Category Archives: how to lobby
Now the State election has been called – see https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/queensland-state-election-basics/ – the Government moves into what is called “Caretaker Mode”.
Caretaker Mode is all about both maintaining public sector impartiality, and ensuring no decisions or commitments are made which will bind a new, possibly unwilling Government, post-election.
Many public servants interpret this incredibly widely – far more so than is intended or appropriate, and this can be a real nuisance for anyone trying to do business with the State Government.
Official guidelines for the conventions which apply during the caretaker period are set out in the Cabinet Handbook, section 9, here https://www.premiers.qld.gov.au/publications/categories/policies-and-codes/handbooks/cabinet-handbook/caretaker-conventions.aspx.
- Caretaker conventions are merely conventions and not binding at law – but are nearly always adhered to;
- Caretaker period starts the moment the election is called and lasts until either te result is clear or a new Government appointed;
- Things to avoid during the caretaker period: appointments of significance, implementing new policies, entering into major contracts or undertakings;
- Normal Departmental operations are to continue, but with care to ensure there’s no presumption about who will win the election;
- Departments should not at Ministerial request develop new policy initiatives;
- Opposition access to public servants is through requests to the Minister and any such discussions are confidential, but public servants may not discuss the merits of policy options with the Opposition and should keep no official notes;
- Departments prepare two sets of briefing documents for the incoming Government: one for a returned Government, and the other for a new Government;
- All Cabinet documents are readied for destruction;
- All Bills in Parliament lapse and must start again from scratch after the election, and any Acts not yet proclaimed by the Governor must await the intentions of the incoming Government. In some circumstances subordinate legislation may be approved;
- The Premier will determine whether Government advertising campaigns continue – anything highlighting the role of Ministers or covering matters of political controversy are usually stopped;
- Ministers generally don’t go to Council of Australian Governments meetings which occur during the caretaker period.
Here’s a downloadable PDF file for your reading pleasure, courtesy of Ethical Consulting Services! http://bit.ly/2hnbr4p
Posted in Change, Democracy, Election, Government decision-making, how to lobby, Opposition, Parliament, Politics, Premier, Public service, public service decision-making, Queensland, Queensland Government, State Government
Time and again we’ve seen business and community groups, frustrated with a response from Government, take their issue to the Opposition or crossbench Members of Parliament, and ask them to pursue it. Or they say to us “How long do we have to put up with this? Let’s ‘go political’!”
If those non-Government Members of Parliament take up your issue, the nearly inevitable outcome is you lose any capacity for your business/group to deal with the Government.
Why? Because their business too easily becomes proving the Government wrong, not delivering support for your issue. Your business becomes the battlefield.
Once an issue becomes the subject of partisan advocacy it almost always* becomes the subject of partisan claims, demands, and arguments – it is then a political issue; the Government of the day and their opponents thereafter prosecute the case for and against in exactly the same way as they do with any other political hot potato. This means the merits of your issue are forever after in dispute; compromise becomes impossible because it would be characterised as political weakness, or political victory/defeat for one side or the other.
This outcome is just about inevitable, and it is very hard to retrieve the situation – by going to non-Government MPs you are almost always locking yourself into support from one side of politics only, and you are pinning your prospects of success entirely to a change of Government.
This your project is delayed: possibly for years, possibly forever.
We always recommend going to Government with a business case which makes sense to the Government of the day, and sometimes we recommend going to all Parliamentary Parties at once, with arguments constructed to make sense to each Party.
And, a final point about “going political“: it’s nearly always done out of anger and frustration. Your stakeholders deserve a more measured and professional approach.
* There’s an exception to this rule which we’ll cover in a future article: on that rare occasion you can persuade the non-Government Member of Parliament to champion your cause without doing it in a partisan or divisive way.
Click one of these links to take you to that topic/heading:
Why Lobby? http://wp.me/p4xOhB-r
“Why Lobby?” Encore http://wp.me/p4xOhB-A
Who Does It
Who’s a Lobbyist? http://wp.me/p4xOhB-N
Who’s Your Best Lobbyist? http://wp.me/p4xOhB-23
Lobbying: The Dirty Truth https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/lobbying-the-dirty-truth/
Myths & Legends of Lobbying https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/myths-lobbying/
Regulating Lobbyists: Hardly https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/regulating-lobbyists-hardly/
Australian Lobbying: Credibility Fail https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/australian-lobbying-credibility-fail/
Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There! https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/dont-just-do-something/
Strategy & Delusion https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/strategy-delusion/
DON’T Increase Awareness https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/dont-increase-awareness/
Lobbying: 6 Things to Know https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/6-lobbying-things/
Lobbying is Marketing https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/lobbying-is-marketing/
“Get Me The Premier!” https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/get-me-the-premier/
Who’s the Decision-Maker? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/who-decision-maker/
Policy Processes – What You MUST Know
Mysterious & Mysteriouser: How Did THAT Happen? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/mysterious-mysteriouser/
“So When WILL They Decide???” https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/when-will-they-decide/
How’s Your Rat King? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/rat-king/
What IS A “Policy Instrument,” Anyway? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/what-is-policy-instrument/
Getting Ready To Lobby
Lobbying Labor’s Queensland Government: How? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/lobbying-labors-queensland-government-how/
How to Get That Meeting https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/how-to-get-that-meeting/
What if You Can’t Connect with the Decision-Maker? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/cant-reach-decision-makers/
When you meet the Minister … https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/when-you-meet-the-minister/
What To Ask For
Persuading Government: What You Say https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/persuading-government-what-you-say/
What Makes A Policy Good? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/policy-good/
Make Your “Ask” Feasible https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/make-your-ask-feasible/
Connecting with Decision-Makers https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/connect-decision-makers/
Tell Government a Story! https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/story-to-government/
Motivating & Persuading https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/motivating-persuading/
Persuading Government: How To Say It https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/persuading-government-how-to-say-it/
The Talking Dead: Say This & Your Project Dies https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/the-talking-dead/
When To Ask
Election Time: Early Birds Get Worms! https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/elections-lobbying-early-birds/
Crisis Management 101 https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/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!
Posted in Australian Government, Change, Communication, Crisis management, Culture, Culture change, Democracy, Election, Federal Government, Government decision-making, Government regulation, Government Relations, how to lobby, Leadership, Lobbying, Lobbyist, Local Government, marketing, Parliament, Planning, Policy, Political tactics, Politics, public service decision-making, Queensland, Queensland Government, State Government, Strategy
An estimated 80% of lobbying is unregulated, unreported and secret, right now. The recommendations before the committee would take the rules that currently apply only to lobbyists who are consultants, and impose them on all of the other lobbyists, too – forcing them to abide by a code of conduct and publicly report contact with Ministers, Ministerial staff, and senior public servants, for example.
But be quick, if you want to have a say.
Back in June, the Palaszczuk Government appointed Professor Peter Coaldrake to conduct a Strategic Review of the Functions of the Integrity Commissioner, included a review of lobbyist regulation: his Report was tabled in State Parliament on 16 July 2015
Parliament’s Finance and Administration Committee has resolved to review the report to consider the recommendations made and comment on other findings, and they are calling for submissions – the closing date Monday 21 September 2015. The Committee may consider holding a public hearing on Wednesday 14 October 2015.
You can find out more, and download the Coaldrake Report, here.
Many people looking for a decision from Government see election time as an opportunity. It can be, but only if you approach it in the right way.
It is true that at election time Governments, parties and candidates are all intent on compiling an attractive and differentiating package of policy and program proposals, and some of them welcome input from industry, community groups and individuals.
However, be warned: capable Governments, political parties and candidates start putting their election policies together a long way out from Election Day, and finalise them months out from Election Day. As a general rule, the bigger the policy announcement or the bigger the budget associated with a policy announcement, the earlier will work commence.
Most advocates looking to make use of election timing as an opportunity to press the case for their particular proposal leave it far, far too late.
What constitutes timeliness varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and depends a lot on the tier of Government with which you are dealing; this makes it impossible to advise a general rule, but a year out from an anticipated Election Day is not necessarily too early to begin advocacy of your proposition.
If you leave your intervention too late, then you have created an additional burden for yourself: as well as proving the validity of your idea or proposal, you will also need to prove that it is of sufficient political or community (i.e. campaigning) importance that the candidate or Party should reopen their policy development processes, and consider incorporating your proposal.
As an outsider to the process you might think that this is quick and easy, but depending on campaign resources and Party resources, and in particular the budgetary impact of your proposal, it can be a significant organisational or time burden to a candidate or a Party late in the campaign, to reopen their policy development processes.
The barriers to raising a new idea in the months immediately before Election Day are substantial.
Sometimes you can’t get to a Government decision-maker – Minister or senior public servant, say – and don’t know why*: often it’s their gatekeepers not appreciating the importance or priority of your issue, sometimes it’s unspoken opposition to what you’re asking, frequently it’s just time or workload**.
How do you break through?
You don’t always have to know exactly what causes the blockage***, in order to get past it – you just need to find someone who can go around the barriers, and persuade the decision-maker – your Champion.
Depending on the issue and circumstances, the kind of Champion you need might be a
- Minister in another portfolio,
- local Member of Parliament in the same jurisdiction (i.e. State or Federal – and it works for Local Government too),
- policy expert in the relevant Department,
- Chief Executive in another Department, or
- policy expert working for an Industry Association or Non-Government Organisation.
It has to be someone with sufficient credibility and sufficient influence to raise the issue competently with the decision-maker.
There’s three things to bear in mind about this “Champions” approach:
- Unless you are difficult to deal with or bad at presenting**** then the goal of your Champion should be to get you a proper meeting with the decision-maker;
- Bearing in mind that first point, sometimes you aren’t the best person to persuade the Champion to get on board, either – if you are aiming for a local MP, for example, then someone in their electorate or who they already know may well be best; and
- You need, both, to persuade your Champion to help you, and get them to the point where they can persuade the decision-maker it’s worth their time.
You’ll therefore need to prepare even more thoroughly for your discussion with your potential Champion, than you will with the decision-maker.
Why not go to their boss instead? Isn’t that quicker and easier?
Unless as a last resort and in extremis, this is normally a really bad idea. Going to the Premier/Prime Minister/Chief Executive over the head of a decision-maker is an investment in long-lasting resentment and poor relations with
- the decision-maker you’ve thwarted,
- every friend that decision-maker has, and
- possibly the decision-maker’s boss who may resent your evading the chain of command.
If you’ve gone around a public servant by going to their Chief Executive or Minister, or a junior Minister by going to the First Minister, you may have killed all prospect of any future co-operation for as long as they are around.
* Sometimes you might understand – but reject as invalid – the reason you can’t get to speak with them.
** Let’s presume you’ve done your research and are chasing the right person.
*** Though, usually, you must find this out at some point.
**** You are never the best judge of this – you should always ask your Champion “Am I the best person to persuade Ms. Such-And-Such? Is there someone better to send?” If there is someone better to present, the goal is to get them to the decision-maker, instead of you.
When you are asking something of Government – a decision, a non-decision, a policy change, that your bid win a tender process, whatever it might be – there’s a right way and a wrong way to ask it. Earlier articles identified the things you need to say, how to say them, and the things you need to avoid saying.
All of those considerations needs to be packaged up into a neat, concise, persuasive Narrative. Once you’ve got your Narrative, every single thing you say and do needs to be directed at persuading Government to accept the truth and necessity of your Narrative. Nothing should stray from or undermine the Narrative.
Many, passionate fanatics in support of their own proposition to Government, find it really hard to understand how to develop a short and focussed Narrative, but when you’re communicating with Government, you have a very small opportunity to get your message across, so you can’t spend time on the things that make your heart burst with pride – unless you already know those things do the same for Government.
In this circumstance, a Narrative:
- is never off the cuff – must be thoroughly prepared;
- must be structured like a story;
- encapsulates and summarises the main facts around the issue;
- encapsulates and summarises your proposal;
- persuades the audience your idea is the best solution to a pressing problem;
- rebuts major alternatives by making clear their inferiority;
- is focussed entirely on the audience’s needs and motivations, not yours;
- resonates with the audience – usually emotionally;
- contains an unambiguous and feasible request; and
- is short – as short as is possible while meeting all of these criteria – you might have only 2 minutes or 250 words, to make your case – our target is usually six or seven two-line sentences*.
Try to write it so you can leave behind a copy of your Narrative when you meet a Government representative – it saves them taking notes, makes you look organised and competent, and reduces the chance of misunderstanding.
You can’t deliver all of that off the cuff; nor can you deliver it if you are clumsy with words, or can’t set aside your passions when drafting or speaking, or if you are mistaken about what motivates your audience. You may need help.
* OK, we’re often enough off-target here, but never by more than 50%
Posted in Change, Communication, Government decision-making, Government Relations, how to lobby, Lobbying, Lobbyist, marketing, Project facilitation, public service decision-making, Stakeholder engagement
Many business and community leaders come to regret sleeping through key social studies/civics classes as kids – they can’t tell which Governments can do what things, and sometimes have only a vague notion there are different levels of Governments*. A client, a couple of years ago, had a project requiring both State and Federal approvals. He found the policies and people at Federal level really aggravating – they had potential to cause project failure. Before he went to see the relevant State Minister, we worked with him to identify issues to be raised, and what he needed to get from the meeting. Instead of those, he complained exclusively about his Federal Government difficulties. At the end, this busy Minister threw his hands in the air and said “There’s nothing I can do to help – these are all Federal issues – good bye!” The self-indulgence of wasting everyone’s time was one thing, but his refusal to understand and work within the different roles of different levels of Government contributed to that project’s demise. Here are three graphics to help you get the difference – in Australia, at least. If you would like copies of these three graphics as PowerPoint slides, please get in touch. * www.metrolyrics.com/tears-before-bedtime-lyrics-elvis-costello.html ** Political tragics like me struggle to understand this lack of enthusiasm for facts Governmental.
Posted in Australian Government, Change, Commonwealth Government, Democracy, Federal Government, Government decision-making, how to lobby, Lobbying, Local Government, Project facilitation, Public service, public service decision-making, State Government, Strategy
When you want something from Government, it has to be something they can deliver.
Sometimes, it is pretty clear whether something can be delivered, or not – you can’t have a State or Local Government do something where the power to do it is exclusively vested in the Federal Government, for example.
Mostly, though, feasibility is a “maybe” rather than a clear “yes” or “no”, in which case you need to work out whether what you want is too hard to get, and whether you must
- seek something else right now, maybe part of what you originally have wanted, which has a greater prospect of being acceptable, or a different way to get your outcome delivered,
- look for it later (say, when the Government has changed, or after a Ministerial reshuffle), or
- abandon your plans altogether.
How can you make such an important business or organisational decision?
- identify where you want to get to (say, the Eiffel Tower)
- list everything that has to come together for you to get there (money, flights, bookings, luggage, time, and so on)
- list everything that might stop you (mechanical problems, rejection of visas, theft, illness, lost luggage, Vladimir Putin’s expansionism, etc)
- identify how you secure every single one of those things that are necessary to get there (use a reputable airline, apply early for visas, buy a suitcase with roller wheels, or whatever it might be)
- identify how/if you can overcome each of the things that will stop you (don’t travel via unstable countries, get vaccinated, have your criminal convictions expunged so your visa application isn’t rejected, for example)
- if there are some you simply can’t overcome, consider whether there’s an alternative destination that might suit you (Adelaide is pretty – the Paris of the Antipodes).
Now you’ve got your plan for getting to the Eiffel Tower!
In the context of your policy feasibility journey,
- the Eiffel Tower is your best case and most ambitious policy outcome – full, speedy and enthusiastic adoption of your idea of product;
- things that have to come together will include taking your idea to the right person, couching it in ways they will find appealing, presenting it credibly, and so on;
- things that might stop your proposal travelling anywhere could include budgetary inflexibility, incompatible Government or Party policy, intransigent stakeholders, electoral unpopularity, opposing factions in the bureaucracy or Party, the Minister’s Chief of Staff doesn’t like you, etc – many of the hurdles to be identified in this research are critically important and all too often are glossed over by enthusiastic proponents of the project;
- securing the necessities for your journey will include having a thoroughly well-developed proposal, an understanding of the structure and priorities of the portfolio, carefully crafted presentation that speaks to your audience, for example;
- overcoming obstacles might include creative* financing, finding ways to secure policy change before advancing your proposal, finding a Champion for your proposal within Government, identifying clear community benefits, and many, many, more.
Assessing feasibility for a significant proposal usually require clear-headed research, and external evaluation and testing – your enthusiasm for your own proposal is guaranteed to blind you to some of the opposition, difficulties and hurdles.
* By which I definitely don’t mean dodgy!
If you don’t have a good understanding of Government and Opposition, it is easy to put your foot wrong and wreck your chances of a successful discussion, when you’re pressing the Government to support your project or policy proposal.
Here’s a few thoughts about the wrong thing:
- Absolute Power – Not every Member of Parliament or public servant has the power to do everything (read more here) and if you ask for something they can’t do, then you look like a dill; for example, legislation may proscribe taking certain actions or making certain decisions – you need to know this before you ask;
- Power Without Glory – The Doctrine of the Separation of Powers is a special and high level constraint on powers saying, amongst other things, that Ministers must not usurp the powers of the Parliament or the Courts; in Australia the Doctrine is imposed by convention*, whilst in other countries it doesn’t exist or is imposed by laws or their constitution;
- Game of Thrones – Public servants and Members of Parliament always have limits on what they may do, imposed by where they are placed in their respective structures, will rarely be interested in interfering in something that is someone else’s role, and rarely have the capacity to do that easily;
- CodeBreaker – All members of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary have codes prescribing how they should work; only the most courageous** amongst them will contemplate stepping outside those codes, and only those prepared to risk prison will propose they should;
- You’re Awful, Muriel – You must start a discussion by presuming your audience knows what they are doing and why, even when you know they are entirely wrong: nothing kills your chance of a productive dialogue quicker than implying or saying directly that a Member of Parliament or public servant doesn’t know what they are talking about, or has been incompetent; you have to find a different way: you must structure the discussion so they see your alternative as better***;
- Lie To Me – Never tell a lie, never assert anything is a fact when there’s any doubt, and never leave out anything important; Telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is your only option, to ensure credibility; telling the truth means you must be very, very sure of your facts, and keep facts entirely separate from opinions;
- Sin Of Omission – it’s worth repeating: never leave out anything important; recognise, too, that you are not necessarily the best judge of what’s important – if there is any chance your audience might see something as important, you must at least mention it in passing;
- Rush To Judgement – Opinions from non-experts are pretty worthless, so don’t offer them unless they are considered, evidence-based expert judgements;
- Don’t Mention The War – Public servants usually operate impartially, and Members of Parliament are experts, so don’t talk about politics unless they invite it – and even then, exercise extreme caution that you tread on no toes;
- The Ant Bully – When you threaten or bully, explicitly or implicitly, you’re saying you lack the facts, lack a good argument, lack ethical standards and maturity, can’t be trusted to stick to a deal, and want to be on the front page of tomorrow’s paper;
- The Guru – keep your ego in check; if too much of what you say is about you, you’re not sufficiently focussed on how your proposal benefits the Government and the public, and you will be building resistance as you build perceptions of your ego;
- The Killing Season – don’t denigrate your opponents or competitors, because you’ll always look like a bully or slimy, egotistical or selfish, and more interested in your own advancement than in good policy.
* One of the biggest flaws in Australian democracy is that this doctrine is not strongly mandated by State and Federal constitutions, which allows authoritarian Governments to accrue too much power at the expense of liberty and democracy. But that discussion is for another time!
** Courageous in the “Yes, Prime Minister” sense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_to_the_People_(Yes,_Prime_Minister)
*** Mike Smith is incredibly grateful to then-Northern Territory Labor Leader Maggie Hickey for teaching this valuable lesson!
Posted in Change, Communication, Culture, Democracy, Ethical, Ethics, Governance, Government decision-making, Government regulation, Government Relations, how to lobby, Lobbying, marketing, Opposition, Planning, Policy, Political tactics, Politics, Public service, public service decision-making, Stakeholder engagement, Strategy