Image for Llewellyn’s back ... as a lobbyist

After over two decades as a member of Parliament, David Llewellyn is embarking on a new career as a lobbyist.

On August 30 Llewellyn, who was defeated at the March 2010 election, registered with the Tasmanian Department of Premier and Cabinet as a lobbyist. But there’s a hitch: Llewellyn currently has no paying clients.

Llewellyn told Tasmanian Times that he registered so that there would be no controversy if he raised issues with government agencies or Ministers on a pro-bono basis for former constituents. But he also hopes to represent paying clients. While there have been several inquiries, he said, paid lobbying work “has not eventuated at this point of time.”

The Lobbying Code of Conduct adopted by the Bartlett government in 2009 - which mimics provisions from other earlier state lobbying codes - states that “a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary, shall not, for a period of 12 months after they cease to hold office, engage in lobbying activities relating to any matter that they had official dealings with in their last 12 months in office.” From September 2008 until his defeat, Llewellyn was Minister for Planning, Primary Industry and Water, and Minister for Energy and Resources. The Tasmanian Department of Premier and Cabinet, which administers the code, interprets “official dealings” as relating solely to the former Ministers specific portfolio areas.

But after March 2011 Llewellyn is free to take on anyone as clients.

For much of his career, Llewellyn served as a Minister in the governments led by Michael Field, Jim Bacon, Paul Lennon and David Bartlett. In the ill-fated minority Field government (1989-92), Llewellyn served as Minister for Primary Industry and Forests, which collapsed over Labor’s determination to pursue ‘resource security’ legislation for the forestry industry against the wishes of their coalition partners the Greens. He also served later on under Field as Minister for Police and Emergency Services.

According to a biographical profile on Antony Green’s ABC blog, in the first Bacon government Llewellyn was appointed as Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment and Minister for Police and Public Safety. After Bacon’s 2002 election win, Llewellyn was once more back in the Ministry, but this time as the Minister for Health and Human Services and the Minister for Police and Public Safety. After the resignation of Jim Bacon in March 2004, Lwlellyen was elected as Deputy-Premier to Paul Lennon a position he held until just after the 2006 election. Llewellyn was appointed as Attorney General and Minister for Justice and Resources for the first three-quarters of 2008.

The phenomena of former Ministers becoming lobbyists is common. Earlier this year the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in New South Wales raised the question of what restrictions, if any, should apply to former Ministers and ministerial advisers who become lobbyists. In a discussion paper ICAC noted (see page 23) that “of the 272 individuals listed on the NSW register in February 2010, 49% have a background in politics, either as MPs or, more commonly, as ministerial staffers or advisers.”

ICAC also noted that the restrictions imposed on former Ministers varied around Australia. In New South Wales former members of parliament or Ministers are only required to consult the Parliamentary Ethics Advisor if they seek to undertake lobbying work within the first year after leaving office. In South Australia the Ministerial Code of Conduct prevents former Ministers from working for anyone they had dealings with in their last 12 months in office with similar provisions replicated in the South Australian Government’s Professional Lobbyist Code. In Victoria, the Professional Lobbyist Code of Conduct opts for an 18 month long restriction on former ministers engaging on lobbying related to their former portfolio areas while the Integrity Act 2009 in Queensland imposes a two year long ban. In Canada, a five year ban on former Ministers lobbying is the standard.

When Deputy Premier Lara Giddings announced the Lobbying Code of Conduct in August 2009 she stated that it “will be reviewed by the Integrity Commission once that body is established.”

Will Llewellyn seek to morph from lobbyist to political candidate at the next state election? If, as proposed, the current 25 seat House of Assembly is expanded to 35 seats, Llwellyen would be likely to be elected if he is pre-selected by the Labor Party. Llwellyen chuckled at the question but said he would consider that “closer to the next election.”

Earlier on Tasmanian Times:

* Bob Burton Tasmanian Labor’s UltraLite Lobbying Code