Monthly Archives: April 2015

More? Women. Now?

7/8 of the women in the 2015 Queensland Cabinet - Coralee O'Rourke isn't in this shot

7/8 of the women in the 2015 Queensland Cabinet – Coralee O’Rourke isn’t in this shot

Very few people will disagree that politics needs to be more representative of the community – if we were truly choosing candidates on merit we would see more women politicians, more indigenous Australians, more migrants and their descendants, and proportionately fewer middle-aged, heterosexual, anglo men*.

After the 2015 Queensland State election, the Labor side of the Queensland Parliament is 37% women.  Overall the Queensland Parliament is 28% women.

Plus, Queensland has a woman Premier, a woman Deputy Premier, and eight out of 14 Cabinet members are women.  Overall, this is a world record: as far as I can find, never before in the history of Parliamentary democracy have elections thrown up a Government in which women are so strongly represented.

Never. Before.**

When Finland formed its 73rd Government eight months before the Palaszczuk Government took office, they had a majority of women in Cabinet.  I’m claiming a win for Queensland and Australia on the strength of women holding the two most senior positions*** while in Finland the Prime Minister and Deputy are men.

(The Bolivian Legislative Assembly is 49% women, Rwanda has 64%, Andorra has 50.0 %, Cuba 49% and Seychelles 44%:

So why isn’t the Queensland Government, at least, championing the current extraordinary crew of women role models in State Parliament, to encourage more diverse involvement in civic issues?


* Such as me.  We need less of me.  I’m over-represented in politics.
** If I’m wrong, tell me now, OK – my research resources are good, but not unlimited.
*** Finnophiles might argue that theirs is a national Government and Queensland’s is but a state, but my point is about the capacity of the democratic system to elect women leaders.


New Northern Territory Government-in-Waiting

The new Northern Territory Labor Shadow Cabinet announced today by Territory Opposition Leader Michael Gunner includes a new  portfolio of Open and Transparent Government*, to be held by the Opposition Leader himself.

Michael might be a bit unknown to those outside the Territory, even though he has a very good chance to be the next Chief Minister.  You can learn a bit about him here: and here

Labor has only eight Members in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, and all but Delia Lawrie (recently resigned as Opposition Leader) have been given Shadow portfolios.

The portfolios:

Michael Gunnergunner_michael
Leader of the Opposition

  • Major Projects
  • Northern Australia Development
  • Shadow Treasurer
  • Police Fire and Emergency Services
  • Open and Transparent Government
  • Business
Lynne Walkerwalker_lynne
Deputy Leader of the Opposition

  • Health
  • Tourism
  • Public Employment
  • Statehood
  • Women’s Policy
  • Attorney-General and Justice

Biography here.

Natasha Fylesfyles_natasha
Opposition Whip

  • Corrections
  • Alcohol Policy
  • Racing Gaming and Licensing
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Lands and Planning
  • Infrastructure
  • Climate Change

Biography here.

Gerry McCarthymccarthy_gerry

  • Employment and Training
  • Science and Innovation
  • Local Government
  • Community Services
  • Natural Resources
  • Environment
  • Arts and Museums

Biography here.

Ken Vowlesvowles_ken

  • Indigenous Policy
  • Regional Economic Development
  • Resources
  • Mines and Energy
  • Primary Industries
  • Fisheries
  • Transport
  • Asian Relations and Trade
  • Central Australia

Biography here.

Nicole Manisonmanison_nicole

  • Education
  • Heritage
  • Parks and Wildlife
  • Essential Services
  • Defence Support
  • Government Accountability*

Biography here.

Lauren Mossmoss-lauren

  • Child Protection
  • Family and Children’s Services
  • Disability and Mental Health
  • Multicultural Affairs
  • Senior and Young Territorians
  • Corporate and Information Services
  • Public and Affordable Housing

Biography here.


* It is unclear how the Opposition Leader’s portfolio of Open and Transparent Government and Nicole Manison’s portfolio of Government Accountability will interact.

Members of Parliament: Photos, Contacts, Electorates

parl houseThe Queensland Parliament has updated and issued three guides to the current Parliament:

  • Photographs* of Members of Parliament, sorted by electorate name
  • Electorate locations linked to Members of Parliament photographs.
  • Member of Parliament contact lists.

These are three very useful things for we lobbyists, and for ordinary citizens, in spite of the great age of some of the photographs supplied to the Parliament.  All are formatted for printing to A3 sized paper.

You can download them here:

The Federal Parliament isn’t quite so user friendly for stalkers, but you can look up


* “Politics is show business for ugly people” – (possibly) Paul Begala


Resigned To It

heart-brain-smallThere’s too many opportunities for the Queensland media to suggest a conflict of interest exists, in having a lobbyist on the Australian Labor Party’s Administrative Committee, so I resigned last Monday*.

There isn’t inevitably a conflict of interest, and any potential for conflict is quite manageable, but that wouldn’t necessarily be how the media would paint it.

Too many might revel in the opportunity to confect and manipulate a story about, for example, how corporate interests can intervene in debate to take revenge on uncooperative Ministers, or how lobbyists in such roles can transfer sensitive information to clients**.

With the Palaszczuk Government lacking a majority, and lobbyists always an easy, available, and vulnerable target, it seems unwise to leave open an avenue of attack.

The New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party, and the Liberal Party nationally, have banned lobbyists’ membership of their Administrative Committee equivalents, and in the Liberal Party’s case their national equivalent, too.

My strongest interest as an Administrative Committee member has been reforming the culturegovernance and communications of the Australian Labor Party: I am sure this agenda will be continued by others, including new State Secretary Evan Moorhead, but I’ll have to pursue these issues in other forums.

Mike Smith


* Effective in a couple of weeks.
** No such proposition would reflect the truly bureaucratic tedium that is the Administrative Committee agenda.

Politics Needs Fewer Sales Staff, More Business Development Managers

business-development-sign-smallOne problem with Australian politics – and most UK and US politics too – is most Party leaders* are sales staff, not business development managers.

They’re after the quick business/quick sales so that their sales cycle numbers – the next election – look good, but it is at the expense of long-term customer acquisition:

  • current marginal seat campaigning tactics,
  • small target “leadership”,
  • technocratic fiddling around the edges of policy differences,
  • and similar practices

all work to ensure there can be NO growing of a solid base of voters, inspired by a leader’s vision.

When was the last time you saw an Australian political leader grab a big, bold, forward-looking, new, idea or agenda, and then try to get the community broadly on board with it?  Gough Whitlam in 1972John Hewson in 1993?  Does Tony Abbott’s “Stop The Boats” count?**

Most are satisfied to claim a mandate for something even when voters have been clearly opposed, when they survive in spite of its advocacy – Mike Baird’s unpopular commitment to asset sales come to mind.

There’s so many important issues out there begging for a long-term perspective, matched with solutions capable of inspiring Australians, but there’s an unwillingness to put in any kind of a concerted effort to explain and persuade – so until we have political leaders prepared to put an effort into business development rather than sales, we seem locked forever into two things:

  • a downward spiral of lowest-common-denominator policies that pander to existing prejudices and demons rather than voters’ better angels, and
  • a cowardly concealment of real intentions, behind ambiguous platitudes.


* Party officials, Members of Parliament, political advisors … they’re all leaders, though many don’t act like it.
** I don’t think it does, because I don’t believe it was bold or new – it was mostly pandering to prejudices already in voters’ minds.  Feel free to disagree!


Strategy Needs Strategy


From “Your Strategy Needs a Strategy”

There’s a new book coming out in June, called Your Strategy Needs a Strategy: How to Choose and Execute the Right Approach.  In anticipation, one of the authors has been laying out some of the book’s core propositions in a series of LinkedIn articles.

At the heart of what they are saying is the perfectly logical proposition that different business environments should drive you to different strategic approaches.  They identify five kinds of business environment and the related strategic response:

The Environment / The Future Strategic Response
I can predict it, but I can’t change it Classical
I can’t predict it, and I can’t change it Adaptive
I can predict it, and I can change it Visionary
I can’t predict it, but I can change it Shaping
My resources are severely constrained Renewal

Articles summarising the book so far:

Martin Reeves seems to be posting a new update each week – stay tuned.

It looks like a must-buy for those who offer strategy advice, and strategy development services.


Lobbying is Marketing

marketing-cloud-small(… and Government Relations is PR!)

Every definition of marketing I’ve ever respected applies to lobbying – except for one tiny component* of lobbying – and I’ve become convinced that lobbying is a super-specialised kind of marketing.

The ultimate purpose of lobbying is that someone in Government (public servant or politician)  has been persuaded they should buy** something: your client’s idea, credibility, product or service.  In eleven years of lobbying I’ve never met a lobbying project aimed at anything other than that objective.

The list of things that might be done as part of a lobbying project (here) pretty much reflects the range of things I’ve seen done as part of marketing projects.

Government relations – a term sometimes used in lieu of lobbying, though it’s not quite the same thing – is a super-specialised kind of Public Relations, and is normally a major part of any lobbying effort.  It has the same purpose, brand building in support of sales, but targeted at a very specialised “public”.

Engaging with Government is pointless unless it ends in a “sale” of something, just like marketing, and just as PR without a concrete “sales” objective is a great waste of time and resources.

So, lobbying is marketing?


* That tiny component is face-to-face lobbying itself, which can sometimes be more about the sales job.
** Or, every once in a rare while, sell something e.g. a public asset – but via accepting your client’s policy proposition.