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Information for Lobbyists

What is lobbying

The Lobbying Code of Conduct (the code) defines lobbying activities as communications with Australian Government representatives in an effort to influence federal government decision-making.

This includes:

  • making or amendment of legislation
  • development or amendment of a government policy or program
  • awarding of a government contract or grant
  • allocation of funding.

If a person undertakes communications, in an effort to influence government decision-making on behalf of a third party, with people including a minister, an assistant minister, their staff or any person employed in the Australian Public Service, they must be registered before such communications take place.

This applies regardless of whether a person styles themselves as a lobbyist.

Certain activities are not considered lobbying activities under the code. These include:

  • communicating with a Parliamentary Committee
  • providing information in response to a request by a government representative
  • communicating with a minister in their capacity as a local member (see clause 3.4 of the code).

The code does not apply to lobbyists who make representations to government (or conduct lobbying activity) on behalf of their employer (‘in-house’ lobbyists), as these representations are considered sufficiently transparent.

Who must register

Lobbying is a legitimate activity and an important part of the democratic process.

Lobbyists can help individuals and organisations to communicate their views on matters of public importance to the Australian Government. In doing so, they can help to improve outcomes for the individual and the community as a whole.

It is important that Australian Government representatives know whose interests lobbyists are representing.

Any person who acts on behalf of third-party clients for the purpose of lobbying Australian Government representatives must register and comply with the requirements of the code.

Exemptions

The following people and groups are excluded from the code’s definition of a ‘lobbyist’:

  • charities and religious organisations
  • non-profit organisations and associations
  • individuals making representations on behalf of relatives or friends
  • members of foreign trade delegations
  • people already registered under a Commonwealth scheme regulating certain professions (such as tax agents and customs brokers) who make representations to the government on behalf of clients
  • service providers (such as lawyers, doctors, accountants and other service providers) who make occasional representations to the government on behalf of clients in a way that is incidental to the provision of their professional services.

In-house lobbyists

In some cases employees will undertake lobbying activities for the organisation which directly employs them. These are known as 'in-house' lobbyists.

The code does not apply to ‘in-house’ lobbyists. This is because the interests that these lobbyists represent will be evident to Australian Government representatives.

Your obligations

Principles of engagement

Under clause 8 of the code, you must observe the following 5 principles when engaging with Australian Government representatives:

  • Use truthful and accurate statements
  • No corrupt, dishonest, illegal or unlawful conduct
  • Do not make misleading or exaggerated claims
  • Keep lobbying activity and personal activity on behalf of a political party separate
  • Always make clear that you are a registered lobbyist representing a client and the reason for the meeting

In practice this means that you must:

  • Apply to be included on the register, including providing a statutory declaration, details of your organisation’s ownership and third party clients.
  • Comply with all obligations under the code when engaging with Australian Government representatives.
  • Update registration details twice-yearly, within 10 business days of 31 January and 30 June each year.
  • Between twice-yearly updates to registration details, update any changes as soon as practicable and within 10 business days.

How to register

If you are acting on behalf of third-party clients, whether paid or unpaid, for the purpose of lobbying Australian Government representatives you must be registered and comply with the requirements of the code.

Complete a registration through the register portal.

We will generally process applications within 5 working days after receiving the necessary documentation, including a statutory declaration.

Updating your details

Under the code, you must make sure you keep your details on the register up to date.

If there is a change to your details (for example, you take on a new client), you must submit updated details as soon as practicable. This must be no more than 10 business days after the change occurs.

Under clauses 5.5 and 5.6 of the code you must also confirm or update your details within 10 business days of 31 January and 30 June each year.

As part of the annual 30 June update, you must submit a new statutory declaration (giving effect to clause 10.1 of the code).

If you do not meet these requirements you may be removed from the register.

To update your details, contact the responsible officer within your organisation.

If you are the responsible officer for your organisation, sign in to your account and complete the relevant sections.

Statutory declarations

Anyone who lobbies Australian Government representatives on behalf of third-party clients must provide a statutory declaration.

Under clause 10.1 of the code, this statutory declaration must declare that the lobbyist:

  • has never been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 30 months or more
  • has not been convicted, as an adult, in the last 10 years, of an offence, one element of which involves dishonesty, such as theft or fraud
  • is not a member of a state or federal political party executive, state executive or administrative committee (or the equivalent body).

A template statutory declaration is available when adding a lobbyist on the register portal. Completed statutory declaration(s) should also be uploaded and submitted using the register portal.

Make sure all sections of the statutory declaration form are completed and that the declaration is witnessed by an appropriately qualified person.

Incomplete statutory declarations may delay the registration process.

Find out more about statutory declarations including how to complete one and who can witness it.

Prohibition on lobbying

Under the code, people who retire from office as a minister or a parliamentary secretary (assistant minister) are prohibited from engaging in lobbying activities relating to any matter that they had official dealings with in their last 18 months in office, for a period of 18 months after they cease to hold office.

The following people are prohibited from engaging in lobbying activities relating to any matter that they had official dealings with in their last 12 months of employment, for a period of 12 months after they cease their employment:

  • those employed in the offices of ministers or parliamentary secretaries under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 at adviser-level and above
  • members of the Australian Defence Force at colonel-level or above (or equivalent)
  • agency heads or persons employed under the Public Service Act 1999 in the Senior Executive Service (or equivalent).

Exemption from listing clients

Under the code, you may be exempt from listing a client on the register if disclosing the relationship could result in speculation about a pending transaction that has not previously been disclosed.

If you rely on this exemption you must advise any Australian Government representative that you are lobbying of this fact and let them know when you anticipate adding the client to the register.

Get more information

To find out more about the Lobbying Code of Conduct and the register, read our factsheets:

You can also contact us directly:

  • Email: lobbyistsregister@ag.gov.au 
  • Call: 02 6141 2666 (weekdays 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm AEST)
  • International call: +61 2 6141 2666 (weekdays 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm AEST)