How the Rise of the Lobbyist is Corrupting Australia's Democracy
The author argues that Australia has difficulty tackling issues such as climate change, growing inequality, tax avoidance, the national budget, the ageing population, productivity and asylum seekers because vested interests influence government in a disproportionate way.
He argues that the power of lobbyists is ‘a serious corruption of good governance and the development of sound public policy.’
He cites as evidence the influence the Minerals Council of Australia had over public discussion in relation to the Mining Super Profits Tax, the work of Clubs Australia to stop gambling reform, and major polluters' influence over emissions trading and carbon tax schemes.
Possible suggested solutions:
- Federal lobbyists should be required to disclose discussions and meetings with ministers, shadow ministers and senior public servants.
- Tax benefits should not be granted to think tanks which are secretly funded and act as fronts for vested interests.
- Government departments which are highly influenced by special interests should have different governance arrangements.
- No minister or senior government official should work with a vested interest group that they have been associated with for at least five years after retirement or resignation.
- Citizen Assemblies could counter powerful vested interests on key issues.
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