Liberal lobbyist breaks code of conduct and boasts of inside connections with O’Farrell government

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The Labor Opposition has called for tough action after it was revealed a Liberal lobbyist has broken the Code of Conduct and boasted that his occupancy of Liberal Party high office wins results for his clients with the O’Farrell Government.

Joseph Tannous, owner and director of lobby firm 1st State Government and Corporate Relations and State Executive Member of the NSW Liberal Party, has boasted about using his positions in the Liberal Party “to attain the desired results for his clients” - a clear breach of the Lobbyist Code of Conduct.

When first asked today by the Opposition about what should happen to someone who claims their position in the Liberal Party will help them win favours with the Government, Mr O’Farrell said:

“That’s a matter I would potentially refer to ICAC.” (Hansard, 16 August 2013)

The NSW Opposition has called on the Government and Department of Premier and Cabinet to:

1. Immediately remove Joseph Tannous and his 1st State firm from the Lobbyist Register in NSW;
2. Devote resources within the Department of Premier and Cabinet to ensure Liberal Party lobbyists comply with the rules; and
3. Refer Joseph Tannous to the ICAC in accordance with the Premier’s undertaking.

“The O’Farrell Government has some serious questions to answer about their dealings with 1st State and the claims being made by Joseph Tannous,” Opposition Leader John Robertson said.

“The Director General today confirmed that in many circumstances lobbyists are expected to self-regulate their behaviour, with no resources devoted to stamping out the behaviour seen by Mr Tannous.

“If the public is to be confident that vested interests and lobbyists aren’t running the show within the O’Farrell Government, we need far tougher controls over Liberal Party aligned lobbyists.”

Luke Foley, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council said: “It is unacceptable for a Liberal Party lobbyist to be boasting his inside connections are winning favours with the Coalition in NSW.”

“If Mr O’Farrell is serious about accountability and transparency, he will do as he told the budget estimates committee and refer Mr Tannous to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.”

Mr Tannous’ comments on his website and LinkedIn page:

“Joseph currently holds a number of senior positions within the NSW Liberal Party, in these roles he enjoys constant contact with elected representatives across the political divide enabling him to attain the desired results for his clients.”

“Joseph currently holds a number of senior positions within the NSW Liberal Party...Joseph's range of current contacts and political and business knowledge greatly aides the organisations he advocates on behalf of.”

The Lobbyists Code of Conduct clearly states:

“Lobbyists shall keep strictly separate from their duties and activities as lobbyists any personal activity or involvement on behalf of a political party.” (Section 7.1d)