January 17, 2012: Issue: The Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) is an independent research institute committed to research discoveries in the area of childhood disease. With its Westmead headquarters in Western Sydney, the Institute is operating at close to its capacity, limiting the scope of its research. CMRI has plans to build a larger facility to accommodate more scientists and redevelop its headquarters at a cost of approximately $133 million. In late 2010, with the NSW State election just months away, CMRI engaged P&P to secure a state government funding commitment for the redevelopment.
Challenge: With the opinion polls indicating a landslide victory for the NSW Liberal-National Opposition, many stakeholder groups were seeking to elevate their issues with the Opposition Leader, Barry O’Farrell, and his shadow ministers and candidates. P&P needed to make CMRI’s case stand out in this contested space.
Insight: Western Sydney is the home of a number of marginal electorates, as well as an expanding region and a target area for economic growth in NSW.
Creative Idea: Given the importance of Western Sydney to all political parties, we created a good opportunity for them to bolster their marginal seat campaign by funding CMRI’s redevelopment, and its economic and social benefits.
Campaign: The campaign involved first building the case for the benefits of the redevelopment, followed by direct engagement with party leaders, ministers and shadow ministers, as well as candidates in the seat of Parramatta, where the CMRI is based. Tours and the facility were held and decision-makers were taken through the redevelopment plans.
On 21 February, just over one month before the election was held, the Liberal-National coalition announced a $20 million funding commitment for CMRI’s redevelopment. The announcement was made by the now Premier Barry O’Farrell and the now Health Minister Jillian Skinner.
“This commitment from the NSW Liberals & Nationals is a huge boost to children’s health and medical research as well as the economic and social infrastructure of Western Sydney.”
Professor Roger Reddel, Lorimer Dods Professor and CMRI Director.
In mid-2009 a group of respected not-for-profits formed a company called GoodStart to buy ABC Learning, a childcare business that had been in receivership since its very public collapse in 2008. Strong public affairs support was required to promote the bid’s financial, social and business credentials to key stakeholders.
While the individual not-for-profits – the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Benevolent Society, Mission Australia and Social Ventures Australia – had strong reputations in their respective fields, they were not known for running childcare or for their business credentials. A number of other organisations were also interested in buying ABC Learning, including private equity and existing childcare providers.
Four aspects of the bid could be exploited to provide the best chance of success:
• The four not-for-profits possessed powerful brands that were known for decades – and in some cases centuries – of caring for Australia’s less fortunate
• As a not-for-profit GoodStart potentially had access to tax advantages unavailable to other bidders
• To a large part GoodStart’s aims mirrored the Federal Government’s own childcare policies
• The reckless management of ABC Learning by its previous owner had fostered negative community attitudes about large, for-profit childcare operators
Although the final decision on the purchase was the Receivers’, the Federal Government was a key stakeholder and its support would be crucial to the success of the bid. In fact, Government engagement was so successful it ended up lending GoodStart $15 million to complete financing. We supported the bid’s financial advisers in their successful approaches to government to unlock significant tax advantages. We promoted the ‘caring’ nature of the work of the four not-for-profits in the media alongside the involvement of prominent businesspeople and investors. At the same time, the strategic provision to media of publicly available information on competitor bidders assisted in two of those players withdrawing from the process.
GoodStart was announced as the preferred bidder in late December 2009, with the announcement receiving widespread coverage and crucial union endorsement. The finalisation of the sale contract in May 2010 was marked by a media conference with the Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the Minister for Early Childhood Education Kate Ellis and GoodStart CEO Matthew Horton. This also received widespread coverage using compelling images of the ministers with young children at one of the company’s metropolitan childcare centres.
Issue: In February 2009, public affairs agency Parker & Partners was engaged to develop start up communications for a new Australian Government funded ‘world first’ initiative – a nationally networked framework to connect Australia’s biosecurity community.
Working from a Government investment plan and with a newly established Board and team, Parker & Partners created a message platform that describes the essence of a complex concept in simple terms to engage and secure ‘buy in’ of stakeholders for the first time. Parker & Partners developed a comprehensive three year communications strategy and implementation plan, supported by a website, collateral, expansive stakeholder database and engagement plan, media strategy and outreach, and an official launch. In addition to these foundation documents, Parker & Partners has provided the ABIN team with daily strategic counsel and advice on stakeholder engagement and issues management over the past 12 months, as well as conducting media training and preparation for a significant benchmarking research study of the biosecurity community.
Challenge: With a complex concept and stakeholders involving more than 60 agencies, researchers and operational staff across all levels of government and across the diverse sector of human, animal, plant, aquatic and wildlife health, and an extremely low level of awareness of this new initiative, the challenges were significant.
Insight: Our public affairs team’s strategic approach was based on BIO – Building, Informing and Operationalising, focussed around building a story that informs and grows the supporter base and operationalises ABIN into the everyday culture and activity of the biosecurity community.
The logo developed by our design agency reflects the interaction and flow of information between stakeholders within the biosecurity community, strength and dependability, and the integrity and professionalism of the sector.
Parker & Partners distilled the essence of ABIN into five key words that resonate with the biosecurity community: CONNECT, SHARE, USE, CREATE AND GENERATE. Those terms became the cornerstone of all ABIN communications beginning with the simple message that ABIN CONNECTS people across the biosecurity sector to SHARE, CREATE and USE data and tools to GENERATE biosecurity intelligence, and flowing through to ABINs vision and mission and all communications materials.
Campaign: On 16 March, after 13 months of groundwork, Parker & Partners executed a national launch of ABIN at a well-attended event in Parliament House with key stakeholders and the Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry, The Hon Richard Marles MP and key note speaker Mr Roger Beale AO, supported by media outreach.
Outcome: Parker & Partners has become a trusted adviser to the ABIN team. That trust attests to the quality and timeliness of our public affairs agency’s advice and client service, our professional approach and reliability, and our strategic communications and stakeholder engagement expertise.
Veolia Environmental Services and Australian Landfill Owners Association government relations campaign
Organic waste in landfills takes approximately 30 years to decompose, emitting methane (a greenhouse gas significantly more potent than carbon dioxide) throughout that period. By putting a price on carbon emissions the Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme would have made current landfill customers – including ratepayers and local councils – liable for emissions produced from waste deposited as far back as 1980 (known as “legacy waste”) at a cost of millions of dollars a year.
Veolia is one of the largest landfill operators in Australia. The Government had a political mandate to act on climate change and the Minister was firm in her resistance to any changes to the CPRS that would protect business interests. Veolia Environmental Services engaged Parker & Partners to lobby the federal government for the removal of legacy waste from the CPRS legislation as well as to raise the profile of Veolia’s brand within government circles.
Parker & Partners drew on our extensive relationships with Australia’s politicians, bureaucrats and media and found most had not heard of Veolia, and had no understanding of the concept of ‘legacy waste’ or the implications of the CPRS on the waste sector.
We revived the defunct industry think-tank the Barton Group to provide intellectual force and further credibility to the arguments, and we created a new waste industry group, the Australian Landfill Owners Association to lobby government on the issue and to influence media coverage.
- Multiple, targeted government relations engagements and meetings programs;
- Detailed policy and legislative development;
- Extensive journalist briefings and the crafting, dissemination and pitching of media releases and stories;
- Stakeholder relations and coalition-building within the waste industry; and
- Industry leadership and policy consolidation through the establishment of pre-eminent waste industry peak body, the Australian Landfill Owners Association.
In April 2009 the Federal Government announced that emissions from ‘legacy waste’ would be excluded from coverage, making landfill the only sector covered by the CPRS to successfully convince the Government to substantially modify its legislation.
To date, the waste sector is the only CPRS covered sector to successfully convince the Australian Government to substantively modify the proposed CPRS legislation. Other powerful industry lobby groups – coal, minerals, and stationary energy to name but a few – have still had no success in modifying the CPRS legislation.
In terms of broader public affairs outcomes for Veolia, by May 2009 ALOA represented 70 percent of the waste management industry in Australia and was recognised by the Australian Government as the voice of the industry. In addition Veolia’s Director of Sustainability was elected as Secretary and official spokesman for the Association.
To double Emirates’ cap of 49 flights a week to Australia over 7 years via a multifaceted strategy negotiating directly with the federal government, influencing their state ministerial counterparts and all political stakeholders on the positive outcomes this deal would deliver to Australia’s tourism exports sector. To complement the government relations strategy, P&P developed a 360° PA campaign which included strategic media management which shaped broader reporting on aviation policy, leveraging existing partnerships and developing events which highlighted EK commitment and articulated its Australian story.
Our research indicated the need to better articulate Emirates contribution to Australia’s tourism and trade sector, challenge misconceptions, highlight its ongoing investment and the consumer benefits delivered through continued growth.
“Emirates – a Friend of Australia” strategy utilised third party support (e.g. airport CEO’s, influential media, tourism ministers) to assist convincing the Government to support Emirates request for additional services.
Our primary Government target was the Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Services but also key Cabinet Ministers, senior bureaucrats and public servants. We organised media briefings, visits by senior Emirates executives, commissioned significant research and tailored messages to over 100 key stakeholders.
In March 2007, a new agreement allowed Emirates to grow its flights to Australia’s gateways over four years by 71% – a major win for the airline and Australian tourism and trade sectors.