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Lobbying rules

NSW Lobbyists Code of Conduct

The Lobbying of Government Officials (Lobbyists Code of Conduct) Regulation 2014 prescribes ethical standards to all individuals and organisations who seek to influence government policy or decision making.

All lobbyists, whether third-party lobbyists or any other individual or body that lobbies Government officials (including an individual engaged to undertake lobbying for a third-party lobbyist) must comply with the requirements of the Lobbyists Code of Conduct.

A third-party lobbyist must disclose to NSW Government officials they lobby (before a meeting or a communication):

  • that they are a third-party lobbyist

  • the names of any individuals they have engaged to undertake the lobbying

  • the name of the individual or body whose interests the lobbyist is representing

  • details of foreign principals whose interests the lobbyist is representing, including their name and the foreign country or jurisdiction.

The term “foreign principal” for the purpose of NSW lobbying laws has the same meaning as in the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act 2018  of the Commonwealth, which establishes registration of persons undertaking certain activities on behalf of foreign governments and other foreign principals.

For the meaning of ‘foreign principal’, refer to the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act 2018 available in full on the Australian Government Legislation website or the Commonwealth Attorney General’s fact sheet on ‘foreign principals’.

A foreign principal includes, but is not limited to:

  • a foreign government

  • a foreign political organisation

  • a foreign government-related entity

  • a foreign government-related individual.

In addition, a third-party lobbyist or their employees:

  • must not lobby on a matter that relates to the functions of a NSW Government board or committee of which they or their employees are members

  • must not make exaggerated or misleading claims to their clients about the nature or extent of their access to political parties, the Government, or Government agencies or to persons associated with them

  • must keep separate from their lobbying activities any personal activity or involvement on behalf of a political party.

The NSW Electoral Commission has the function of enforcing compliance with the Lobbyists Code of Conduct and the Lobbying of Government Officials Act 2011. The NSW Electoral Commission’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy provides information about this function. 

Contraventions of the Code by any third-party or other lobbyist may result in the offender being placed on the Lobbyists watchlist or the suspension or cancellation of a registered third-party lobbyist.

A director, or a person concerned with the management of a corporation is personally liable for any contravention of the corporation against lobbying laws and the Lobbyist Code of Conduct, if the person knowingly authorised or permitted the contravention.

Other lobbying rules and offences

A registered third-party lobbyist is required to:

  • update the information in the register within 10 business days after a change occurs

  • submit a form to the NSW Electoral Commission on 31 January, 31 May and 30 September each year confirming that the information in the register is up-to-date.

It is an offence for a former Minister or former Parliamentary Secretary, who ceases to hold office, to engage in the lobbying of a Government Official in the 18 months period immediately after ceasing to hold office if:

  • the lobbying is in relation to an official matter that was dealt with by the Minister and Parliamentary Secretary, and

  • the official matter was dealt with during the 18 months period immediately before ceasing to hold office.

It is an offence to charge or to receive a fee that is contingent on the outcome of the lobbying of a NSW Government official (‘a success fee’). This offence applies to a person who gives, receives or agrees to give or receive success fees.

It is a criminal offence under the Crimes Act to knowingly provide false or misleading information or to knowingly produce documents that are false or misleading.