In the aftermath of Barry O’Farrell’s resignation as New South Wales premier over a forgotten bottle of Grange, both Prime Minister Tony Abbott and new Premier Mike Baird are cracking down on party officials acting as lobbyists. It’s a good move, one that future Labor governments should also consider.
Lobbying is endemic to politics. Most people who walk into a minister’s office are lobbying for some cause or another. Even the humble constituent who writes a letter to their MP is in one sense lobbying. Lobbying arrives from all conceivable policy perspectives and backgrounds. It is an essential part of parliamentarians becoming informed about opinion. Indeed, some MPs would have great difficulty ever delivering a speech without notes penned for them by an outside interest group.