Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My Committee Hearing Observations on the 27th September

I have found that studying this Committee Hearing has given me further insight into the world of lobbying.

On this particular day, the hearing was opened by addressing two petitions which had been put forward to the government for discussion. In particular, there was a petition objecting to the sale of a portion of State Park land to build a housing development. This petition was created by a member of the public who is not a member of parliament. This indicated to me that the issue doesn’t need to be particularly large scale or make a good news story, and that it is potentially possible for anyone to have their concerns brought before parliament. It also made me wonder if this particular person had any contacts within Parliament who would have helped her petition to be pushed to the forefront.

A broad spectrum of current affairs was addressed during the Committee Hearing. Everything from the civil unrest in Burma to the deteriorating state of the New South Wales Princess Highway were discussed.

While the hearing it is set in a very formal arena, with formal dress and formal order of proceedings, the communication appears very informal and sometimes malicious. It is a time for politicians to confront each other face to face about issues, and to gain an immediate response from their opposition. The interaction between parties is interesting for the public to witness as the public usually only sees political debate through the media, where it is acting almost as a liaison or middle man for political debate.

I noticed in particular the repeated reference to various party members having ‘friends’ who could help them out with certain projects and plans. This made me think back to the process of lobbying, where networking and making contacts is paramount to being successful. It shows the importance that friendship and alliances play in politics, and this is an important observation when it comes to lobbying, as it was clear that the people you know has a significant influence on the amount of time and interest is placed on the issues you want to address.

I focused my attention on the debate around the Trade Union Movement. The Honourable Amanda Fazio spoke about the refurbishment of the Sydney Trades Hall. The Hall was refurbished after a campaign orchestrated by the Trade Union movement for the Labor Party. This indicated to me that lobbying goes on at all levels of politics, and lobbying can be directed at the Opposition Party and be successful. It is therefore important not to forget about the Opposition when lobbying, as they could be an important influence of the lobbying process.

This Government Committee Hearing has also revealed to me the part that the media plays in politics. As I mentioned previously, so many public affairs issues were discussed and debated during this session, but not all these issues are broadcast by the media, meaning the public only sees and understands part of the picture. This is another aspect to consider when lobbying. If you want your campaign to reach the public through the media, you have to lobby at a scale that will be big enough for the media to deem newsworthy.