The recent announcement by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins around lobbying in Parliament is a positive step towards greater transparency of our elected officials. However, The Opportunities Party believes the proposed changes don't go far enough.
The changes include a review of policy options for lobbying regulations, removing swipe card access in Parliament for lobbyists, encouraging third party lobbyists to establish a voluntary code of conduct and a refreshed Cabinet Manual to be released later this month.
Leader of The Opportunities Party, Raf Manji commends the Prime Minister for launching a review into lobbying regulations, but is disappointed that official advice won't be received until next year. "With an election in five months, the public deserves to have confidence now that corporate interests won't influence political decision making. They shouldn't have to wait until next year."
Manji also supports the move to remove swipe card access for lobbyists, but believes the Government needs to go further. "The larger issue of how wealthy individuals and corporations can use their resources to gain privileged access to politicians and influence policy has not been resolved."
The Opportunities Party continues to call for an independent investigation into the actions of former Cabinet Minister Stuart Nash, and the creation of an independent Anti-Corruption Commission.
Nash's email exchange with previous donors was brought to the attention of the Prime Minister's Office over two years ago, but no action was taken until it recently became public knowledge. Manji believes that this is a clear indication that the current system of self-regulation and self-policing by Government and Cabinet officials simply doesn't work.
The Opportunities Party is committed to strengthening our democracy through greater oversight of political donations and tighter regulations around corporate lobbying, including a register for lobbyists and a lobbying stand down period.
"We need a political system that truly represents the interests of all New Zealanders, not just those with corporate interests. The public deserves to have greater accountability and transparency of their elected officials."