This investigation differs from the usual investigation conducted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (“the Commission”) in that it was not concerned with whether any particular individual had engaged in corrupt conduct.
Rather, the investigation examined the corruption risks involved in the lobbying of public authorities and officials. Its aim was to examine whether such relationships may allow, encourage or cause the occurrence of corrupt conduct or conduct connected with corrupt conduct, and to identify whether any laws governing any NSW public authority or public official should be changed. The Commission also examined whether any work methods, practices or procedures of any NSW public authority or public official could allow, encourage or cause the occurrence of corrupt conduct, and, if so, what changes should be made.
The Commission found that lobbying attracts widespread community perceptions of corruption, and involves a number of corruption risks. However, there was much evidence that demonstrated that, in general, professional lobbyists act ethically, and that lobbying, when done well, can enhance rather than detract from good decision-making by public officials.
A lack of transparency in the current lobbying regulatory system in NSW is a major corruption risk, and contributes significantly to public distrust. Those who lobby may
be entitled to private communications with the people that they lobby, but they are not entitled to secret communications. The public is entitled to know that lobbying is occurring, to ascertain who is involved, and, in the absence of any overriding public interest against disclosure, to know what occurred during the Lobbying Activity.
The primary aim of any lobbying regulatory system must be to improve transparency and address other corruption risks in a manner that is practical and not unnecessarily onerous, and one that does not unduly interfere with legitimate access to government decision-makers.