eBay, Cisco, SAP and Oracle are amongst a number of technology companies that have paid former politicians and others to try to influence the Queensland Government, the state's new lobbyist register revealed this week.
The lobby list, a key Bligh election promise to improve the transparency of lobbyists' impact on government decision-making, revealed three key players: Enhance Corporate, Hawker Britton, and Government Relations Australia.
Under the new laws recommended by Queensland's Crime and Misconduct Commission, current politicians are prevented from speaking to lobbyists not on the list, while former politicians are prevented from joining it for between 18 months to two years, depending on the rank of the official.
Enhance, which is part-owned by former Beattie Government Deputy Queensland Premier, Jim Elder, is currently paid to represent Cisco, and ERP vendor Mincom. It has also represented Novell in the past 12 months.
Enhance managing director and Jim Elder's business partner Terry Kempnich, a former member of the Goss Government, told ZDNet.com.au that technology companies used its service to communicate their technologies' capabilities to government, and to hear from decision makers what their priorities are.
Terry Kempnich, MD Enhance
"The Queensland Government just went to an election and articulated a whole range of public policy, across health, policing and infrastructure," said Kempnich. "The IT industry is across every single one of those sectors and they will want to know where they fit in."
Kempnich agreed that public perception of the persuasion trade was negative, but that it was a legitimate service that required rare knowledge.
"It's unfortunate that it is that way, but the business of government is a complex one and the people [we] employ are those with years of experience working with and in government, such as in policy development. They're all legitimate skills that are very difficult to translate," he said.
Hawker Britton, another big player in Queensland's ICT industry, which is owned by former Carr Government Chief of Staff Bruce Hawker, is paid to represent Telstra-owned Sensis, Oracle and Telstra. It has also represented IBA Health, Logica, Queensland-based software company TechnologyOne and Unisys in the past year.
Government Relations Australia, another large player, partly owned by former Hawke and Keating government minister, John Dawkins, currently lobbies the Queensland Government on behalf of eBay, SAP and Singtel Optus.
Western Australian ISP iiNet has apparently also been lobbying the Queensland Government via Sydney-based firm Springboard Australia, run by yet another Goss Government staffer, Timothy Grau.
The list follows a similar one put forward under the Rudd Government shortly after it was elected.