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Lobbying Code of Conduct

Lobbyists
Publication date
Last updated
  1. Name


    This instrument is the Lobbying Code of Conduct.
  2. Commencement


    This Code commences at the start of 28 February 2022.
  3. Preamble

    1. 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.
    2. 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 individual and the community as a whole.
    3. 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.
    4. This Code is intended to promote trust in the integrity of government processes and ensure that contact between lobbyists and Government representatives is conducted in accordance with public expectations of transparency, integrity and honesty. Lobbyists and Government representatives are expected to comply with the requirements of this Code in accordance with the spirit, intention and purpose of this Code.
  4. Application

    1. This Code applies in conjunction with the Australian Government Statement of Ministerial Standards and other relevant codes and Australian laws.
      Note: A lobbyist may also have obligations under the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act 2018.
    2. This Code creates no obligation on the part of a Government representative to have contact with a particular lobbyist or lobbyists in general.
    3. This Code does not operate to restrict contact with Government representatives where the law requires a Government representative to take account of the views advanced by a person who may be a lobbyist.
    4. For the avoidance of doubt, this Code does not apply to any person, company or organisation, or the employees of such a person, company or organisation, engaging in lobbying activities on their own behalf rather than for a third party client.
      Note: The person, company or organisation and its employees must be recorded on the Register of Lobbyists if also engaging in lobbying activities on behalf of a third party client.
  5. Definitions

    1. In this Code:
      approved form means a form approved by the Secretary for the purposes of the provision in which the expression appears.
      business day means a day that is not a Saturday, a Sunday or a public holiday in the place concerned.
      client, in relation to a lobbyist or a person employed, contracted or engaged by a lobbyist, means a person, association, organisation or business who:
      1. has engaged the lobbyist or person on a retainer or other income to make representations to Government representatives; or
      2. has, in the previous three months, engaged the lobbyist or person to make representations to Government representatives, whether paid or unpaid.

      communications with a Government representative includes oral, written and electronic communications.
      Government representative means any of the following:
      1. a Minister;
      2. a Parliamentary Secretary;
      3. a person employed or engaged by a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984;
      4. an Agency Head or a person employed under the Public Service Act 1999;
      5. a person engaged as a contractor or consultant by an Australian Government agency whose staff are employed under the Public Service Act 1999;
      6. a member of the Australian Defence Force.

      lobbying activities means 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, but does not include any of the following:
      1. communications with a committee of the Parliament;
      2. communications with a person who is a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary in that person’s capacity as a local Member or Senator in relation to non ministerial responsibilities;
      3. communications in response to a call for submissions;
      4. petitions or communications of a grassroots campaign nature in an attempt to influence a Government policy or decision;
      5. communications in response to a request for tender;
      6. statements made in a public forum;
      7. responses to requests by Government representatives for information.
        Note: Organising a meeting may constitute lobbying activities if, in the course of arranging that meeting, representations of a kind referred to in this definition are made to Government representatives.

      lobbyist: see subsections (2) and (3).
      registration details means the information described under subsection 7(1).
      Secretary means the Secretary of the Attorney General’s Department.
      serious breach includes the following:
      1. a lobbyist or person who is not on the Register of Lobbyists engaging in lobbying activities with a Government representative;
      2. a lobbyist or person who is on the Register of Lobbyists failing to comply with the principles of engagement with Government representatives in section 12.
    2. A lobbyist means any person, company or organisation that conducts lobbying activities on behalf of a third party client or whose employees, contractors or persons otherwise engaged by the person, company or organisation conduct lobbying activities on behalf of a third party client.
    3. Despite subsection (2), a lobbyist does not include any of the following:
      1. charitable, religious and other organisations or funds that are endorsed as deductible gift recipients;
      2. non profit associations or organisations constituted to represent the interests of their members that are not endorsed as deductible gift recipients;
      3. persons making representations on behalf of relatives or friends about their personal affairs;
      4. members of trade delegations visiting Australia;
      5. persons who are registered under an Australian Government scheme regulating the activities of members of that profession, such as registered tax agents, customs brokers, company auditors and liquidators, provided that their dealings with Government representatives are part of the normal day to day work of people in that profession;
      6. members of professions, such as doctors, lawyers or accountants, and other service providers, who make occasional representations to Government on behalf of others in a way that is incidental to the provision to them of their professional or other services.
    4. To avoid doubt, if a significant or regular part of the services offered by a person employed or engaged by a firm of lawyers, doctors, accountants or other service providers involves lobbying activities on behalf of clients of that firm, the firm and the person offering those services must be included on the Register of Lobbyists.
  6. Obligations for Government representatives

    1. A Government representative must not knowingly and intentionally be a party to lobbying activities by:
      1. a lobbyist who is not on the Register of Lobbyists; or
      2. a person employed, contracted or engaged by a lobbyist to conduct lobbying activities whose name does not appear in the registration details noted on the Register of Lobbyists in connection with the lobbyist; or
      3. a lobbyist or person employed, contracted or engaged by a lobbyist who, in the opinion of the Government representative, has failed to observe any of the requirements of paragraph 12(e).
    2. A Government representative who becomes aware of a breach of this Code by a lobbyist or a person employed, contracted or engaged by a lobbyist must report details of the breach to the Secretary.
  7. Register of lobbyists

    1. The Secretary must establish and maintain a Register of Lobbyists that must contain the following information for each lobbyist:
      1. the business registration details, including trading names, of the lobbyist including, where the business is not a publicly listed company, the names of owners, partners or major shareholders, as applicable;
      2. the name and position of each person employed, contracted or engaged by the lobbyist to conduct lobbying activities;
      3. whether the lobbyist or a person referred to in paragraph (b) is a former Government representative, and if so, the following:
        1. the date the person became a former Government representative;
        2. the title of the most recent position the person held as a Government representative;
      4. subject to subsection (2), the names of clients on whose behalf the lobbyist, or persons employed, contracted or engaged by the lobbyist, conduct lobbying activities.
    2. A lobbyist is not required to list a body corporate as a client on the Register if disclosure of the lobbyist’s relationship with the body corporate might result in speculation about a pending transaction involving the body corporate, and that transaction has not previously been disclosed by the body corporate in accordance with its continuous disclosure obligations under Chapter 6CA of the Corporations Act 2001.
    3. If a lobbyist relies on subsection (2), the lobbyist must:
      1. advise any Government representative that the lobbyist (or a person employed, contracted or engaged by the lobbyist to conduct lobbying activities) is lobbying in reliance on that subsection; and
      2. advise any such Government representative of the anticipated date when the lobbyist will add the client to the Register; and
      3. add the name of the client to the Register promptly once the market sensitivity has passed.
    4. A lobbyist wishing to conduct (or to employ, contract or engage a person to conduct) lobbying activities with a Government representative must apply to the Secretary to have the lobbyist’s registration details recorded in the Register of Lobbyists.
      Note: An application must include a statutory declaration: see paragraph 10(1)(a).
  8. Access to the Register of Lobbyists


    The Register of Lobbyists must be a public document that is published on the website of the Attorney General’s Department.
  9. Reporting registration details

    1. A lobbyist must provide to the Secretary, within the period of 10 business days beginning 1 February of each year, confirmation that the lobbyist’s registration details are up to date.
    2. A lobbyist must provide to the Secretary, within the period of 10 business days beginning 1 July of each year, confirmation that the lobbyist’s registration details are up to date.
      Note: The lobbyist must also provide a statutory declaration: see paragraph 10(1)(b).
    3. A lobbyist must submit updated registration details to the Secretary in the event of any change to the registration details as soon as practicable and within 10 business days after the change occurs.
  10. Other reporting obligations

    1. A lobbyist and each person employed, contracted or engaged by the lobbyist to conduct lobbying activities must provide a statutory declaration mentioned in subsection (2):
      1. with the lobbyist’s application to have registration details included on the Register; and
      2. within the period of 10 business days beginning 1 July of each year.
    2. The statutory declaration must provide that the lobbyist or person:
      1. has never been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 30 months or more; and
      2. has not been convicted, as an adult, in the last ten years, of an offence, one element of which involves dishonesty, such as theft or fraud; and
      3. is not a member of a State or federal political party executive, State executive or administrative committee (or an equivalent body); and
      4. has not previously committed a serious breach of this Code.
        Note: Serious breach is defined in section 5.
    3. However, if the lobbyist or person has previously committed a serious breach of this Code, the statutory declaration must include details of any such breaches instead of the statement in paragraph (2)(d).
    4. A lobbyist or person must notify the Secretary in the event of any material change to the information provided in the most recent statutory declaration given by the lobbyist or person under subsection (1).
    5. The notification must be given as soon as practicable and within 10 business days after the change occurs.
    6. Despite subsection (1), a lobbyist or person may provide the information required under subsection (2) in the approved form if the Secretary is satisfied exceptional circumstances exist which would make it impracticable for the information to be provided in a statutory declaration.
  11. Prohibition on lobbying activities

    1. Persons who retire from office as a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary, must not, for a period of 18 months after they cease to hold office, engage in lobbying activities relating to any matter that they had official dealings with in their last 18 months in office.
    2. A person who was previously any of the following:
      1. a person employed in the Office of a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 at adviser level or above;
      2. a member of the Australian Defence Force at Colonel level or above (or equivalent);
      3. an agency Head or person employed under the Public Service Act 1999 in the Senior Executive Service (or equivalent);

      must not, for a period of 12 months after the person ceases such employment, engage in lobbying activities relating to any matter that the person had official dealings with in the person’s last 12 months of that employment.
  12. Principles of engagement with Government representatives


    A lobbyist or person listed on the Register of Lobbyists must observe the following principles when engaging with Government representatives:
    1. the lobbyist or person must not engage in any conduct that is corrupt, dishonest or illegal, or unlawfully cause or threaten any detriment to a person;
    2. the lobbyist or person must use all reasonable endeavours to satisfy themselves of the truth and accuracy of all statements and information provided by them to clients whom they represent, the wider public and Government representatives;
    3. the lobbyist or person must not make misleading, exaggerated or extravagant claims about, or otherwise misrepresent, the nature or extent of their access to Government representatives, members of political parties or to any other person;
    4. the lobbyist or person must keep strictly separate from their lobbying activities any personal activity or involvement on behalf of a political party (noting that there are certain limits on registration, see paragraph 10(2)(c));
    5. when making initial contact with a Government representative with the intention of conducting lobbying activities the lobbyist or person must inform the Government representative of the following:
      1. that they are a lobbyist or a person employed, contracted or engaged by a lobbyist;
      2. whether they are currently listed on the Register of Lobbyists;
      3. the name of each of their clients referred to in paragraph 7(1)(d) (including a client whose identity is not required to be made public under subsection 7(2)) on behalf of whom the lobbyist is conducting lobbying activities in relation to the Government representative;
      4. the nature of the matters that each such client wishes them to raise with the Government representative;
      5. if the lobbyist or person is prohibited from undertaking certain lobbying activities under section 11—the information included in the Register in relation to the lobbyist or person in accordance with paragraph 7(1)(c) and that the lobbyist or person complies with the prohibition in section 11.
  13. Limits on registration

    1. The Secretary must not include the name of a lobbyist or person on the Register of Lobbyists unless the lobbyist or person complies with section 10.
    2. The Secretary may decide not to register a lobbyist or person for a period of up to 3 months if, in the opinion of the Secretary, the lobbyist or person has, at any time after this Code commences, committed a serious breach of this Code.
    3. Before making a decision under subsection (2), the Secretary must:
      1. advise the lobbyist or person of the reasons why the Secretary proposes not to register the lobbyist or person on the Register; and
      2. give the lobbyist or person an opportunity to state why the proposed course of action should not be followed.
    4. The Secretary must not register a lobbyist or person if the Attorney-General, in the Attorney-General’s absolute discretion, directs the Secretary not to register the lobbyist or person.
    5. Before issuing a direction under subsection (4), the Attorney General must:
      1. advise the lobbyist or person of the reasons why the Attorney General proposes to issue the direction; and
      2. give the lobbyist or person an opportunity to state why the direction should not be issued.
  14. Removal from the Register

    1. The Secretary may remove a lobbyist or a person’s details from the Register of Lobbyists if, in the opinion of the Secretary:
      1. the lobbyist or person has committed a breach of this Code; or
      2. the details on the Register in relation to the lobbyist or person are inaccurate; or
      3. the lobbyist or person fails to answer questions within a reasonable period of time relating to the lobbyist’s or person’s details on the Register or the lobbyist’s or person’s lobbying activities (in particular questions relating to allegations of breaches of the Code) or provides inaccurate information in response to those questions; or
      4. the lobbyist’s registration details have not been confirmed in accordance with section 9; or
      5. the lobbyist or person fails to provide a statutory declaration in accordance with subsection 10(1); or
      6. the lobbyist or person fails to notify the Secretary in accordance with subsection 10(4) in the event of any material change to the information provided in the most recent statutory declaration given by the lobbyist or person under subsection 10(1).
    2. Before removing a lobbyist or person’s details from the Register under subsection (1), the Secretary must:
      1. advise the lobbyist or person of the reasons why the Secretary proposes to remove the lobbyist or person’s details from the Register; and
      2. give the lobbyist or person an opportunity to state why the proposed course of action should not be followed.
    3. The Secretary must remove a lobbyist or person’s details from the Register if the Attorney General, in the Attorney General’s absolute discretion, directs the Secretary to remove the lobbyist or person’s details from the Register.
    4. Before issuing a direction under subsection (3), the Attorney General must:
      1. advise the lobbyist or person of the reasons why the Attorney General proposes to issue the direction; and
      2. give the lobbyist or person an opportunity to state why the direction should not be issued.
  15. Things done under the previous Code

    1. If:
      1. a thing was done for a particular purpose under the Lobbying Code of Conduct as in force immediately before this instrument commenced; and
      2. the thing could be done for that purpose under this instrument; the thing has effect for the purposes of this instrument as if it had been done for that purpose under this instrument.
    2. Without limiting subsection (1), a reference in that subsection to a thing being done includes a reference to a notice, application or other instrument being given or made.

Contact details

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