NSW Premier Mike Baird says a quarterly diary summary of ministers’ external meetings will be released to improve transparency after lobbying allegations.
The Baird government has unveiled its first tranche of reforms to “clean up” politics in NSW.
Under the measures, ministers will have to publish diary summaries of scheduled meetings with lobbyists and the Electoral Commission will have its powers extended to act as an independent regulator of lobbyists.
The plan has been criticised as having too many loopholes for lobbyists to exploit.
But Premier Mike Baird says it’s an “important first step” and will nail shut the “back door to government”.
The plan is in response to revelations at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) about the access lobbyists have to NSW politicians.
“I’ve said from the moment I became premier that I wanted to clean up politics in NSW, and this is an important step forward,” Mr Baird told reporters.
“We do want to shine the light on the business of government.”
Under his plan, the independent regulator will be empowered to investigate alleged breaches and will be able to impose sanctions.
That could result in lobbying firms being removed from the lobbyist register.
Opposition Leader John Robertson said he was pleased to see the government taking some steps to improve transparency but the plan did not go far enough.
He said diaries should be published on a monthly basis rather than every three months, as Mr Baird proposed.
The plan also had loopholes for lawyers trying to gain access to politicians and it did not cover “chance meetings” with lobbyists.
Greens MP John Kaye said ministerial staff diaries should also be published.
He said under the proposed measures, ministers can arrange for their staff to meet lobbyists to avoid meetings being recorded in diaries.