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political-storm

Disruption The new normal

How to stay on top of politics that can impact your business

In a global political environment that is veering towards the highly unpredictable, government relations and keeping track of the political players with the potential to impact your business has never been more important, or challenging.

2015 and 2016 will be remembered as years of seismic change and upheaval to the comfortable traditional political orthodoxy of the Western world. Brexit, Trump, the rise of the right in Europe, failed plebiscites or referenda in Greece, Italy and Colombia, a belligerent populist in the Philippines, the list goes on.

Here at home, a first-term Coalition Government that was expected to romp home in a double dissolution election was lucky to survive. At a State level, we are becoming accustomed to one-term governments.

Much has been, and will continue to be, written about the root causes of this disruption to the previously somewhat predictable course of politics. However, for businesses with exposure to State or Federal Government policies and regulatory actions, the key challenge is to stay both on top of and in touch with the key players on all sides of politics and what drives them.

In such volatile times, it is insufficient to be cosy with one side or another in a dominantly two party system. Equal attention needs to be paid to both major parties, and now to the minor players who are increasingly carrying critical influence. Further, if the right levers are to be used when policy or regulatory proposals present a business threat, there needs to be an understanding of the competing agenda within the parties.

For many businesses, political observation and developing relationships within the political sphere are not core functions. Given the almost frantic modern pace of political change, even some political commentators struggle to remain fully abreast of the sometimes labyrinthine allegiances, dependencies and deal-making; that is where expert advice is becoming valuable.

In the effort to garner fickle electorate support, politicians will sometimes consider actions and reactions with unintended consequences, or scant consideration of commercial impact. Careful and considered engagement may then be required to avoid outcomes that can damage particular businesses or sectors. Simple opposition to a proposal is most often not enough. Clear and well-thought through proposals need to be put forward, cognisant of the political agenda at play and of the need to find workable solutions.

RMK+Associates have spent decades developing a detailed understanding of how our system of government works and building the networks necessary to facilitate political engagement. For businesses with a need to engage with government, or even to simply understand the political drivers and administrative processes, seeking such expert counsel could help avoid significant difficulties emanating from unforeseen political action.

 

JustSayNo

Just Saying NO! persuades no one

By John Kananghinis

Sometimes it is necessary for those in business to convince policy makers of the merits, or otherwise, of a proposed course of action.

It may well be that the natural business reaction in a particular case is to ‘just tell them no’. No, your idea will not make things better. No, your new policy will not create jobs. No, it is not more efficient. No, it will not fix a perceived problem.

The trouble is if the policy makers have invested political capital in effecting change just saying no is what they expect from vested interests. The bare facts of the matter will not necessarily carry the day. What may be required is an appreciation of where the policy makers are coming from and a more nuanced approach that may result in a policy outcome that avoids the worst potential outcomes of a new proposal.

This is basic human nature. Attack generates defence. A consultation that accepts some need for change, which highlights the pitfalls and then goes on to suggest solutions, is far more likely to get a hearing.

When governments talk of  ‘reform’  one thing is certain, there will be changes. They have staked their political futures on it. The task for impacted businesses is, with the benefit of their deep industry knowledge, to highlight areas of unintended consequence and difficulty, and to seek a seat at the table that works on balancing the reform with relative stability.

Of course it may be that business wants the ‘reform’ in question, then it is even more important to be part of the process and not a spectator.

The skills required will be to know what to say to whom, when and how to say it. That is what true ‘lobbying’ is all about. Threats, deals and calling on old friendships don’t and shouldn’t work in a transparent democracy.  Reasoned representations that help policy makers see the real-world impacts of their actions, and suggesting how those impacts can be as positive as possible, do.

ICG and its affiliates can offer decades of experience in working with businesses seeking to communicate and consult with State and Federal Governments on policy reforms and regulatory changes. That experience allows for the development of strategies that engage rather than alienate, strategies that increase the chances of a better outcome.

Lobbying

Lobbying – knowing what case to put to whom

Recently RMKA assisted one of our clients in lobbying policy makers to rectify a commercially detrimental departmental ruling that destroyed a business case for niche high-value local manufacture.

The client had taken the appropriate legal measures to challenge a departmental ruling but had been caught in a technical detail dead-end. To the point where even the legal advisors suggested that a revised policy direction should be sought.

RMKA reframed the matter in clear policy terms with all of the positive and negative implications outlined in language that had public and electoral resonance.  We then engaged with politicians who had a natural stake in a successful outcome and gained their support to take the matter to the appropriate Minister for policy direction.

The result was that the relevant government department was given instructions to work with the client to resolve the matter and to get the local manufacturing case back on track.

The point illustrated is that on occasions it may be more advantageous to present a policy argument to those charged with a broader public interest rather than to further pursue a narrow legal argument.  The trick is to know how to put the policy case forward and to whom to put it.

That’s why, be it a legal or policy argument to be made, the appropriate professionals should be engaged.

RMKA has over 30 years of experience in working with government and is listed on the Australian Government Register of Lobbyists and the Victorian Government Professional Lobbyists Register.

JK

ICG Auto

RMKA Auto tailors solutions for the vehicle industry

Automotive Public Relations by RMKA

The pace of day-to-day business in a dynamic sector such as automotive shows every sign of continuing to increase.

Add to this the tough and competitive nature of the Australian market and it is easy to see why many companies in the automotive sector carry limited specialist resources.

RMKA has identified a need for highly experienced key support services, both strategic and operational, to assist companies operating at all levels of the automotive industry.

The result is the creation of a suite of services that harnesses RMKA’s indepth history and extensive knowledge in automotive communication, and focuses these skills with the benefit of an equally comprehensive experience-base in the automotive business.

RMKA has identified key areas of support where the consultancy can add value by addressing specific communication, marketing and research needs.

RMKA Auto has been created to make it easier for executives in the automotive industry to match their needs to the skills and services that RMKA can bring in helping to meet business objectives.

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