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How ready are you for the Federal Election?

We now have a Federal Election confirmed for May 18.

Some may view this caretaker period, as a ‘holding period’ where not much engagement occurs as we wait for the clarity of an election outcome.

But waiting for an election result before engaging could mean your issue is considered too late and that you are not consulted in a crucial policy development stage. Politicians on all sides, whether it be a new minister of a minister with a new portfolio are always keen to hit the ground running and prove their worth.

Here are some simple steps to ensure the politicians making key decisions in your industry after the election are aware of your business or organisation and its priorities.

Before the election:

  • Stakeholder mapping – Before you rush off to organise meetings with ministers (or their offices) it’s important to identify and prioritise your stakeholders and prepare a tailored approach and key messages for each engagement. This should include all ministers/shadow ministers who are either potentially involved in decision-making in your industry or who may influence these processes.
  • Strategy sessions – It’s important to know your message and to be able to tailor it to for the greatest influence. Identifying your strategic priorities is important to ensure targeted and effective engagement.
  • Be influential – Undertake media or stakeholder training if you are hoping to put an issue into the public arena. Having the attention of the media or the community is a great way to elevate your issue during a campaign.
  • Be informed and track commitments – Don’t assume any new minister is going to fight the same battles as the last. The more informed you are the better chance you will have to influence policy announcements.
  • Engage, engage, engage – start to attend events and network now. Election periods are a great time to secure funding. For example: recently Tanya Plibersek announced a $50,000 grant for Wallinston Primary School after being lobbied at her recent Perth visit.

After the election:

  • Letters to outgoing and incoming ministers – There will be fan mail (otherwise known as “congratulatory letters”) and farewell and thank you notes arriving in plentiful supply. Keep yours short and simple – do not use this as a way of raising niche issues!
  • Secure a meeting – It won’t happen immediately but if you have established a connection with a minister early, you should be able to secure a meeting within the first month. Use this to re-establish the relationship and help the minister to understand your issues. Remember they may not have the same in-depth industry knowledge as you, and the portfolio content can be overwhelming.
  • Prepare collateral to support the Minister – the simplest way to get your point across, and to ensure those points stay front and centre after you’ve left the room, is to prepare a one-page briefing note. Be clear, concise and compelling.

It takes time for new ministers to establish how they want to manage their portfolios, how they want to articulate specific policy, and how they want to set out their priorities.

By providing them with advice, information and support you will help cement your relationships for the next three year term of government.  

Jennifer Kirk is an Associate Director in Cannings Purple’s Government Relations team and spent more than seven years working for the Commonwealth government, including leading stakeholder and regional engagement on important economy policy reform during her time in the Treasury Perth office. Contact Jennifer.

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