Anthony Albanese’s attendance at a private dinner paid for by betting company Sportsbet does not “pass the sniff test”, according to independent MP Monique Ryan.
The prime minister was hosted by gaming officials at the National Press Club just weeks before the 2022 election, the Australian Financial Review reported on Tuesday.
He attended the betting giant’s lavish dinner on February 9, 2022, amid growing calls for a cap on gambling advertising.
The report came a day after the Australian Financial Review revealed that Communications Minister Michelle Rowland attended a birthday lunch hosted by gaming lobbyists at a luxury restaurant in Melbourne last year.
Dr Ryan highlighted Mr Albanese’s “secret” dinner as a reason to limit the influence of lobbyists in Canberra.
Anthony Albanese’s attendance at private dinner paid for by betting company Sportsbet doesn’t ‘pass the sniff test’, says independent MP Monique Ryan
The independent MP recently introduced a bill to prevent lobbyists from offering large gifts to politicians and to revise the corresponding code of conduct.
On Tuesday, she called on all major parties to support her private member’s bill aimed at “restoring confidence in democracy”.
“Lobbyists spend millions to influence politicians in the hope that they make decisions that favor business interests rather than the public interest. They don’t spend this money without expecting anything in return,” she said.
“Yesterday I introduced my #CleanUpPoliticsAct, and it’s already making its case: under this law, Anthony Albanese’s secret dinner could not have happened.”
Even if the two lavish meals attended by Mr Albanese and Ms Rowland were legal, Dr Ryan argued they should have been placed on the ministerial agenda so they could be examined.
When she introduced her bill on Monday, Dr. Ryan argued that it was essential to regulate lobbyists in order to prevent corrupt behavior between the parties involved, such as access payment agreements.
Independent MP Monique Ryan recently introduced a bill to prevent lobbyists from offering large gifts to politicians and to revise the corresponding code of conduct.
The regulations would also ensure that decisions are made fairly and based on merit, the independent MP explained.
She said the current code of conduct for lobbyists has failed because it is “toothless” and “too limited” and its enforcement is “dismal”.
“We need an independent regulator administering a strong legislative system, not a complacent and confrontational government waving an administrative framework with the cohesion and efficiency of damp cloth,” she said.
Dr Ryan called for a publicly accessible register of lobbyists and a ban on former politicians working as lobbyists for three years after leaving Parliament.
Lobbyists who break the bill will be fined for the violation and the code will be enforced by an independent integrity commission.
“We want and must demand higher standards of integrity from public servants,” the independent MP said.