Victorian Public Sector Commissioner

Register of Lobbyists

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Questions and answers for Victorian Register of Lobbyists


The following questions and answers are intended to help lobbyists and Government Representatives understand their obligations under the Code of Conduct (PDF, 96KB) and the operation of the Register of Lobbyists. The questions and answers do not form part of the Code itself. However, they serve to illustrate the application of the Code in certain circumstances.

  1. Why has the Victorian Government established a Register of Lobbyists?
  2. What is the Lobbying Code of Conduct and how does it relate to the Register of Lobbyists?
  3. What is the definition of lobbyist?
  4. Who is excluded from the definition of a lobbyist?
  5. Do I need to register?
  6. What are lobbying activities?
  7. What is the definition of a client?
  8. What is the definition of a Government Representative?
  9. By what date will lobbyists need to be registered?
  10. What does a lobbyist need to do before contacting a Government representative?
  11. What does a Government Representative need to do if approached by a lobbyist?
  12. What if an approach is made at an informal occasion?
  13. How do lobbyists become registered on the Register?
  14. Will any applications for registration be refused?
  15. Is the Register publicly accessible?
  16. How up to date must the information on the Register be?
  17. How quickly can the Register be updated if I need to make representations urgently on behalf of a new client?
  18. Who should a lobbyist nominate as the responsible officer in their application for registration?
  19. What will happen if a lobbyist fails to confirm that his or her details are up to date as required by clauses 5.3, 5.4 and 5.5 of the Code?
  20. What should I do if I become aware of parties subject to the code not adhering to the code?
  21. How can I get further information on the Register or ask questions about the operation of the Register or the Code?
  22. I am currently a Minister/Cabinet Secretary/Parliamentary Secretary, can I work as a lobbyist after I leave office?
  23. I am currently working as Executive in the VPS / Ministerial Staff Member, can I work as a lobbyist after I leave employment?


1. Why has the Victorian Government established a Register of Lobbyists?

Lobbyists assist individuals and organisations with advice on public policy processes and facilitate contact with relevant Government Representatives.

In performing this role, lobbyists have a duty to act ethically, transparently, according to the highest standards of professional conduct and in accordance with probity requirements.

The Victorian Government has established the Victorian Government Professional Lobbyist Code of Conduct (PDF, 96KB) and the Register of Lobbyists, to ensure that contact between lobbyists and Government Representatives is conducted in accordance with public expectations of transparency, integrity and honesty.


2. What is the Lobbying Code of Conduct and how does it relate to the Register of Lobbyists?

The Code of Conduct (PDF, 96KB) underpins the Register by defining lobbyists, clients, Government representatives and lobbying activities. It sets out the requirements for contact between lobbyists and Government representatives and indicates what will be publicly available on the register and the conditions for successful registration of lobbyists. A copy of the Code can be downloaded from this website.

If you are a lobbyist or a Government Representative who may be approached by a lobbyist, you should download the lobbying Code of Conduct (PDF, 96KB) and read it.

The Register of Lobbyists is a web-based public document that lists the lobbyists' details, including their clients.


3. What is the definition of lobbyist?

A 'lobbyist' is defined in clause 3 of the Code to mean any person, company or organisation who conducts lobbying activities on behalf of a third party client or whose employees conduct lobbying activities on behalf of a third party client.

These lobbyists are sometimes known as consultant lobbyists, or third party lobbyists.

The definition of 'lobbying activities' is at question 6 below.


4. Who is excluded from the definition of a lobbyist?

A lobbyist does not include any person, company or organisation engaging in lobbying activities on their own behalf rather than for a client.

The following are not defined as a lobbyist under the code:

  • (a) charitable, religious and other organisations or funds that are endorsed as deductible gift recipients
  • (b) non-profit associations or organisations constituted to represent the interests of their members that are not endorsed as deductible gift recipients
  • (c) individuals making representations on behalf of relatives or friends about their personal affairs
  • (d) members of trade delegations visiting
  • (e) persons who are registered under an Australian Government scheme regulating the activities of members of that profession, such as registered tax agents, customs brokers, company auditors and liquidators, provided that their dealings with Government representatives are part of the normal day to day work of people in that profession
  • (f) members of professions, such as doctors, lawyers or accountants, and other service providers, who make occasional representations to Government on behalf of others in a way that is incidental to the provision by them of their professional or other service. However, if a significant or regular part of the services offered by an person employed or engaged by a firm of lawyers, doctors, accountants or other service providers involves lobbying activities on behalf of clients of that firm, the firm offering those services must register and identify the clients for whom they carry out lobbying activities, and
  • (g) representatives of other Governments, or Government agencies or Inquiries.

5. Do I need to register?

If you meet the definition of a lobbyist, you will need to register. If you are excluded from the definition of a lobbyist, you do not need to register. If you are not sure after reading the definitions, please contact the Registrar at lobbyistsregister@vpsc.vic.gov.au or phone (03) 9651 5450.


6. What are lobbying activities?

'Lobbying activities' means communications (defined in clause 4.2 of the Code of Conduct (PDF, 96KB)) with a Government Representative in an effort to influence Government decision-making, including the making or amendment of legislation, the development or amendment of a Government policy or program, the awarding of a Government contract or grant or the allocation of funding, but does not include:

  • (a) communications with a committee of the Parliament
  • (b) communications with a Minister, Cabinet Secretary or Parliamentary Secretary in his or her capacity as a local Member in relation to non-ministerial responsibilities
  • (c) communications in response to a call for submissions
  • (d) petitions or communications of a grassroots campaign nature in an attempt to influence a Government policy or decision
  • (e) communications in response to a request for tender
  • (f) statements made in a public forum, or
  • (g) responses to requests by Government Representatives for information.

7. What is the definition of a client?

A 'client' is a third party (individual, association, organisation or business) for whom the Lobbyist is currently retained to provide paid or unpaid services as a Lobbyist; and third parties for whom the Lobbyist has provided paid or unpaid services as a Lobbyist during the previous twelve months.


8. What is the definition of a Government Representative?

'Government Representative' means a Minister, Cabinet Secretary, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministerial Staff Member or person employed, contracted or engaged by a public sector agency.


9. By what date will lobbyists need to be registered?

The registration requirement commenced on 1 December 2009.

From 1 December 2009 lobbyists who are not on the Register are not able to communicate with Government Representatives in their capacity as a lobbyist until they have registered.


10. What does a lobbyist need to do before contacting a Government representative?

When making an initial contact with a Government Representative about a particular issue on behalf of a third party for whom the lobbyist has provided paid or unpaid services, the lobbyist must inform the Government Representative:

  • (a) that they are a lobbyist or employee, contractor or person otherwise engaged by the lobbyist;
  • (b) whether they are currently listed on the Register of Lobbyists;
  • (c) that they are making the contact on behalf of a third party or parties;
  • (d) the name of the third party or parties;
  • (e) the nature of the third party's issue; and
  • (f) whether they also act for any other third party which is currently involved in a Government tender process.

11. What does a Government Representative need to do if approached by a lobbyist?

A Government Representative shall not at any time knowingly and intentionally be a party to lobbying activity by:

  • (a) a lobbyist who is not on the Register of Lobbyists;
  • (b) any employee, contractor or person engaged by a Lobbyist to carry out lobbying activities whose name does not appear in the Lobbyist's Details noted on the Register of Lobbyists in connection with the lobbyist;
  • (c) any lobbyist or employee, contractor or person engaged by a lobbyist to carry out lobbying activities who, in the opinion of the Government Representative, has failed to observe any of the requirements of clause 4.3 in the Code.

You can check that the lobbyist and client are listed on the Register by accessing the Register at http://www.lobbyistsregister.vic.gov.au. While the onus is on the lobbyist to supply the required information, it would be prudent for a Government Representative to check that the details provided are correct, particularly if you have had no previous dealings with that lobbyist in relation to the particular client. If you have reason to believe that the lobbyist is a former Minister or public servant who is subject to the prohibition on lobbying activities in clause 7 of the Code, it would be prudent to seek an assurance from the lobbyist that the prohibition no longer applies.

If you are satisfied that the lobbyist and his or her client are properly listed on the Register of Lobbyists and the other requirements of clause 4.3 of the Code have been met, you can decide whether to participate in the lobbying activity.

There is no obligation to meet lobbyists. Being on the Register does not give a lobbyist a greater right of access to Government Representatives than any other person.


12. What if an approach is made at an informal occasion?

Lobbyists and Government representatives will frequently attend the same functions. Lobbyists wishing to engage in lobbying activities in such situations will need to comply with the requirements of clause 4.3 of the Code - that is, they will need to confirm that they and their client are on the Register and advise the nature of the matter they want to raise on behalf of their client.

It may be impractical for Government Representatives to check the Register of Lobbyists if they are not in their office. However, Government Representatives are entitled to accept statements by lobbyists that they and their clients are properly registered, particularly if they have had previous dealings with the lobbyist in question. On that basis, Government Representatives would not be in breach of the Code if they participated in discussions with lobbyists about their client's affairs.

If the Government Representative does not wish to participate in discussions with the lobbyist at a function outside the office, he or she can invite the lobbyist to make an appointment.


13. How do lobbyists become registered on the Register?

A lobbyist can apply online to be included on the Register. To do so, go to the website http://www.lobbyistsregister.vic.gov.au, click on 'How to Register' and then select the link to the online registration form.

Each individual who engages in lobbying activities must complete a statutory declaration confirming the matters set out in clause 9.1 of the Lobbying Code of Conduct (PDF, 96KB) before he or she will be included on the Register. The originals of each statutory declaration is required before registrations can be finalised. Copies or faxed versions will not be accepted.

Completed statutory declarations should be mailed to:

Register of Lobbyists,
Victorian Public Sector Commission,
3 Treasury Place,
MELBOURNE VIC 3002

DX 210753

The Victorian Public Sector Commission (VPSC) will accept any state or territory statutory declaration, noting orginals must be sent in.


14. Will any applications for registration be refused?

The Victorian Public Sector Commissioner will not register as a lobbyist a person if he or she:

  • (a) has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 30 months or more, or
  • (b) has been convicted, as an adult, in the last ten years, of an offence, one element of which involves dishonesty, such as theft or fraud.
  • (c) has accepted success fees as defined in Clause 3 of the Code of Conduct.

The Victorian Public Sector Commissioner may at his or her discretion:

  • 1)  refuse an application to be placed on the Register of Lobbyists including any particular employee, contractor or person otherwise engaged; and
  • 2)  remove from the Register of Lobbyists a lobbyist, or any particular employee, contractor or person otherwise engaged by a lobbyist if, in the opinion of the Victorian Public Sector Commissioner,
    • (a) any prior or current conduct of the lobbyist or his or her employee, contractor or person otherwise engaged to provide lobbying services for the Lobbyist has contravened any of the terms of the Code; or
    • (b) any prior or current conduct of the lobbyist or association of the lobbyist with another person or organisation is considered to be inconsistent with general standards of ethical conduct; or
    • (c) the registration details of the lobbyist are
      • I. inaccurate; or
      • II. not confirmed in accordance with the requirements of clause 5.4; or
    • (d) there are other reasonable grounds for doing so.

15. Is the Register publicly accessible?

Yes, the Register is available online at http://www.lobbyistsregister.vic.gov.au or through the 'Register of Lobbyists' link on the Victorian Public Sector Commission website at http://www.vpsc.vic.gov.au. The Register will display the following information:

  • (a) the business registration details of the lobbyist, including names of owners, partners or major shareholders (as applicable);
  • (b) the names and positions of all persons employed, contracted or otherwise engaged by the lobbyist to carry out lobbying activities;
  • (c) the names of third parties for whom the lobbyist is currently retained to provide paid or unpaid services as a lobbyist; and
  • (d) the names of persons for whom the lobbyist has provided paid or unpaid services as a lobbyist during the previous twelve months.
  • (e) The senior most position held and the year ceased as defined under Clause 5.1.(e) of the Code of Conduct.

16. How up to date must the information on the Register be?

Lobbyists are required to:

  • update their details as they change; and
  • re-register annually.

The date that a lobbyist's details were last updated is listed on the Register.


17. How quickly can the Register be updated if I need to make representations urgently on behalf of a new client?

Requests to update your client information can be submitted using the online registration system. In the normal course of events, the Register will be updated within two business days of the request being made. However, if the Register needs to be updated urgently, you should advise the VPSC by email (lobbyistsregister@vpsc.vic.gov.au) and phone (03 9651 5450). The VPSC will expedite the processing of the request and advise you of the outcome by email.


18. Who should a lobbyist nominate as the responsible officer in their application for registration?

The responsible officer is a key position for email communications between the VPSC and the lobbyist. These communications will include advice that an application for registration has been received, advice that registration has been approved or not approved, ongoing reminders that lobbyists' details must be confirmed as being up to date and other matters that might arise in connection with continuing registration.

In nominating a person as the responsible officer, it is in your interest to ensure that the person is at a level that he or she can deal with any communications from the VPSC as appropriate. In the event of a change to the responsible officer, you will need to update their details, including their email address, to ensure that you continue to receive emails relating to the Register of Lobbyists.


19. What will happen if a lobbyist fails to confirm that his or her details are up to date as required by clauses 5.3, 5.4 and 5.5 of the Code?

To ensure that the information on the Register is current, lobbyists must confirm that their details are up to date within 10 business days of 30 June each year. Lobbyists must also provide new statutory declarations within 10 business days of 30 June each year for each individual lobbyist who is expected to engage in lobbying activities.

If lobbyists' details change throughout the year, these details should be updated on the register, no later than 10 business days after the change.

A lobbyist who does not confirm that his or her details are up to date within the period specified in clauses 5.3 and 5.4 may be removed from the Register.

The VPSC will remind all lobbyists currently on the register of these requirements before the due date.


20. What should I do if I become aware of parties subject to the code not adhering to the code?

Breaches to the code should be reported to the Victorian Public Sector Commissioner.


21. How can I get further information on the Register or ask questions about the operation of the Register or the Code?

Email your question to: lobbyistsregister@vpsc.vic.gov.au, or
Phone: 03 9651 5450.

22. I am currently a Minister/Cabinet Secretary/Parliamentary Secretary, can I work as a lobbyist after I leave office?

Clause 7.1 of the code states: "Persons who cease to hold office as a Minister or Cabinet Secretary, shall not, for a period of 18 months after they cease to hold office, engage in lobbying activities relating to any matter with which they had official dealings in their last 18 months in office."

Clause 7.2 of the code states: "Persons who cease to hold office as 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 with which they had official dealings in their last 12 months in office."


23. I am currently working as Executive in the VPS / Ministerial Staff Member, can I work as a lobbyist after I leave employment?

Clause 7.3 of the Code states: "Persons employed as Executives or Ministerial Officers under the Public Administration Act, shall not, for a period of 18 months after they cease their employment, engage in lobbying activities relating to any matter with which they had official dealings in their last 18 months of employment."

Under the Public Administration Act, this includes Executives in the Victorian Public Service and most Declared Authorities. Register of Instruments


Fundraising Code of Conduct

  1. Why did changes to the Lobbyist Code of Conduct occur?
  2. What are the main changes to the Lobbyist Code of Conduct?
  3. When did the changes to the Lobbyist Code of Conduct take place?
  4. What did the changes mean to lobbyists in 2013?
  5. If I have received a success fee before 1 January 2014 will I be removed from the Register?
  6. What happens if I receive a success fee after 1 January 2014?
  7. What happens each year?

24. Why did changes to the Lobbyist Code of Conduct occur?

The release of the Fundraising Code of Conduct for ministers, parliamentary secretaries and coalition government members of parliament was the catalyst for a number of changes in relation to their interaction with individuals and organisations, including their interaction with lobbyists.
(Premier's Media Release).

25. What are the main changes to the Lobbyist Code of Conduct?

  1. The banning of success fees. From 1 January 2014 any individual lobbyist or company found to have received or given a success fee on the tendering or awarding of a public project from the Victorian Government or a Victorian Public Sector Body and/or the outcome of the lobbying activity will be removed from the Register.
  2. The requirement for Lobbyists who have formerly held one of the positions outlined in clause 5.1(e) of the Code to register their details on the Lobbyist Register.

26. When did the changes to the Lobbyist Code of Conduct take place?

The changes to the Lobbyist Code of Conduct took effect from 1 November 2013.

27. What did the changes mean to lobbyists in 2013?

Lobbyists were required to register their details and lodge their annual statutory declaration on 1 November 2013.

28. If I have received a success fee before 1 January 2014 will I be removed from the Register?

No penalty is attached to any individual lobbyist or company that has received or given a success fee prior to 1 January 2014.

Individual lobbyists and companies will not be required to declare whether they have received or given success fees in the twelve months prior to 1 January 2014. Lobbyists will, however, be required to acknowledge the new Code provisions regarding success fees.

29. What happens if I receive a success fee after 1 January 2014?

Lobbyists who have been found to have received a success fee after 1 January 2014 will be removed from the Lobbyist Register.

30. What happens each year?

Each year, lobbyists will continue to be required to register their details and lodge a statutory declaration.

Both an individual lobbyist and company will also be required to lodge a statutory declaration, declaring whether they have given or received success fees since the previous registration cycle.

Please refer to general Q & As for further answers to some of your questions.

Page last revised: 20 June 2014