Category Archives: Lobbying

Lobbying: When Do I Go Political?

When should you make your business or community issue political?  “Never” is the answer from which you should start.

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.

 

 

 

Last Week in Queensland – 5 September 2016

last-week-logo-2In Queensland last week*: more detail of anti-gang laws, reports of conflict in Cabinet, and 17-year-olds to move out of adult prisons.

 

Governing

 

The Opposition and Crossbench

robbie-katter

Robbie Katter MP, on the right

 

Politics

 

Community

 

Economy and Infrastructure

 

Parliamentparl house

  • Queensland’s Parliament next sits from Tuesday 13 September to Thursday 15 September
  • The Queensland Parliament’s summary of what’s new, including newly-introduced and passed legislation, is here www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/whats-new
  • Both Houses of Federal Parliament next sit from Monday 12 September to Thursday 1 September – see www.aph.gov.au

 

 

 

 

* 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.

 

 

Happy Anniversary To Us!

_LDP8380-cropped and smallAlmost exactly a year ago, Stephen Robertson and Mike Smith relaunched Ethical Consulting Services as a partnership.

We’re still having fun helping clients with

  • Governance and meeting skills
  • Government and stakeholder relations
  • Project and inbound investment facilitation
  • Branding, marketing, campaigns, and communication

… and training in any of the above!

 

 

Last Week in Queensland – 14 March 2016

last-week-logo-2Last week*, Labor’s minority Queensland Government became more of a minority, an early State Election became a stronger possibility, and the Government, labelled do-nothing, released their four-year Infrastructure Plan and five-year Women’s Strategy.  Horrific levels of child abuse were documented in remote communities.  Mixed signals about the state of the Queensland economy were received, as commentators started to acknowledge the infrastructure and Government spending needed far outstrip what’s available.  Chaos at Queensland Nickel means no-one yet knows whether it has a future, let alone what that future might be.

Governing

 

The Opposition

 

Politics

 

Community

 

Economy and Infrastructure

 

Opening Parliament 2015Parliament

  • Queensland’s Parliament next sits this week, from Tuesday 15 March 2016 to Thursday 17 March, then not again until April 19.
  • The Parliament’s summary of what’s new, including newly-introduced and passed legislation, is here www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/whats-new.
  • The Federal Parliament next sits – both Houses – on Tuesday 15 March 2016 – see www.aph.gov.au.

 

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

Why Lobby? http://wp.me/p4xOhB-r

“Why Lobby?” Encore http://wp.me/p4xOhB-A

Take me back to the top of this article!

Who Does It

Who’s a Lobbyist? http://wp.me/p4xOhB-N

Who’s Your Best Lobbyist? http://wp.me/p4xOhB-23

Take me back to the top of this article!

Reality Bites

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/

Dogbert Does 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/

Take me back to the top of this article!

Strategy

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/

Take me back to the top of this article!

burke-grillThe Basics

Lobbying: 6 Things to Know https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/6-lobbying-things/

Lobbyists Do WHAT? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/lobbyists-do-what/

Lobbying is Marketing https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/lobbying-is-marketing/

Take me back to the top of this article!

Targeting

“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/

Take me back to the top of this article!

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/

From Althaus, Bridgman and Davis

From Althaus, Bridgman and Davis

How’s Your Rat King? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/rat-king/

The Uber-Rat-King https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/the-uber-rat-king/

What IS A “Policy Instrument,” Anyway? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/what-is-policy-instrument/

Sax vs. Cymbals https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/sax-vs-cymbals/

Take me back to the top of this article!

Getting Ready To Lobby

Lobbying Labor’s Queensland Government: How? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/lobbying-labors-queensland-government-how/

Take me back to the top of this article!

The Meeting

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/

Take me back to the top of this article!

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/

Take me back to the top of this article!

agressive-manHow To Ask For It

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/

Take me back to the top of this article!

When To Ask

Election Time: Early Birds Get Worms!  https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/elections-lobbying-early-birds/

Take me back to the top of this article!

Specialties

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!
Take me back to the top of this article!

 

Last Week in Queensland – 25 January 2016

last_week_in_qld_160125With most of Ethical Consulting Services’ current clients Queensland-based, we’ve decided to trial production of a short-form summary of major political and related news from the previous 7 days in Queensland.

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

You can access the first edition here – we hope you find it useful and we hope you will let us know what you think!

In future we’re intending that this will be published each Monday, if there is enough interest.

 

 

Lobbying & Integrity – Government Wants You!

Dogbert Does LobbyingThere’s a Queensland Parliamentary Committee asking for your views on lobbying in Queensland – the outcome might significantly improve transparency and integrity in Government decision-making.

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.

 

 

Elections & Lobbying: Early Birds Get Worms

early_bird_smallTo be the cat that’s got the cream, remember that the early bird definitely gets the worm … when it comes to ensuring an election campaign embraces your policy proposal.

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.

cat_cream_smallAs 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.

 

 

Can’t Reach Decision-Makers?

breakthrough-smlSometimes 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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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
  3. 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?

Usually, no!

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.

 

The Story You Sell To Government

story_timeWhen 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%