On 12 March the Queensland Integrity Commissioner approved the new Lobbyist Code of Conduct.
Under the Integrity Act 2009, the Integrity Commissioner was required to draft a new Lobbyist Code of Conduct in consultation with the public, lobbying industry and the parliamentary Integrity, Ethics and Parliamentary Privileges Committee.
All lobbyists in Queensland are now required to comply with the new Code of Conduct. If a lobbyist fails to comply with the new standards, the Integrity Commissioner may have grounds under the Integrity Act to refuse a lobbyists' application for registration or cancelling the lobbyist’s registration.
The new standards, extracted from the full code are listed (from section three of the code) below:
Standards of Conduct for Lobbyists
(3.1) Lobbyists shall observe the following principles when engaging with government representatives
(a) Lobbyists shall conduct their business to the highest professional and ethical standards, and in accordance with all relevant law and regulation with respect to lobbying.
(b) Lobbyists shall act with honesty, integrity and good faith and avoid conduct or practices likely to bring discredit upon themselves, government representatives, their employer or client.
(c) Lobbyists shall not engage in any conduct that is corrupt, dishonest, or illegal, or cause or threaten any detriment.
(d) Lobbyists shall use all reasonable endeavours to satisfy themselves of the truth and accuracy of all statements and information provided to parties whom they represent, the wider public, governments and agencies.
(e) If a material change in factual information that the lobbyist provided previously to a government representative causes the information to become inaccurate and the lobbyist believes the government representative may still be relying on the information, the lobbyist should provide accurate and updated information to the public official, as far as is practicable.
(f) Lobbyists shall not knowingly make misleading, exaggerated or extravagant claims about, or otherwise misrepresent, the nature or extent of their access to institutions of government or to political parties or to persons in those institutions.
(g) Lobbyists shall keep strictly separate from their duties and activities as lobbyists any personal activity or involvement on behalf of a political party.
(h) Lobbyists shall indicate to their client their obligations under the Integrity Act, and their obligation to adhere to the Lobbyists Code of Conduct.
(i) Lobbyists shall not divulge confidential information unless they have obtained the informed consent of their client, or disclosure is required by law.
(j) Lobbyists shall not represent conflicting or competing interests without the informed consent of those whose interests are involved.
(k) Lobbyists shall advise government representatives that they have informed their clients of any actual, potential or apparent conflict of interest, and obtained the informed consent of each client concerned before proceeding or continuing with the undertaking.
(l) Lobbyists shall not place government representatives in a conflict of interest by proposing or undertaking any action that would constitute an improper influence on a government representative.
(m) Lobbyists should inform themselves of the policies of the Queensland Government and local governments restricting the acceptance of gifts by officials.
3.2 When making an initial contact with a government representative about a particular issue on behalf of a third party for whom the lobbyist has provided paid or unpaid services, the lobbyist must inform the government representative that they are:
(a) a lobbyist currently listed on the register of registered lobbyists, or
(b) a listed person for a lobbyist who is currently on the register of registered lobbyists;
(c) that they are making the contact on behalf of a third party;
(d) the name of the third party;
(e) the nature of that third party's issue; and
(f) the reasons for the approach.
3.3 When making an initial contact with a government representative about a particular issue on behalf of a third party for whom the lobbyist has provided paid or unpaid services, a lobbyist who became a former senior government representative less than two years earlier must indicate:
(a) that they are a former senior government representative,
(b) when they became a former senior government representative, and
(c) that the matter is not a “related lobbying activity”, an activity prohibited under the Act.
3.4 Failure to comply with these standards of conduct may provide grounds under the Act for:
(a) refusing an application for registration as a lobbyist (s 55(b)) and
(b) cancelling a lobbyist’s registration (s 62(b)).
Link to the full Code of Conduct on the Integrity Commissioner’s site is here.