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Lobbying Groups in New Zealand

Facts on Lobbying Groups and Lobbyists in NZ

New Zealand just like any other country has lobbying groups. Lobbying groups or interest groups as they are referred to by other people are groups that lobby the government and other public agencies to promote certain issues or points of view. Lobby groups always urge or put pressure on the government or political policy makers.  New Zealand is considered to be having lobbying groups of different kinds that have different aims. This has been brought about by the increase of New Zealand’s population because the increase of population to any society brings about diversity and hence the increased numbers of such lobby groups. Some of the lobby groups are society for the unborn child, trade unions, the Maori activist group nga Tamatoa. In New Zealand, very large lobby groups are well resourced and also have national offices with well paid staff. For the small groups they are often run by volunteers.

Interest groups have three major functions; Advocacy- assessing proposed laws and also making submissions to parliament’s select committees, lobbying politicians and government ministers and their advisors, and trying to influence public opinion, Policy formulation- researching and developing policy, supporting members- providing material benefits, information and advice to members. Interest groups or lobby groups can sometime opt for direct action through petition, or through public submissions, through demonstrations, advertising and also media campaigns. There are cases where these groups have attempted to influence election outcomes by funding or endorsing a parliamentary candidate or even party. The capital of New Zealand Wellington being the political capital also of the country is base to many lobbying groups. These groups may sometimes provide their members with support e.g. material benefits or give them information and advice.

One may find that certain lobbying groups with economic interest will try to gain economic advantage for their members. Back in the nineteenth century several groups lobbied for roads and railways to be built in their areas. Trade unions had powerful political influence back in the 20th century but that influence declined in early 1990s. There is a lobby group in New Zealand called the federated farmers for farmers. This group lobbies for farmers interest there. There is also the business New Zealand and the business roundtable interest groups that promote the interest of business in that country. Other cause interest groups will lobby the government over certain issues affecting their members.

There was a 19th century women’s Christian temperance union that was aiming to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol. The union’s campaign to ban alcohol almost succeeded in 1919 when it almost won the alcohol prohibition. The union also fought for women to be allowed to vote and its supporters also engaged in intense lobbying like the writing of letters to newspapers. At long last their strategy worked for them to their advantage and women were voted for the first time in the election of 1893. Still there are lobby groups that fight for the preservation of the environment. The main cause of the formation of this lobby group was to maintain town belts and urban reserves. Some notable environmental preservation lobby groups emerged in the 19th-century that mainly advocated for the preservation of scenery, and then thereafter they advocated for the preservation of forest and birds. The actions of these lobby groups led to the passing of an act in 1903 that was aimed at protecting New Zealand’s heritage. The society for the protection of the unborn child (SPUC) opposed abortion. An activist group called the Nga Tamatoa lobbied for the introduction of Maori language teaching in schools in the 1970s in New Zealand. There are also consumer lobby groups that work to ensure the rights and welfare of consumers. There is an interest group in New Zealand called the consumer New Zealand which was founded in 1959 that researches and then reports on consumer goods and services.

There are also welfare related consumer lobby groups that advocate for healthy welfare of its members like Action on smoking and health (ASH) that lobbies for the prevention of death and diseases caused by smoking. There is the fight the obesity epidemic lobby group that aims to promote healthy food and control obesity. There is also the child poverty action group that lobbies to protect the child against child poverty. Still there are community and recreational lobby groups that fight for the recreational groups such as the rugby football union, the federated mountain clubs and the New Zealand recreational fishing council. Grey power lobby group lobbies for the welfare of the older people in the society. In the 20th century there were an increased number of lobby groups that sprung up. A notable one was the white New Zealand league that opposed Asian immigration to New Zealand.

There is also another group called the family first that was founded in 2006 with aim of promoting families and marriage. It came to the limelight when it opposed crimes (substituted section 59) amendment bill (known as anti-smacking bill) that was seeking to remove the legal defense of reasonable force by parents to discipline their children. In the year 2001 another lobby groups emerged called the sensible sentencing trust that lobbied for longer sentences to be handed out to offenders who do violent crime, it also agitated for the victims of crimes to be given greater input into court proceedings before sentencing is handed out. 2006 emerged the conversely rethinking crime and punishment group that lobbied for more rehabilitative and positive prison practice.

The Liquor lobby was formed by people in the alcohol industry to cushion them from an imminent alcohol prohibition. Anxious by the public support for banning of alcohol businesspeople from the industry like the brewers and retailers in New Zealand formed the National Council of the Licensed Trade in 1918 to promote and protect their interests. The council lobbied the government to protect the liquor industry, and successfully campaigned against the prohibition referendum in 1919.

Business New Zealand is another group that was formed in 2001 by a merger of the Employers’ Federation and Manufacturers’ Federation. It represents a number of regional business organizations at the national level. Business New Zealand performs analysis and advocacy on several issues that are of concern to employers such as tax rates, compliance costs, the minimum wage, employment law changes, health and safety. Another interest group that was formed was the New Zealand business roundtable in 1976. It represents approximately 50 chief executives and directors of New Zealand’s largest companies. It was one of the most influential interest groups in New Zealand between 1984 and 1993 the years that successive governments introduced a robust program of free market reform. There are many other economic lobby groups in New Zealand like the road transport forum that formed in 1997 to promote the road transport industry. This group ensured that 90 percent of all New Zealand freight went by road. Another group formed in New Zealand in 1895 was the insurance council of New Zealand with 25 member companies. The effort of this lobby group has made the insurance industry in the country to be one of the least regulated in the world. The food and grocery council of New Zealand lobbies for food legislation and many other issues affecting grocery manufacturers and suppliers in the country.

The home industry was not also left out as there is the homeowners and buyers association of New Zealand that was formed in year 2006 provides advice and support to owners of defective homes. The group lobbies for warm, dry, safe and healthy homes in New Zealand. Its main aim is to safeguard the interest of homeowners. There is also the domestic users’ energy network of New Zealand that lobbies for affordable and sustainable supplies and also a fair pricing policy. Another lobby group is called the telecommunications users association of New Zealand. It was founded in 1995 and it represents both major telecommunications users and small business and residential users. By the year 2011 it had about 450 members. It has been the champion in fighting for the introduction of greater regulation in the industry. It has also been involved in bringing fair competition in the telecommunications industry to the consumers’ benefit.

There are other groups such as the Federated Mountain Clubs which encompasses over 80 tramping and mountain-climbing clubs, the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council that represents the interests of non-commercial marine fishers and the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association that tries to ensure that hunters organize and manage recreational hunting.  These lobbyists have helped greatly the interest of the people who they stand for in New Zealand.

The government of New Zealand decision to suspend the funding of $ 30 million of its medicine budget was sharply criticized by a lobby group. The New Zealand medicines lobby group criticized the government for its decision saying that the money could have been used by Pharmac, a medical firm in New Zealand to invest in new drugs and that could help patients with rare illnesses. The medicine lobby group has further criticized the government of New Zealand for underfunding Pharmac in spite of the country’s aging population stating that the aging population of the country will lead to an increased demand for medicine.

There is also another lobby group in Wellington that has been formed to protect Evans Bay. There was a proposal by Wellington airport to increase the airport’s runway three hundred meters into Evans bay. This project is backed by the Wellington city council but the residents of the area are against the project arguing that the project will have disastrous effects on the bay, environment, the local area and Wellington in general. The lobby group is called guardians of Evans bay and their primary objective is to oppose and prevent any runway extension.

There is also the Ohariu preservation society that is opposed to the development of wind turbines in their areas. The residents of Ohariu valley are concerned residents who are weary of the planned wind turbine development in their region and Wellington too. These people argue that in case of any installation of wind turbine then the turbines should be installed at least 700 meters away from zone boundary.

There is also another group of Mt Cook residents calling itself Mt cook mobilized. They are lobby that want to protect the wellbeing of the areas facilities by preserving them and also developing them reasonably. They have highlighted the following points as issues that they want addressed; the threat to TSW swim school and pool facility, the proposal to divert the Buckle Street section of the motorway extension to run alongside Mt Cook School’s playing field and classrooms, to allow for the development of a park in front of the War Memorial, road safety issues in Mt Cook, particularly at the intersections of Buckle and Taranaki Streets, and Buckle and Tory/Tasman Streets. A large supermarket and service station in Tasman Street would exacerbate these traffic problems.

Lobby groups in New Zealand have helped the peoples whose interests they stand to protect there. It can be said that it is the lobby groups that helped liberate the women there at a time when the rights of women was being looked down upon by even the government itself. Things like barring women from participating in elections are the discrimination that the women lobby groups successfully campaigned against and won. It can also be said with equal measure that the indigenous communities there also benefited from the influence of these groups. It was due to the concerted efforts of Maori group that they were allowed to teach their language in schools.

There are also groups that are working for the interests of people with disability in New Zealand. One such group is the ASENZ (association of supported employment of New Zealand). This is an umbrella group that has approximately 90 supported employment providers and many other consumers. ASENZ collects employment-related data, circulates regular newsletters, and lobbies on issues concerning employment for people with disabilities. The disabled persons association is an umbrella organization representing people with disabilities. Its role is to provide information, promote, encourage and educate society about the full participation of people with disabilities, actively lobby government and service providers, advocate for people with disabilities, and foster links with international disability organizations. Membership includes people with physical, sensory, intellectual, psychiatric, neurological and age-related disabilities as well as a range of disability. DPA's philosophy is that people with disabilities must have the right and the opportunity to influence and shape policy at all levels, enjoy equality and full participation, make informed choices on issues, enjoy dignity and respect as a person, and live as they choose with the appropriate support.

Another group called the VASS (New Zealand Federation of Vocational and Support Services). It is the national umbrella group for vocational service providers. Some of the services it offers are; education, training and peer support for providers of services. Regular forums provide opportunities for members to debate issues assist with the preparation of strategies and keep them informed about the latest issues and trends.
Another group which deals mainly with the old people is the Age Concern New Zealand its mission is mainly working to protect the old people in the society and also working to promote quality of life for older people. Age Concern makes representations to Government and its agencies, and consults with the community sector and general public on ageing issues.

There is the Alzheimers New Zealand lobby group which provides support and advocacy for people with Alzheimer's disease and their cares. The local groups run their own services which may include field workers, support groups, telephone support, public education, and newsletters. People with Arthritis in New Zealand also have a group that lobbies for their interest. The group is called Arthritis New Zealand and it to advocate for the welfare of people living with Arthritis in the country and to empower them to be able to have a better quality life. The organization works in the areas of education, public awareness, direct support, lobbying and funding research. It offers advice, information and guidance on services and special equipment that people with Arthritis need.

People living in blindness also have a group that is advocating for their cause too in New Zealand. It is a voluntary group that advocates for the welfare of the blind people by trying to remove barriers against them and also improving the participation of blind and vision impaired people in the community.

People with Autism also have a group that is lobbying for their interests. All that the group advocates for is the welfare of those affected by Autism. The Deaf Association of New Zealand is also another group that has the aim of achieving full access and participation of the Deaf people in New Zealand. The organization is unique in that its governing body is ruled by elected Deaf members from the Deaf community. It provides a range of services, including advocacy, interpreting, peer support, and social activities to the deaf community.

NZ Lobbying Facts

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