The Rudd Government's Lobbyist Register celebrates its first birthday today and is in rude health. According to new figures from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009, there were 653 individual lobbyists operating in the corridors of Parliament. The list is growing at about 3-4 per week and shows no sign of slowing.
The Register was a major step forward for accountability that brought the Commonwealth into line with a growing number of states, as well as other countries such as Canada. But as Crikey noted at the time the Register was announced by then-Special Minister of State John Faulkner, it covers just a small part of the lobbying industry in Canberra. The register only requires so-called third party lobbyists to register themselves and their clients. All other lobbyists- such as industry or professional associations and non-government organisations - escape any level of scrutiny.