Sep 5, 2014

So you wanna be a lobbyist …

Reading headlines about ICAC and Eddie Obeid might have you thinking successful lobbying is mostly graft with some slippery footwork thrown in. But Alistair Nicholas, senior adviser in the government relations and public affairs practice of Weber Shandwick Australia, says there's quite a bit more to it.

Lobbying, in the popular imagination, is a profession made up of ex-politicians and former political staffers who act, at best, as door-openers to current politicians and their staffers. In its worst permutation the perception is that these former politicians and staffers are bagmen to those in power. But the real day-to-day picture is a bit more complex.

Lobbyists thrive on corruption and line politicians’ pockets, right?

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8 thoughts on “So you wanna be a lobbyist …

  1. James Haughton

    0. Check whether the client is filthy rich.

  2. paddy

    Just out of curiosity, who paid the author for this article?
    Weber Shandwick Australia, or Crikey?

  3. Gavin Moodie

    I agree that this is the misleading spin which one typically expects from a lobbyist. Even within their limited and self interested terms, the author should have dealt with 2 issues.

    Lobbyists employed by corporations such as BHP don’t have to be registered.

    The most prominent lobbying campaigns have been disgraceful distortions of democracy: the tobacco lobby for the last 2 decades, the mostly foreign mining industry’s opposition to the miners’ tax, the pokie operators’ opposition to gambling limits, and the big polluters’ and fellow travellers’ denial of global warming and opposition to emission trading and other effective forms of reduction.

  4. klewso

    No thanks, I still have a functioning self-esteem.

  5. Kevin Herbert

    One has to pity Gavin Moodie, klewso & paddy.

    Their doctrinaire responses show that they didn’t actually read or understand what this article says.

    Their naive & fixed attitudes are part of the problem that confronts politics in 2014.

    Maybe they can provide a practical alternative system of corporate & interest group representation that will provide the outcomes they see as necessary.

    I won’t be holding my breath.

  6. Gavin Moodie

    Ah, personal attacks, rather more comforting to the attacker’s ego, one presumes, than persuasive.

    One alternative would be to register all lobbyists, including those working for corporations, as I implied.

    Another improvement would be to publish the diaries of all cabinet ministers, as is done in other countries.

    Another would be to legislate truth in political advertising, as it is already legislated for commercial advertising.

  7. Kevin Herbert

    Gavin Moodie:
    Your out of hand dismissal of this informative article shows your lack of understanding of a lobbyist’s modus operandi in Oz. Its author has provided a good summary of the lobbying process in Oz, and you shit can it automatically.

    Truth in political advertising sounds like a wondrous scheme…who would be the final arbiter of truth in the party political sense….the High Court?

    As for your ‘disgraceful distortions of democracy’:

    1. The tobacco lobby got what it deserved, so democracy worked on that occasion.
    2. Notwithstanding the mining industry’s right to represent its views however it wishes, for mine it was the dithering of Rudd & co, and in particular their strange decision not to consult the industry before making their major policy announcement, that torpedoed the tax. Nothing particularly undemocratic about this example.
    3. As for the “the big polluters’ and fellow travellers’ denial of global warming…”, surely they have a democratic right to express their views, which for the record don’t deny that there’s global warming – just that it is not of the catastrophic proportions as claimed by the environmental movement. My independent research has arrived at the same decision.

    Why would in house lobbyists register? If you work for a company in government relations, how is it of public interest or even needing clarification that you’re representing that company’s interests when meeting with public figures?

  8. Gavin Moodie

    Yes, the courts would adjudicate claims of falsity in political advertising, as they currently adjudicate claims for misleading or deceptive conduct in trade or commerce.

    The tobacco industry delayed measures to reduce smoking by decades, resulting in thousands of needless deaths.

    So the millions of dollars spent by the mining industry falsely threatening a capital strike had no effect on Rudd’s prime ministership?

    The point of these and other examples is that lobbyists not only present their clients’ interests, they do so by lying. Yet this apologia for lobbyists does not even acknowledge this corruption of politics, let alone propose measures for curbing it.

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