Regulating lobbyists in New Zealand
Lobbying is a vital aspect of democratic governance and is for the most part beneficial to society. However, recent high-profile instances of lobbying activity in New Zealand have damaged governmental integrity and appear to have diminished public confidence in government decision-making processes. The Lobbying Disclosure Bill was introduced to the New Zealand Parliament in 2012 in the hope that transparency mechanisms could dissuade harmful lobbying without impeding ordinary activity. The Bill was rejected at the select committee stage due to a number of drafting deficiencies. These shortcomings made the Bill difficult to implement, and imposed a disproportionate limit on a number of human rights. Despite these failings, it is both possible and desirable to regulate lobbying activity in New Zealand. Drawing from overseas experiences, this paper suggests modifications to the Lobbying Disclosure Bill which would discourage harmful lobbying while also mitigating the concerns raised by critics of the Bill.