Abbott to tighten rules on lobbying industry

THE Prime Minister's tightening of the rules surrounding the quiet lobby industry and political parties last year could soon get more stringent.

After Tony Abbott last year banned Liberal Party officials from holding positions as lobbyists, reports of a wider crackdown on the political influence industry were reported on Wednesday.

The proposed changes, as yet un-confirmed by the government, could include changing the self-regulation of the lobbying industry.

Rather than lobbyists declare they are conducting such business and be listed on a national register, a decision about who is or is not a lobbyist would be put in the hands of senior officials in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

It would also widen the definition of "lobbyist" to include some who claim to be strategic or legal "consultants", to avoid scrutiny of their efforts to influence MPs.

The new regime follows former New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell's resignation last week over failing to declare a $3000 bottle of wine given to him by the chief executive of a company that was lobbying the state government.

After Mr Abbott's changes to the rules last year, senior party officials who also held lobbying positions resigned from their party roles, including former minister Santo Santoro in Queensland.

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