have finally signed on, with CPR, Gavin Anderson, Government Relations Australia and Hawker Britton all joining the register last week.

Labor-connected Hawker Britton wins the client p-ssing contest, signing up to represent 88 firms and individuals, including heavyweights such as Chinalco, Macquarie Group and Telstra. Government Relations Australia, with its top-drawer links with the Rudd Government, has 69 clients, CPR 52 and Gavin Anderson 37. The client lists reveal the less glamorous side of lobbying, with even the biggest firms happy to represent the likes of the Australian Bight Abalone Management (Hawker Britton), the Vegetable Industry Continuous Improvement Project (GRA) and the Stop the Drains Coalition (CPR).

Endeavour Consulting (former Labor hands Jeff Townsend and Paul Whalan and ex-Howard adviser Mark Baker) and Gavin Anderson have the resources sector more or less locked up between them, with Rio Tinto, ERA, Mega Uranium and Shell with the former and Alcoa, BHP and Queensland Energy Resources with the latter.

The register also suggests politics aren’t a good guide to a lobbyist’s client list. Former Democrat staffer Armon Hicks established Capitol Research in 1993 with partner and former Democrat Senator, and archaeologist, Karin Sowada and they now represent such clients as Bluescope Steel, Mars Snackfood, Lion Nathan and Santos.

Gary Nairn, now freed of the responsibility of representing Eden-Monaro, has also signed up, representing IT companies Qasco Surveys and Apt Business Solutions in their quest for government business. Under the new Ministerial Code of Conduct introduced by Labor, Nairn would’ve been blocked from touting for business in relation to his former responsibilities as Special Minister of State.

Con Sciacca (or “The Honourable Con Sciacca AO”) as he prefers to style himself, has been out of the game a bit longer, but has not merely taken on the cause of Manildra and ABC Learning but that of another massive political donor, property developer Buildev as well.

The Register has 91 entries and counting. There’s at least one notable absence – a prominent Liberal-aligned outfit. Maybe they’re leaving registration until the last minute.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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