Nino Lalic, Senior Consultant
Businesses should build a constant, consistent and genuine relationship with both major parties. Whatever the outcome of the election on 21st May, there will be personnel and policy changes at the political level and to a lesser extent within the bureaucracy.
The reason for having a good relationship with governments is obvious. They are the decision makers, regulators and those who implement the policies that affect your business and industry.
Government has the extensive resources and expertise of the Australian Public Service (APS) as well as private consulting businesses like the ‘Big Four’. It is important to have a seat at the table wherever decisions are being made to provide ideas, to argue for or against and ideally become a sounding board and trusted stakeholder for government.
This is even more true when dealing with the Opposition. They only have a fraction of the staff that the government gets, no access to the APS (other than the Parliamentary Budget Office, Parliamentary Library and some aligned think-tanks), and a lack of readily available stakeholders which naturally gravitate towards the government of the day.
Building a genuine relationship with the Opposition is easier in terms of access and more welcome as your advice and support is appreciated. You can help design better policies by pointing out potential unintended consequences, provide a different and perhaps fresh perspective or just frank and honest feedback. This is a process that will help formulate better and more balanced polices that will then serve to deliver a better outcome for Australia.
You get to build relationships with staffers, Shadow Ministers and party officials who (if they’re party is successful) will end up the Chief of Staff, Ministers, and senior decision makers, who will have a direct impact on not just your industry but the whole community.
Many organisations have already engaged like this with the current Labor Opposition and will reap the fruits of this relationship building exercise should Labor win on 21st May. Many haven’t, and while this makes your job at engaging with an incoming government somewhat harder – it’s not impossible.
It’s what a good government relations consultant can do – use some of their networks and relationships to build that bridge from where you are now to where you want your relationship with an incoming government to be – constant, consistent and genuine.