And despite the register allowing a long list of reasons for why lobbying contact was taking place, the review found the “other” category was commonly selected, reducing the effectiveness of both the platform and overall transparency.
Its “outdated” technology also made it hard for both the Commissioner and lobbyists to use, with an upgrade considered high priority. “The review found that the Lobbyist Register is not fit-for-purpose,” Mr Yearbury said.
Following revelations two former Queensland ALP state secretaries-turned-lobbyists worked behind the scenes on Ms Palaszczuk’s 2020 election campaign, Dr Stepanov had told the ABC she would support a review of lobbying laws as part of the review.
Mr Yearbury said lobbying activity happening side-by-side with political party work must be declared in the register of contact to “provide a degree of transparency” around how conflicts of interest are being managed.
This was also addressed among the review’s 27 recommendations, in the form of an update to the lobbyists code of conduct to include a specific conflict of interest policy – also referenced in the ministerial code.
Others included the creation of an Office of the Integrity Commissioner with its own control of staffing within the Department of Premier and Cabinet to boost independence, alongside better delegation powers and stripping some administrative duties unrelated the role.
In a statement, Dr Stepanov said she was grateful for the timely chance to work with Mr Yearbury on the review and looked forward to helping departments develop their own expertise around ethics and integrity.
Tabling the report in Parliament on Thursday morning, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it would be referred to the economics and governance committee and her government would “thoroughly consider any recommendations” made by the body.
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