Australian technology and telecommunications companies are making more use of lobbyists to gain influence in Canberra, the Federal Government's lobbyist register has revealed.
This time last year, at least 40 lobbying firms had an information technology or telecommunications company as a client. This year that number has been pulled up to 50.
One of last year's most prolific hirer of lobbyists, Telstra, does not appear to have changed its spots with its new management. Around this time last year, the telco hired four lobbyist firms to push its agenda with the government. As of today this is still the case, although the exact firms have changed. The telco has dropped Enhance Corporate, which currently services Cisco and Novell, and has picked up Parker and Partners, which has Alcatel-Lucent and EDS as clients.
Telstra's partly owned subsidiary Foxtel has dropped its lobbying level slightly, only hiring two firms to push its agenda instead of three as last year. The lobbying done for Kaz Group last year is now also done in favour of new owner Fujitsu, not former owner Telstra.
Optus only employs one firm, as does Hutchison (now merged with Vodafone), which does not appear on the lists, to form VHA Group. Altogether there are now 273 lobby firms listed on the register as of today. This has increased from a level of 186 when ZDNet.com.au last looked at the register.
Satellite companies seemed to see the value of networking. Intelsat engaged the same number of lobbyist firms as Telstra. Earlier this year it won a $160 million three-year contract with the Defence Material Organisation to supply communications to the military. Inmarsat was the client of two lobby firms and Iridium Satellite, NewSat and Orion Satellite Systems all enlisted the help of one lobbying specialist.
HP and EDS as well as Sun and Oracle have gained lobby value from their respective marriages (the merger of Sun and Oracle is still pending). HP, which employed only one firm to push its interest, has now gained the added benefit of three that work for EDS, bringing it up to four like Telstra and Inmarsat. Sun Microsystems and Oracle Australia also both employed two, making for a combined total of, again, four. SAP holds its own with three firms.
Microsoft, Google and Dell only put their toe in the water with one firm each, while Apple has splashed out the cash for two. Australian software firms IBA Health and Mincom also afforded one. Of the services companies, Accenture had three firms pushing its line, while Dimension Data and Unisys employed two. ASG, CSC, CSG and Capgemini all had one.
iiNet and the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft faced each other off with one firm each. The Federation and the internet service provider are currently engaged in a landmark copyright case.
Telecommunications suppliers went wild, with Cisco continuing its love for lobbying from last year with three firms helping it with government relations. Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson, Motorola and Qualcomm all had two, while Huawei, Juniper Networks, 3Com and Polycom satisfied themselves with two.
Former National Broadband Network bidder Axia NetMedia, which has been quiet since the new $43 billion plan was announced, still employs a lobbyist. NextGen Networks and TransACT do as well.