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'Young lobbyist calls for sector review to ensure equal opportunities'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Holly Bennett, owner of government relations firm, HSB and training organisation, Engage, is calling on her peers to step out of the shadows and welcome a review of the lobbying sector in New Zealand.

"Each time the conversation comes up about the "dark arts" of lobbying, participants coyly say: 'nothing to see here'. I say, if there really is nothing to see, why wouldn't the sector welcome a review? They say sunlight is the best disinfectant and I think it's high time for the government relations industry to step into the sun," says Holly (Te Arawa, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao).

Some political parties want the government relations sector to be regulated. Holly agrees that more transparency is required, and most importantly, that more education and training about lobbying will bring the power of effective government relations to the people.

"There are currently very few ways to encourage new lobbyists into our sector, it is a bit of a closed door and has an ‘old school’ feel," says Holly.

"That is why I set up Engage, New Zealand’s first and only government relations education and training organisation. We need to demystify lobbying, educate New Zealanders to become their own best advocates, and grow government relations expertise within New Zealand from the ground up.

"There is a lack of pathways into the industry, and a very real need for more competition in the sector. We need more people - whether that be young people, rangatahi, or those retraining, to see government relations as a legitimate career pathway. I know my generation can, they just need to be shown a pathway into it."

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