Daniel Stubbs writes: Re. “The Power Index: cracking open the secret world of lobbyists” (Monday, item 3). It’s interesting that Friday’s and Monday’s discussions of lobbyists are skewed, almost totally, towards industry lobbyists. That is, there are few lobbyists, advocates, or what ever they’d like to be called, who represent people, particularly people who may be disadvantaged or marginalised in some way. The closest the Power Index comes is Get Up who, although doing an excellent job of shifting the agenda away from private interests, are a somewhat lone voice. And please don’t try to present the Clubs lobby as anything but rent seeking for the clubs.
Why do we see this lack of voices representing marginalised and/or disadvantaged people? Are organisations like ACOSS (Australian Council of Social Service), NACLC (national ACoSS of Community Legal Centres), St Vincent de Paul, Red Cross, etc, just too busy getting on with the job of delivering services and supporting groups of increasingly marginalised people? Are they not savvy enough? Do they simply lack the resources to spend the enormous amounts of time it takes to effectively lobby in the ways now required (i.e. work the halls of parliament, do the media, service the bureaucrats, etc. Do the media find the material-content of the social justice advocate completely uninteresting and impossible to turn into a headline or a sound bight?
Perhaps the lack of social justice advocacy is in part due to the Australian government’s funding contracts with many of these organisations. These contracts often have clauses in them with varying levels of restriction on the organisation making public comment against the government. In any case all social justice organisations, except Get Up, need to rely on government funding simply because those for whom they advocate are obviously not capable of paying for it.
Further social justice organisations with tax deductibility status risk losing that if they are seen as too political. As a result organisations that might balance the presentations of the industry lobbyists who are simply rent seeking in various ways are taken out of the equation. And public policy decisions are clearly poorer for it.
You Am I:
Andrew McMillen writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 11). Richard wrote:
“National Public Radio of the USA has ‘under-appreciated veteran band’ You and I performing its Song of the Day today…”
Surely you mean You Am I. Be careful, front man Tim Rogers has a history of responding to journalists.