Once big business would meet government officials behind the scenes to put their case, but now it is taking on politicians in the court of public opinion Jonathan Swan tells us in the Fairfax Sundays this morning.

Arguments that once occurred inside politicians’ offices are now routinely aired in loud, public advertising campaigns.

And so the story goes on.

”The amount of corporate advertising aimed at changing government decision-making is quite unprecedented in the 25 years I’ve been working in the game,” said Justin Di Lollo, the managing director of Hawker Britton, a Labor government relations firm.

Those of us with 50 years in the game don’t see things as quite so unprecedented. We remember the Great Dairy Hoax campaign of Marrickville Holdings as it struggled (with ultimate success) against the quotas imposed on the production and sale of margarine. Charles Russell with his Basic Industries Group in the 1960s was every bit as maverick a politically activist multi-millionaire as today’s Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest.

And there have always been banks playing politics in public. As when they united behind Treasurer Billy McMahon to try and stop Black Jsck McEwen’s bid for a government owned development bank or, even earlier, when they fought bank nationalisation.

I doubt that things really have changed, even the fact that older people have longer memories than younger ones.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey