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Long-awaited integrity review will put spotlight on lobbying industry

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk expects a report on the future role of the state’s Integrity Commissioner within six months.

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In parliament today, Palaszczuk announced Kevin Yearbury would undertake the five-year review to assess whether the Integrity Commissioner’s functions have been performed economically, effectively and efficiently.

Yearbury is a former bureaucrat, who was acting head of Palaszczuk’s department, and previously conducted a review of governance of the Public Service Commission.

“Mr Yearbury is highly qualified to undertake the review,” Palaszczuk said.

“On completion of the review, Mr Yearbury will provide me with a report that I will table in Parliament and that will be considered by the Parliamentary Committee.”

The review comes amid growing concern over the lobbying industry that facilitates corporate access to governments. The Integrity Commissioner, Nikola Stepanov, is required to oversee the industry in accordance with government rules.

The terms of reference ask Yearbury to consider “whether existing provisions are appropriate and effective in regulating contact between lobbyists and government and opposition representatives, including by former government and opposition representatives, having regard to public expectations of transparency and integrity”.

His review will also, pointedly, examine “whether specific investigative powers are required to effectively regulate lobbying activities,” after concerns were raised over an apparently lack of enforcement of the rules.

Tomorrow, the first national lobbying summit will be co-hosted by the Integrity Commissioner and the Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission.

CCC Chairperson Alan MacSporran QC said the summit would examine what a “best practice standard” might look like in terms of regulation and registration of lobbyists.

“We want to discuss whether current oversight regimes adequately reflect public concerns about the amount of influence lobbyists appear to have on our elected officials,” MacSporran said.

Stepanov has previously pointed to an increase in inquiries, and complaints, about lobbying.

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