Category Archives: Culture change

Last Week in Queensland – 5 December 2016

last-week-logo-2Last week in Queensland, many bite-sized stories about Parliamentary business kept us entertained; towards the end of the week everyone got excited about Nick Behrens from the Chamber of Commerce standing for Parliament, and Lawrence Springborg leaving.  Even the Government’s updated organised crime laws passed with only a token media flutter.




The Opposition and Crossbench

Lawrence Springborg

Lawrence Springborg






Economy and Infrastructure

Gene Tunny, author of Qld Economy Watch

Gene Tunny, author of Qld Economy Watch


Parliamentparl house

  • Queensland’s Parliament has finished sitting for 2016, and next sits from Tuesday 14 February to Thursday 16 February
  • The Queensland Parliament’s summary of what’s new, including newly-introduced and passed legislation, is here
  • Federal Parliament has finished sitting for 2016, and next sits from Tuesday 7 February to Thursday 9 February


Sleeper Issues?








* We’re not representing that this is a complete coverage of news in Queensland – it certainly isn’t, and it’s what we find interesting or important, and sometimes what’s unusual.  Some of the links will require subscriptions to read content.



US Elections – How Donald Trump Won

hill-and-donCompare Michigan and Pennsylvania.  Donald Trump clearly won the latter through a massive turnout of rarely-votes in the middle of the state (see and appears to have won the former by winning over previous Democrat voters (see – though more analysis will give a better picture.

That’s two entirely different ways of winning, in two important states.

Obama in the contested 2008 Primary had a successful State-by-State win plan: did Trump have the same in 2016?  These different patterns in two critical states suggest perhaps he did.

Kellyanne Conway was his final campaign manager and deserves major credit for his victory, but she took over only a scant 12 weeks out from election day – could she have created and executed such a state-by-state plan in so short a time?  Her predecessors, incompetent and possibly corrupt, seem unlikely to have had such insight and coherence.

Insider-tell-all books after the 2008 and 2012 election cycle answered many questions about internal strategy development – the 2016 version may tell us whether there was such a plan, or whether luck and happenstance played a bigger part.

However, Kellyanne achieved in less than three months something much more formidable: she created a new candidate and a new election, and hence a winning coalition, by taming Trump.

Before the Presidential Debates, Trump had set about making himself the outsider who could upturn politics-as-usual and fix a failed system.  His plain speaking, deliberately provocative and deliberately different from Republican orthodoxy, had built a loyal following amongst those alienated from the “American Dream”, but failed to broadly inspire evangelical Christians, and alienated moderate Republicans.  His support, lacking those two components of the Republican base, was insufficient for victory.

Just prior to the October 19 third debate, his language moderated, his insults decreased, and the content of his ad-hoc statements became more coherent.  At the third debate, he pivoted, pressed the case for the Republican Right’s hot-button policies, and they flocked to his banner.  Post-debate, he became increasingly a more polished and less alienating candidate.  Some of the moderate Republicans, contemplating voting for Hillary, moved back to the fold.

To the Republican base, Trump now looked – more-or-less – like a Republican.

Quite suddenly, the Clinton campaign faced a different candidate, who now led a coalition of the disaffected and the Republican base, to which they had no adequate counter.  It’s not even clear they noticed the new candidate.



(Half of Ethical Consulting Services (Mike) has been embedded in the campaign since mid-October.)



US Elections – New Every 4 Years

hill-and-donThey completely dissolve and re-form their Presidential campaigns every four years in the US, while in Australia the campaign machinery and personnel continue from one election cycle to another* – this is one of the big differences between Australian and US Election Campaigns.

This system in the US arises in large part because the Presidential campaign is so much a construct of the candidate, rather than the Party – based around the style and wishes of each individual candidate.

The downside of this system is the need to rebuild completely, and the capacity of a campaign to have to relearn hard lessons learned by previous campaigns.  I’ve seen that happen – one candidate’s campaign, four years after some inspired organising, had quite forgotten how to manage a particular and important aspect of campaigning.

Another downside is that campaigns have to re-learn the local terrain and quirks, and consultants have to be re-inducted all over again.

And it also builds a resentment amongst locals, that the Presidential campaign has come in over the top of them, and taken over their turf, again, without seeming interested in local knowledge, or employing locals.

There are two big upsides, though:

  1. a complete rebuild every four years clears away the bad habits of the past, makes it easier to innovate, and reduces the desire to prosecute the battles of the last political war, and
  2. Presidential candidates get an opportunity to build the campaign which best reflects their values, strategies and interests – and consistency between campaign and candidate brand is very important!

So, the feel is very different from Australia, and it’s the same with both major Parties.

Better or worse than Australia?  Maybe, on this issue, it’s simply different.


(Half of the Ethical Consulting Services team – that would be Mike – will be embedded within the US Presidential campaign, from mid-October: this year, US election day is 8 November.)


* With, in Australia, some uptake of new technology and some staff turnover, of course.




US Elections – Don’t Count Trump Out

hillary_clintonThough Hillary Clinton is today rated an 82.8% chance to win the US Presidency, it isn’t over until it’s over.  Though Donald Trump has shown himself unfit for office time and again, key supporters are deserting him daily, and his Party are thinking about doing the same thing, there are four weeks to go.

I strongly expect Hillary to win, because she is the best candidate who could and she’s way ahead, but she has vulnerabilities which can change the dynamic of the last four weeks:

Voting is voluntary.

For many reasons, most of them illegitimate but nonetheless felt and believed, plenty of Democratic voters are lukewarm about her.  If they don’t feel enthused enough to turn out to vote, there are states where she’s in trouble.

In the eyes of  many of Hillary’s supporters, Trump is so awful they may feel more motivated to vote, but what I observe is a feeling he’s so awful he can’t possibly win – “I mean no-one’s actually going to vote for him are they, so why should I bother to go and vote for Hillary?” – so they don’t need to bother.

And while Hillary’s remains to be tested, Barack Obama’s Get-Out-The-Vote machine was the best the US has ever seen: if Hillary can’t match it, can she get a big enough turnout to win?

Hillary can make mistakes.

Describing half of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables” was disgusting, wrong and a campaign disaster.  It wasn’t off-the-cuff, it was scripted.  A campaign that so misunderstands how to campaign as to do that, can make more, big, mistakes … but they might have learned from that one.

Hillary can believe the wrong thing.trump

She might truly believe half of Trump’s supporters are “deplorables”, which says she’s disconnected from the real world.  Research done independently on those who are voting from Trump says that in many cases they are people for whom the system isn’t delivering, for whom the American Dream is a nightmare.

They aren’t voting for Trump en masse because they all want to sow division and bile and hate as he does, they’re voting for a guy who they think will wreck the system that has lied to them, failed them, and failed their communities.  A campaign so off target about their opponent’s supporters has little chance of prising any of them off.

And, if you are that mistaken about why your opponent has supporters, you’re hardly likely to be focussed on addressing their issues – and powerlessness, imposed change, inequality, and unfairness are at the heart of the US failing to deliver for an enormous proportion of its citizens.

Hillary can say the wrong thing.

Describing half of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables” was a stupid thing to say, even if she actually believes it.  There are at least four things wrong with it.

First, you’ll never get people to change their opinions and support yours by abusing them, or authorising others so to do, as she did.  You only lock them in to opposing you forever – beyond just one election – and sow further seeds of division in a system already rife with intractability.

Second, the meta-message you send when you describe people as “deplorables” is that you think you are superior to them, which plays into the “aloof and elitist and not one of us” picture of Hillary and insider Democrats, which Republicans have so assiduously used to take working class votes away from Democratic Party candidates.

Third, it wastes valuable airtime and distracts your campaign from more important messages.  Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s recent discussion of Pauline Hanson and her One Nation Party were heading down a much smarter road.

Fourth, it makes campaign workers and down-ticket candidates think that’s the message they should be sending, which locks them into maximising the first two bad outcomes.

She won’t say “deplorables” again, and she’s sorry ever she did, but four weeks of draining campaigning is a long time for a campaign which has shown itself capable of such an error to make no more biggies.

The Russians are coming.  And Wikileaks.

They’ve both got more files and more emails to leak.  They both seem to want Hillary to lose, though I imagine the Russians might back off in exchange for a less aggressive Foreign Policy posture from Hillary.  The harmfulness to her campaign of what’s been leaked so far seems relatively inconsequential, but these leaks might be more important for the signal they send of how deeply they’ve both seen into her secrets – sending a message about what might yet be released.  Not knowing what they’ve got and when it might be released means we have to be open to the prospect that future leaks might significantly harm Hillary’s chances … and that she’s expecting it.

(Half of the Ethical Consulting Services team – that would be Mike – will be embedded within the US Presidential campaign, from mid-October: this year, US election day is 8 November.)



US Elections – Voluntary

hill-and-donClose observation of US Presidential election campaigns shows the enormous and negative impact of voluntary voting.  Starry-eyed* Australians say voluntary voting simply means voters won’t be forced to choose between candidates they dislike.

They’re wrong – the differences between voluntary and compulsory voting are far-reaching.

US election campaigns – Presidential particularly – must devote massive resources to enrolling voters** which raises the cost, which puts pressure on candidates and parties to be constantly in fundraiser mode.  Many senior campaign advisors say candidates should spend half their time fundraising.  The voluntary nature of voting puts even greater pressures on the system and contributes to making US elections the money-pit and money-deformed system they are.

Four weeks out from election day, every last bit of local activity on the ground switches from being about voter enrolment to nagging people to vote – forget any thought of a high-minded contest of ideas.  Every.  Last.  Bit.  Of.  Local.  Activity.

But the bigger problem is the way voluntary enrolment and voting change the discussion.

In Australia’s compulsory voting system, knowing*** every voter is likely to vote, candidates and campaign strategists have to generate in each voter merely a mild preference between, say, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten.  In the US system, candidates and campaign strategists have to generate in each voter a preference so strong that it motivates them to vote, usually on a working day when they don’t have to bother – a motivating preference.

That’s done through the use of language and persuasion tactics much more extreme than we usually see in Australia – the kind of campaign Australians say they find revolting: blowing minor differences into massive schisms, the most hyperbolic descriptions, careful mischaracterisation of the other side, pressing questions as though they were fact, aggressive and divisive language, and so on.  They all go to minimise any prospect of bipartisanship, political dialogue, or cross-party cooperation, anywhere in the political system.

In seeking to de-legitimise the opponent, they trash the institution; to save the village from falling to the enemy, they destroy the village.

There’s another issue, too: there’s a contract involved in voting – an exchange of obligations, a reciprocity – that lends the outcome legitimacy, and burdens the victor with obligations.  Those who participate in society by voting have a stake in its institutions, behaviours and success, and in exchange for them participating in elections, society and in particular the elected Government owes voters respect and recognition.  Acknowledgement of reciprocal obligations and legitimacies is weaker, and hence the existence of those things is weaker, between Governments and non-voters.

These consequences, driven so much by voluntary voting, tell a substantial part of the story behind the complete inability of the US system of Government, to govern.




(Half of the Ethical Consulting Services team – that would be Mike – will be embedded within the US Presidential campaign, from today up to US Election Day on 8 November.)


* And some who just want electoral advantage

** Enrolment is voluntary, too.

*** Presuming rather than knowing, but that’s another discussion entirely.




Last Week in Queensland – 18 April 2016

last-week-logo-2The Courier Mail is campaigning every day for sale of Government assets, as studies reveal major trends in Queensland’s economic structures, amid mixed news* about where the economy is currently.




The Opposition

John McVeigh MP

John McVeigh MP





Noel Pearson

Noel Pearson


Economy and Infrastructure

Bernard Salt

Bernard Salt


parl houseParliament


Sleeper Issues?






* We’re not representing that this is a complete coverage of news in Queensland – it certainly isn’t, and it’s what we find interesting or important, and sometimes what’s unusual.  Some of the links will require subscriptions to read content.


How To Lobby

demandingA great resource if you want something from Government – our updated* directory of How To Lobby articles**, published over the last thirty months, and indexed by topics.

Click one of these links to take you to that topic/heading:

      1. Why
      2. Who Does It?
      3. Reality Bites
      4. Strategy
      5. The Basics
      6. Targeting
      7. Policy Processes – What You MUST Know
      8. Getting Ready
      9. The Meeting
      10. What To Ask For
      11. How To Ask For It
      12. When To Ask
      13. Specialties


Why Lobby?

“Why Lobby?” Encore

Take me back to the top of this article!

Who Does It

Who’s a Lobbyist?

Who’s Your Best Lobbyist?

Take me back to the top of this article!

Reality Bites

Lobbying: The Dirty Truth

Myths & Legends of Lobbying

Dogbert Does Lobbying
Regulating Lobbyists: Hardly

Australian Lobbying: Credibility Fail

Take me back to the top of this article!


Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There!

Strategy & Delusion

DON’T Increase Awareness

Take me back to the top of this article!

burke-grillThe Basics

Lobbying: 6 Things to Know

Lobbyists Do WHAT?

Lobbying is Marketing

Take me back to the top of this article!


“Get Me The Premier!”

Who’s the Decision-Maker?

Take me back to the top of this article!

Policy Processes – What You MUST Know

Mysterious & Mysteriouser: How Did THAT Happen?

“So When WILL They Decide???”

From Althaus, Bridgman and Davis

From Althaus, Bridgman and Davis

How’s Your Rat King?

The Uber-Rat-King

What IS A “Policy Instrument,” Anyway?

Sax vs. Cymbals

Take me back to the top of this article!

Getting Ready To Lobby

Lobbying Labor’s Queensland Government: How?

Take me back to the top of this article!

The Meeting

How to Get That Meeting

What if You Can’t Connect with the Decision-Maker?

When you meet the Minister …

Take me back to the top of this article!

What To Ask For

Persuading Government: What You Say

What Makes A Policy Good?

Make Your “Ask” Feasible

Take me back to the top of this article!

agressive-manHow To Ask For It

Connecting with Decision-Makers

Tell Government a Story!

Motivating & Persuading

Persuading Government: How To Say It

The Talking Dead: Say This & Your Project Dies

Take me back to the top of this article!

When To Ask

Election Time: Early Birds Get Worms!

Take me back to the top of this article!


Crisis Management 101

And now, over to you:

What other topics would you like to see covered?  What have you struggled with in the past, when looking for decisions from Government?


* With more content than the version published in 2015!
** There will be more!
Take me back to the top of this article!


Last Week in Queensland – 29 February 2016

There was plenty happening* in Parliament last week, at the end of two weeks of eventful sittings – including a failed leadership coup!



The Opposition



tunney-article-picEconomy and Infrastructure



  • Opening Parliament 2015Queensland’s Parliament next sits on 15 March 2016, having just completed two weeks of sittings.
  • The Parliament’s summary of what’s new, including newly-introduced and passed legislation, is here
  • The Federal Parliament sits this week, commencing on Monday 29 February and expected to finish on Thursday 4 March 2016 – see

Sleeper Issues?


*   We’re not representing that this is a complete coverage of news in Queensland – it certainly isn’t, and it’s what we find interesting or important, and sometimes what’s unusual. Some of the links will require subscriptions to read content.


Better Meetings: How?

meeting-angry-dollarDo you spend too much time in meetings that drive you nuts and waste your time?

There’s remarkably little good advice around, about how to make your meetings better, so we’re fixing that.

You can try:

  • this article from Bob Holderness-Rodham, which is reasonably simple and basic, or
  • this blog post from us, which is a bit deeper, or
  • this article from the Institute of Company Directors, which is mostly for higher-level and more formal meetings but does have many good suggestions,

or send us a message – we’re already helping others out with training and mentoring, customised to their needs!




Meetings, Bloody Meetings!

angry-meeting-dollarMeetings are supposed to be an organised process facilitating good decisions, involving several people with a common goal: too many of us spend too much time in meetings that don’t deliver, are frustrating, or just rubbish.

And they’re hard to change from the inside, aren’t they?  First you have to realise they’re a problem, then work out what’s wrong with them in a coherent way you can communicate, then come up with a way to fix them that won’t terminally offend or bore everyone else involved.

There’s no generic solution, because no problem is common to every meeting, but here’s a few ideas that might make your meeting* better:

  • Adopt the minimum necessary standing orders**, make sure everyone’s familiar with them, and make sure the Chair sticks to them;
  • Hold a regular planning day for the Committee/Board – say, once a year – facilitated by someone external, so all members can participate fully, including the Chair.  This helps develop a shared purpose and focus for future meetings;
  • There must be a strategy, or plan, or achievable and defined objective for every group that meets – otherwise, what’s the point of the meeting?
  • Insist on follow-up of meeting decisions – maybe through an action list circulated for each meeting;
  • Don’t let important decisions get made without members having prior warning and an opportunity to inquire, contemplate, and prepare;
  • Rotate chairing, so less experienced members get to improve their skills;
  • Induct new committee members properly: training in meeting procedures and committee member responsibilities, and a “welcome on board” kit with the constitution, rules, standing orders and forward plan;
  • Insist reports include clear and specific recommendations reflecting the issues raised by the report;
  • Discuss only those recommendations – otherwise you end up nit-picking your way through the whole report;
  • woman-reporting-meeting-dollarIf reports are verbal, and decisions are made (or not made) based on them, then there needs to be a record of key points made;
  • Check meeting minutes to ensure they reflect all decisions – not the discussion;
  • Ensure meeting business – the agenda – is built around effectively delivering on the agreed strategy;
  • Help keep debate is relevant, robust and respectful;
  • Your rules or standing orders should ensure proxying is rare or prohibited – continuity of involvement is important;
  • Be ready to strictly enforce rules and standing orders, for example when members try to speak three times, or incessantly, or off-topics;
  • At the same time, make sure no member feels excluded from the decision-making process;
  • Support the Chair in delivering on all of these – and keep pushing to ensure they can and do!
  • Take personal responsibility for ensuring meetings function effectively: when they’re not, make appropriate suggestions and interventions.

Sometimes, it is easier to get someone from outside to audit your meetings and provide proposals for improvement – Ethical Consulting Services can help improve your meetings.

… and, here’s a tip: if a subset of members feel they should get together before a meeting and decide how to behave and what to say in the meeting, intending to smother the views of others, then your meetings are a failure, guaranteed.



* Particularly committee or board meetings
** Supremacy of the Chair, speaking time limits, no speaking twice in one debate, speaking only to motions, and a few others depending on the nature of your meeting.  Here’s a draft template for standing orders that you’re welcome to use – change it as required!