Labour wants trade unions excluded from a potential lobbying register and blames the MP who drafted the plan for including them in the first place.
Green MP Holly Walker's member's bill would require those who lobby politicians to be registered and adhere to a code of ethics.
It passed its first reading with unanimous support from all parties, but Labour has since put forward an amendment that would exclude trade unions.
There is, of course method in Labour's madness:
The unions are major backers of the Labour Party.
Indeed. The volumes of cash with which unions support the Labour Party have been well chronicled. Perhaps the most voluminous example is the Service and Food Workers' Union, which over-spent its election budget by $167,364 in 2005, as it pumped almost a quarter of a million dollars into the Labour Party's war chest. Oddly, the SFWU recorded a loss of $218,000 in 2005; we wonder how that happened! But the union's former general secretary Darien Fenton entered Parliament via Labour's list in 2005, so the investment must have been deemed as having a return.
To her and the Green Party's credit, Holly Walker is not buying into Labour's dodgy amendment; read on:
Despite Labour's stance, the Greens are confident the bill can pass through Parliament with the support of National and other parties.
Ms Walker told a select committee yesterday that the bill was drafted too widely and she expected it to be changed during the parliamentary process.
However, she did not believe trade unions should be excluded altogether. Rather there was room to close other loopholes so small and non-profit organisations were not unfairly burdened.
"We need to have transparency about who has access and influence in that system. We think the public has a right to know who's influencing members of Parliament and on which issues."
The lobbying register also had to be practical and fair, she said.
Labour cannot have its cake and eat it, and Ms Walker is right to be calling for transparency to be extended across the board, including trade unions. That may upset the Labour Party, especially those members of caucus who are amongst the ones described by Damien O'Connor as "self-serving" when he made his infamous but honest comment last April. But that's tough; transparency is like a window, not a two-way mirror.