Swan spends to leave Labor legacy in school education and DisabilityCare – but cuts elsewhere to deliver surplus in four years
Budgets give governments the opportunity to re-launch themselves to the voting public. And if ever a government needed re-launching it’s this one. Despite its many worthy and good policy triumphs, for reasons that are too well-traversed to reprise here voters appear ready to reject Labor on Saturday, 14 September. So this budget was the last big set piece opportunity the Gillard Government had to set out its claims on power before the election campaign proper kicks off in just over 11 weeks, and the last opportunity it largely controlled.
Treasurer Wayne Swan’s sixth and quite possibly last budget was structured to protect as many of the Government’s landmark policies as possible: by setting out the decade-long costs of some of the Government’s initiatives he has made it that much harder for a likely Treasurer Joe Hockey to cut treasured reforms like DisabilityCare Australia and the education funding changes named for a prominent Sydney businessman; by attaching $24 billion in infrastructure investment to projects voters and Liberal premiers actually want Swan is building a legacy for himself and the PM that is unlikely to be dismantled in any substantial way.
After last year announcing four years of surpluses, a statement which he has since had to go back on, the Treasurer this year has charted a “a pathway to surplus” that will see a deficit in the current financial year, the budget year and the year after, a balanced budget in 2015-16, and a budget written in black ink only in 2016-17. Justifying this, he says the European way, the way of austerity is “not the Australian way”.
But despite that sentiment this is not the usual pre-election budget of tax cuts, assorted ‘bonuses’ and pension increases. There are tax increases – most notably the already announced ½ per cent increase to the Medicare levy to pay for DisabilityCare Australia, and a crackdown on corporate tax loopholes that not many voters will worry about – but only modest overall spending increases.
Peter Costello’s baby bonus is to be abolished and replaced with a much smaller allowance under Family Tax Benefit A, which will provide a tax break of just $2,000 following the birth of a first child and $1,000 for any further children, which might be considered a brave decision in an election year. These “structural changes” as the Treasury calls them are part of a steady unwinding of the Howard-Costello era entitlements – some voters might be angry to see them go but Hockey will be secretly pleased, making his probable job post 14 September that much easier.
But perhaps the bravest decision of this budget is that to introduce paid parking to all Australian Government owned car parks on National Land in the ACT suburbs of Parkes, Barton, Russell and Acton, which is estimated to bring in $73.3 million over three years. The outrage in Canberra has already begun.
Sydney: February 6, 2013 – Parker & Partners (P&P), the public affairs arm of Ogilvy Public Relations Australia, has boosted its government relations capacity on the ground in Canberra in the lead up to the September 14 Federal election.
Michael Hartmann joins P&P immediately in the newly created role of Director – Government Relations based in Canberra. Michael brings strong expertise and connections across the political spectrum and particularly with the Coalition, independents and other minor parties. He is charged with driving business growth and cementing P&P’s government relations credentials in the nation’s capital.
“Michael is a great asset to the team,” said Mathew Jones, Managing Director, Parker & Partners. “We are confident his drive and commitment to seeking new business will pay early dividends in what’s quickly shaping up to be an exciting election year.
“Michael’s new directive will complement P&P’s already renowned public affairs practice and provide current and prospective clients with an enviable level of public affairs and government relations expertise.”
Hartmann brings to P&P a wealth of experience in Government liaison covering such diverse industry sectors as agriculture, innovation and higher education.
His previous Canberra-based roles include Deputy Director of the Cattle Council of Australia, CEO of Cooperative Research Centres Association, and Director of Communication and Government Relations at Universities Australia (UA) – the peak body representing the university sector.
While at UA he significantly increased the presence and influence of Australia’s vice-chancellors in Canberra and contributed to a number of policy wins, including the Government’s decision to continue the core work of Australian Learning and Teaching Council following it’s disbanding, and driving the successful review of regional youth allowance.
“As government-relations have become both more sophisticated and more highly regulated and scrutinised, it’s vital that practitioners have both the right connections and relationships and the strategic know-how and creativity to help drive clients’ agendas forward,” Mr Jones said.
“Michael has both of those attributes in spades, and we’re looking forward to the impact he’ll create in Canberra in coming months.”
Ogilvy Public Relations is a joint venture between WPP and STW Group, Australia’s leading marketing content and communication services group.
For further information, please contact:
Sandra Renowden, STW PR on 0403 823 218
Note to Editors: hi-res image available on request
About Ogilvy Public Relations
Ogilvy Public Relations (Ogilvy PR) is a global, multi-disciplinary communications leader operating in more than 85 offices across six continents. In 2012, Ogilvy was named Cannes Lions Network of the Year and Most Effective Agency Network by the Effie Global Effectiveness Index, named Public Affairs Consultancy of the Year by the Holmes Report, won Consumer Consultancy of the Year in Asia Pacific (Holmes Report), and won the WPP global, top award (WPPed Cream, Crème de la Crème) for the fifth time in six years. Ogilvy PR integrates deeply with all Ogilvy & Mather disciplines (advertising, direct marketing, activation, promotional, digital and entertainment) through the proprietary Ogilvy Fusion™ approach to delivering comprehensive, business solutions through content creation, community building, and communications with measurable results. Ogilvy PR is a unit of Ogilvy & Mather, a WPP company (NASDAQ: WPPGY), and one of the largest marketing communications companies in the world. For more information, visit our website at www.ogilvypr.com or follow us on Twitter at @ogilvypr.
Parker & Partners won the award for their work with Bell Shakespeare, taking out the award over strong competition. Managing Director, Sarah Cruickshank accepted the award on behalf of the team on 20 January at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong.
Bell Shakespeare is Australia’s national theatre company founded on the ideals of uninhibited access to the great classics for as many Australians as possible. Their flagship education programme, Actors At Work involves young actors touring Australia and delivering live performances to schools. With the help of government funding, many of these performances are delivered on a discounted or free-of-charge basis to schools disadvantaged by small numbers of students, remoteness, and socio-economic disadvantage.
Changes to government funding arrangements put the continuation of the Actors at Work programme under threat beyond 2010. Parker & Partners devised and executed a strategy designed to ensure continued funding for Actors at Work, thereby allowing Bell to continue the ‘reach’ of the program into remote and disadvantaged schools. This strategy was successful, allowing Actors At Work to continue in 2011. As a result, hundreds of schools and thousands of students benefited from an Actors At Work performance, many of whom would not otherwise have had the opportunity.
This also provided the Company with certainty for a further 12 months, allowing them time to plan for the long-term future of the programme.
One of the early initiatives of Kevin Rudd’s Government was to set up a Register of Lobbyists, an idea that was quickly copied by every state government. The registers list the clients of government relations firms, providing a level of transparency about who is working for whom.
The registers came about following a number of controversial episodes in which lobbyists (usually ex-politicians) were given privileged access to government decision makers, were seen to have undue or improper influence on government decision making, or were awarded whopping great success fees when the government made a decision in favour of their client.
Currently the registers cover third party lobbyists (consultancies like Parker & Partners who are hired by organisations to help navigate the halls of government) but not ‘in-house’ lobbyists (individuals on the payroll with the specific task of government relations) or professional services organisations (law and accountancy firms who lobby on behalf of their clients), but this is likely to change.
Anomalies aside, moves to make the business of lobbying government more transparent should be welcomed by professional government relations organisations. The era of government relations firms providing access based on contacts (the ‘maaaate’ school of government relations) is rapidly coming to an end.
Indeed, many politicians say that organisations don’t need to hire a lobbyist to get a meeting, and most legitimate organisations with a real issue can get ministerial time. Where the modern government relations consultancy adds value is building a coherent and thought-through public affairs strategy for government engagement.
This can involve winning third party support, running a targeted media campaign, undertaking community initiatives, or flying a kite (flagging an issue to test public reaction). There’s nothing sinister about using these tactics to influence politicians – that’s why it’s called politics.
And doing it in the knowledge that the community knows who you’re working for only ensures the continuing legitimacy of government relations.
By Mathew Jones.
Ogilvy PR would like to congratulate Parker & Partners for winning the Gold Standard in Government Relations at the 2009 Gold Standard Awards. Managing Director, Sarah Cruickshank attended the ceremony on February 4 at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong, to accept the award on behalf of the team. Parker & Partners won the award for their outstanding government relations campaign working with Veolia Environmental Services and Australian Landfill Owners Association.
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.