Frequently asked questions
These questions and answers do not form part of the Lobbying Code of Conduct - they have been prepared to provide guidance only.
1. Why has the Tasmanian Government established a Register of Lobbyists?
Respect for the institutions of government depends to a large extent on public confidence in the integrity of Ministers, their staff and senior government officials.
Ethical lobbying is a legitimate activity and an important part of the democratic process. Lobbyists can help individuals and organisations communicate their views on matters of public interest to the Government and, in doing so, improve outcomes for the community as a whole.
In performing this role, there is a public expectation that lobbying activities will be carried out ethically and transparently, and that Government representatives who are approached by lobbyists can establish whose interests they represent so that informed judgments can be made about the outcome they are seeking to achieve.
While some lobbyists work directly for a single client to advance the interests of that client, others lobby on behalf of a number of different clients. The Government believes it is important for Government representatives to know precisely who these lobbyists represent when they have dealings with them.
The Register of Lobbyists is a public document. It contains the following details about individuals, companies and organisations who lobby Government representatives on behalf of a client:
2. What is the Lobbying Code of Conduct and how does it relate to the Register of Lobbyists?
The Code of Conduct underpins the register by defining lobbyists, clients, Government representatives and lobbying activities. It sets out the requirements for contact between lobbyists and Government representatives and specifies what will be publicly available on the register and the conditions for the successful registration of lobbyists.
If you are a lobbyist or a Government representative who may be approached by a lobbyist, you should make yourself familiar with the Code of Conduct.
3. What is the definition of lobbyist?
A lobbyist is defined in clause 3 of the Code of Conduct to mean a person, company or organisation who conducts lobbying activities on behalf of a client or whose employees conduct lobbying activities on behalf of a client. These lobbyists are sometimes known as consultant lobbyists, or third party lobbyists.
The Code of Conduct does not apply to in-house lobbyists, such as government relations staff employed by companies to make representations to Government on behalf of the company that employs them, or staff employed in peak industry bodies or trade unions who make representations to Government on behalf of their industry or their members. These people are not required to register.
4. How do I decide if I need to register?
You need to register if you are engaged by a client to undertake lobbying activities. For example, if a charity or other non-profit organisation engages a lobbyist to make representations to the Government on its behalf, the lobbyist will need to register and list the charity or non-profit organisation as a client.
If a non-profit organisation is engaged by a company that is not a member of that organisation to make representations on behalf of the company to Government representatives then the non-profit charity would need to register and list the company as a client. The non-profit organisation is only exempt from the need to register as a lobbyist if its lobbying activities are confined to making representations on behalf of its own organisation or its members.
5. What are lobbying activities?
Lobbying activities are communications with a Government representative in an effort to influence Government decision-making, including the making or amendment of legislation, the development or amendment of a Government policy or program, the awarding of a Government contract or grant or the allocation of funding.
Lobbying activities do not include:
6. Is a simple request for publicly available information a lobbying activity?
A simple request for information would not normally amount to a lobbying activity, which is defined in the Code of Conduct [link to code] as communication in an effort to influence a Government decision. However, a lobbyist seeking advice or opinion, for example, about the likely response of a Government agency to a particular course of action proposed by a client, may well be engaged in lobbying activities for the purposes of the Code of Conduct.
Routine requests for information or contact with licensing or regulatory bodies on behalf of clients to clarify a client’s obligations under relevant legislation would not be regarded as a lobbying activity. If in doubt, contact the Department of Premier and Cabinet
7. What is the definition of a client?
A client of a lobbyist is an individual, association, organisation or business who has:
8. What is the definition of a Government representative?
Government representative means a Minister, a Parliamentary Secretary, a Member of Parliament of the political party (or parties) that constitute the Executive Government of the day, a person employed as a Ministerial adviser, or a Head of Agency appointed under the State Service Act 2000.
9. When do lobbyists need to be registered?
Lobbyists who are not on the register at 1 September 2009 will not be able to meet Government representatives in their capacity as a lobbyist until they have registered.
10. What does a lobbyist need to do before contacting a Government representative?
From 1 September 2009, lobbyists who wish to communicate with a Government representative about a client’s business must, when they contact a Government representative:
In the interests of transparency, it would be prudent for lobbyists to advise Government representatives if they are subject to any prohibition on their lobbying activities as set out in Clause 7 of the Code of Conduct [link to clause 7].
Government representatives will be able to check that lobbyists and their clients are properly registered before agreeing to meet them.
11. What does a Government representative need to do if approached by a lobbyist?
You can check that the lobbyist and client are registered by viewing the register. While the onus is on the lobbyist to supply the required information, it would be prudent to check that the details provided are correct, particularly if you have had no previous dealings with that lobbyist in relation to the particular client. If you have reason to believe the lobbyist is a former Minister or Head of Agency who is subject to the prohibition on lobbying activities in clause 7 of the Code of Conduct, it would be prudent to seek assurance from the lobbyist that the prohibition no longer applies.
If you are satisfied that the lobbyist and his or her client are properly listed on the Register of Lobbyists and the other requirements of clause 8(1)(e) of the Code of Conduct have been met, you can decide whether to participate in the lobbying activity.
There is no obligation to meet lobbyists. Being on the register does not give a lobbyist a greater right of access to Government representatives than any other person.
12. What if an approach is made at an informal occasion?
Lobbyists and Government representatives will frequently attend the same functions. Lobbyists wishing to engage in lobbying activities in such situations will need to comply with the requirements of clause 8(1)(e) of the Code of Conduct – that is, they will need to confirm that they and their client are on the register and advise the nature of the matter they want to raise on behalf of their client.
It will obviously be impractical for Government representatives to check the Register of Lobbyists if they are not in their office. However, Government representatives are entitled to accept statements by lobbyists that they, and their clients, are properly registered, particularly if they have had previous dealings with the lobbyist in question. On that basis, Government representatives would not be in breach of the Code of Conduct if they participated in discussions with lobbyists about their client’s affairs.
If the Government representative does not wish to participate in discussions with the lobbyist at a function outside the office, he or she can invite the lobbyist to make an appointment.
13. How do lobbyists become registered on the register?
A lobbyist can apply to be included on the register. To do so, go to the register your details page.
Each individual who engages in lobbying activities must complete a statutory declaration confirming the matters set out in clause 10.1 of the Lobbying Code of Conduct before he or she will be included on the Register. The original of each statutory declaration is required before registrations can be finalised. Copies or faxed versions will not be accepted.
Completed statutory declarations should be mailed to:
Register of Lobbyists
HOBART TAS 7001
In the initial registration period, the Department of Premier and Cabinet expects to finalise all applications for registration within 10 business days of receiving the original statutory declarations. The Department expects to finalise subsequent applications for registration within five business days of receipt of statutory declarations.
14. Will any applications for registration be refused?
The Secretary of the Department Premier and Cabinet cannot register as a lobbyist a person if he or she has been:
Individuals must provide statutory declarations in respect of these matters before they can be included on the register.
In addition, the Secretary of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet cannot register a lobbyist, a person who is an employee of a lobbyist or a contractor or person engaged by a lobbyist if the Premier directs the Secretary not to register the lobbyist or the individual. Before issuing such a direction to the Secretary, the Premier must give the individual concerned an opportunity to state why the proposed direction should not be issued.
15. Is the register publicly accessible?
16. What information is provided via the register?
The register provides:
17. How up to date is the information on the register?
Lobbyists are required to confirm that their details are up to date within 10 days of 30 June and 31 December each year. In addition, lobbyists are required to provide statutory declarations for all individuals employed, contracted or otherwise engaged by the lobbyist to carry out lobbying activities on behalf of a client within 10 business days of 30 June each year.
18. Who should a lobbyist nominate as the responsible officer in their application for registration?
The responsible officer is a key position for email communications between the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and the lobbyist. These communications will include advice that an application for registration has been received, advice that registration has been approved or not approved, ongoing quarterly reminders that lobbyists’ details must be confirmed as being up to date and other matters that might arise in connection with continuing registration.
In nominating a person as the responsible officer, it is in the interest of the entity to ensure that the person is at a level that he or she can deal with any communications from the Department as appropriate. In the event of a change to the responsible officer, the responsible officer’s details, including their email address, must be updated to ensure the entity continues to receive emails relating to the Register of Lobbyists.
19. What will happen if a lobbyist fails to confirm that his or her details are up to date as required by clauses 5.5 and 5.6 of the Code of Conduct [link to code]?
To ensure that information on the register is current, lobbyists must confirm that their details are up to date within 10 business days of 30 June and 31 December each year. Lobbyists must also provide new statutory declarations for each individual lobbyist who engages in lobbying activities within 10 business days of 30 June each year.
A lobbyist who does not confirm that his or her details are up to date within the period specified in clauses 5.5 and 5.6 may be removed from the register.
20. How do I report a breach of the Code of Conduct?
All breaches of the Lobbying Code of Conduct should be reported to:
The Secretary will investigate any statement reporting an alleged breach of the code. If he or she considers that a breach has occurred and that it is sufficiently serious to warrant the possible removal of the lobbyist from the register, the Secretary will advise the individual concerned of the reasons why it is proposed they be removed from the register and give the lobbyist an opportunity to respond. The Secretary will take any response into account before making his or her decision.
21. What should I do if I become aware that a Government representative has knowingly been a party to lobbying activities with a lobbyist who is not on the register?
A Government representative who knowingly and intentionally participates in lobbying activities with a person who is not on the register will have breached the Lobbying Code of Conduct, as would the lobbyist. Details of a breach should be reported to the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. In relation to an alleged breach of the code by the lobbyist, the Secretary will follow the course of action outlined in the previous question. The Secretary will refer an alleged breach of the code by a Government representative to the appropriate Parliamentary or Executive Government authority for consideration and appropriate action.
22. How can I get further information on the register or ask questions about the operation of the register or the application of the Code of Conduct?
If you require further information, wish to make a comment or ask a question about the register or the code, please contact the Department of Premier and Cabinet.