Officials wrote to the company again on February 7 to set out their concerns in the wake of this masthead’s reporting last year.
“Have you received a substantive response?” Senator Water asked.
“To this point, Senator, we have not,” Newnham replied.
The Attorney-General’s Department has shared information with Services Australia and the National Disability Insurance Agency over the contracts being reviewed by Dr Watt ahead of his findings.
When Waters asked what officials did when lobbyists did not register, Newnham said there were ten complaints last year and only one confirmed breach, which was an “accidental but minor” problem.
“It’s a mechanism that works best when there is cooperation with those in which we have engagements,” he said of the scheme.
Waters responded to a series of answers by criticising some features of the lobbyist register as “farcical” because people did not have to register when they worked for a company seeking influence – such as a pharmaceutical, resources or gaming company – but did have to register when they worked for a third party such as a lobbying firm.
Milo did not respond to requests for comment by email or phone. He told this masthead last year he was not a lobbyist and was not required to sign up to the public register, but the cache of emails included messages from Synergy360 clients questioning this.
An executive at one of the firm’s clients, Unisys, raised the issue with a colleague in an email in August 2017 after learning that Milo was not listed on the lobbyist register.
“I recommend we consider this and if necessary ask David whether he intends to register, and if not, why not,” the Unisys lawyer wrote.
Another Unisys executive then raised the issue with Synergy 360 by email, saying: “Are you guys on the Lobbyist Register for government lobbyist – our lawyer cannot see you.”
In a separate email about a different client in August 2017, a Synergy 360 executive wrote to Milo to say the word “lobbying” would not be used.
“Prior engagements have been in a lobbyist capacity and I told him NOT to use the ‘L’ word!!” the executive wrote by email.
Milo told this masthead last year there was “no substance” to reports that Synergy 360 was a lobbying firm.
“We support any government review and continue to operate within the same stringent procurement policies that apply to all professional service providers,” he said.
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