METHODS being used to lobby politicians and would-be politicians by Mornington Peninsula Shire are outlined in a four-year advocacy strategy.
Adopted by council at its Tuesday 6 September meeting, the strategy – without mentioning the word lobbying – outlines how it “advocates” and details how this can be reinforced by “community”.
“The best advocates for change are people who can tell a personal story that move politicians, political candidates and decision-makers to action,” the strategy states.
The shire’s “range of strategies to advocate for outcomes across our community” rely on community engagement; campaigns and “supporting collateral”; “direct advocacy” to MPs and election candidates; public media campaigns; making submission to state and federal governments; “submitting funding bids”; and “aligning our advocacy with peak bodies where appropriate”.
“The strategy will be a useful source of information for the community, internal colleagues and external partners, to help them understand why and how the council advocates,” advocacy facilitator Emma Lindsay said.
A large amount of “advocacy material” – projects and issues – had been produced to “take advantage of the political landscape in 2022 and the funding opportunities aligned to the federal and state elections”.
Lindsay said “specific community engagement” had not been made over the advocacy strategy as its list of issues and projects “were informed by feedback from community consultation”.
Along with its advocacy strategy council last week also adopted a policy setting protocols to guide councillors and staff when dealing with professional lobbyists.
Governance manager Pam Vercoe said the policy would “ensure a reporting mechanism is developed to maintain transparency and accountability in decision making”.
Under the policy councillors and managers must make a record of all lobbying and report it to the governance department. The “activity” would then be added to the shire’s lobbyists register and published on the shire website.
The shire is now focussed on obtaining election promises, or “pledges”, from candidates in the November state election (“Shire’s ‘shout out’ lobbying” The News 6/9/22).
Similar lobbying in the lead-up to the May federal election elicited varying promises from candidates in the Flinders electorate, $26.735 million from the Liberal Party and $500,000 from Labor. However, although the Liberal candidate Zoe McKenzie won the seat, her party did not win government.
Labor’s candidate in neighbouring Dunkley, Peta Murphy, also won and her party formed government so the pressure will now be on her to provide the $15m she pledged to upgrade the Emil Madsen Reserve, Mount Eliza and $1.5m for Mount Eliza Secondary College.
“The state government spends billions of dollars a year on capital works and infrastructure, it’s raining cash out there and the Mornington Peninsula isn’t getting wet,” Cr Steve Holland said.
“We need every single resident to get on board, to add their voice to the conversation, whatever they are passionate about in their community, and tell the candidates running in the upcoming State Election exactly which projects we want delivered on the peninsula.
“The peninsula deserves more, we haven’t been getting our fair share from successive state governments.”