Who’s a Lobbyist?
Posted by Mike Smith
When Greenpeace take a delegation to a Minister, to talk about the Great Barrier Reef, they’re lobbying. If the Australian Medical Association seek new training standards for doctors, they’re lobbying. Should you push your local Councillor to oppose a high-rise development, or support a new local park, you’re lobbying. When Woolworths talk to the Government about weekend trading hours, yes, they’re lobbying. And while a town planner or a government relations consultant sees a public servant on behalf of a client, they are probably lobbying, too.
So many kinds of lobbyist: consultant lobbyists, who are hired guns in the same way as are barristers; business operatives, or owners or directors, who press a case on behalf of their company; social action, professional, or community organisations who want a policy changed, or saved.
Included in that last is political parties and movements: when your local Branch of The Greens Party sends a letter to the Environment Minister demanding protection for the black-throated finch, they are lobbying. So are the Student Union when they hold a protest march about Uni fees.
And there’s you: sooner or later, everyone gets angry or enthused about some public policy issue, and would like to influence what a Government is doing. It might be that new local park for the kids, or immigration policy, or street lighting, or anything in between.
If you do something about it – organise a petition, write a letter, or go see your local MP: you’ve become a lobbyist. Congratulations!
If you do nothing about that anger or enthusiasm, don’t be fooling yourself – you don’t care enough to be a lobbyist.