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Keeping Your Ducks in a Row

Dec 05, 2018

Every two weeks I get the chance to chat to the social sector about what’s happening in federal Parliament and what you should be doing in the run-up to the next general election. You might think there may not be enough to talk about with a two-week turnaround, but golly gee there is plenty.

So what’s happened in the last two weeks?


  • Recently elected Sydney independent MP Kerryn Phelps took her seat in the federal Parliament last week, moving the Morrison government into “minority” government status.
  • Victorian Liberal MP Julia Banks moved to the crossbench citing her concerns around the treatment of women within the Coalition.
  • Just yesterday former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull made a dramatic intervention around the fate of the Liberal MP for the Sydney seat of Hughes Craig Kelly, placing himself at odds with Scott Morrison around the issue of a preselection. Craig Kelly himself may also move to the crossbench this week.
  • Speaking with Fran Kelly on Radio National Breakfast, Malcolm Turnbull also revealed that prior to his removal, his government had been set to hold a poll on 2 March, prior to the New South Wales election.
  • And Scott Morrison spent last weekend at the G20 in Argentina and was largely questioned about domestic issues by the Australian press-pack while world leaders including Trump and Merkel displayed some confusion around the revolving door of the top job in Australian politics.


It is truly hard to keep up with the fast pace of what’s happening federally – the Canberra press gallery, who are good at reading tea leaves, are themselves looking befuddled.

The social sector needs to remain ready to deal with a range of possible outcomes at the next federal election – from a hung Parliament or one of the two major parties winning the poll. I’ve repeatedly said that even though the polls have been favouring a Labor victory the volatile nature of the electorate and the rise of independents and minor parties has demonstrated that election results are hard to predict.

So, for you and your organisation that means:

  • Just do it! Get your ducks in a row and keep them that way – get organised and don’t wait until after the election to engage. If there is a change of government having made contact with the opposition before the election will help get your issues on Labor’s radar early.
  • Engaging with the federal government doesn’t just mean face-to-face meetings with MPs – it could also be a telephone meeting with a key adviser to scope out the issue and what they think about it.
  • Prepare one-pagers on important programs or policies that you need support for and get them in front of anyone and everyone who matters including Coalition ministers and backbenchers, key opposition MPs, important crossbenchers and independent MPs and relevant senior public servants.
  • Use the media to support your mission/campaign! Between now and whenever the election is held media will be on high-alert around election-related stories – yours included! Local, metro and national print, radio, TV and online media will be covering the election extensively so make sure you get in on the action. Just remember that Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) guidelines stipulate that registered charities cannot be party-political in any media commentary.


The other important thing to factor in is how to get involved with pre-election announcements.

This is how to do it:

  • Both the Coalition and Labor are actively looking for positive policy or program announcements they can make that provides them with good news – your job is to suggest what the announcements could be!
  • If your idea is low-cost, cost-neutral or budget-positive, if the program could be rolled-out over a number of years with the first year being a small outlay, or if you have an idea to bring a whole cohort of organisations on board for a project you’re probably onto a winner.
  • You need to do the work now, before Christmas, as the Coalition is identifying budget initiatives for the 2 April budget and Labor is preparing their own spending priorities.
  • This involves preparing a short three-to-five page submission outlining why the idea needs support, how the program will work, what money is required and how it will be spent, and get that in front of the relevant minister and shadow minister quickly (before Christmas) and see how you fare – it’s not too late and if you don’t try you’ll never know!


Good luck and just remember politicians are duty bound to listen, it’s their day job.

If you want help to navigate the political landscape, or a winning engagement strategy, get in touch with us!

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