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Five things to remember for 2023

17 January 2023 at 12:22 pm
Neil Pharaoh
As we start to awaken from our holiday slumber and think of the year ahead, what are five key things to consider in the world of government engagement in 2023?

Neil Pharaoh | 17 January 2023 at 12:22 pm


Five things to remember for 2023
17 January 2023 at 12:22 pm

As we start to awaken from our holiday slumber and think of the year ahead, what are five key things to consider in the world of government engagement in 2023?

The start of a new year is a great time for resolutions, and for 2023 if you have been delaying creating, implementing and executing a government engagement, advocacy and campaign strategy, now is the time to start! This week’s column will dive into the top five things happening in the world of government engagement across 2023, with a few hints and tips along the way.

First off the bat is the NSW election. Australia’s most populous state goes to the polls on 25 March, in what will be an interesting election, still at odds and evens as to who might win. On one side we have a Liberal incumbent government reaching for their fourth term in power. While the Liberal National Party has changed premiers a few times since 2011, Labor has recovered substantially since its 2011 election thumping (its worst result since 1898), winning just 20 seats in the lower house, though it holds 36 today. 

The NSW election holds substantial sway in 2023. If the Coalition holds on, it will show that walking a sensible middle road on things like climate could be a path back for the Coalition in other states. If Labor picks up Australia’s largest state, it will create almost wall-to-wall Labor governments (except for Tasmania), which could accelerate a large number of policies.

Regardless of the outcome, big picture policies which straddle both state and federal government could be up for reform—housing, education, health and similar may all be up for discussion regardless of the NSW result – and early media from Dan Andrews in Victoria around Medicare could be a taste of things to come.

The second factor to watch in 2023 is the “middle year” of the electoral cycle for the federal government. With our insanely short three-year election cycles (most states are now four years), Albo and his team will be entering their “middle year”, where the honeymoon period may be over, though no sign of this happening as yet. With no election to prepare for yet, we can expect tough decisions, big reforms, and the opportunity to set a new tone politically. How social purpose organisations set up, align and focus on this opportunity with large policy reform will be key across 2023. If you have not mapped your advocacy, regulatory and policy agenda into a short, medium and long term map, now is the time, as some of the seeds for big reforms will be planted in 2023.

Thirdly in 2023, some of our regular “cycles” will return, uninterrupted by elections and campaigns. The federal budget will be handed down in May, but budget papers will be put to bed across February and March. Senate estimates will return in the middle of the year, and we will have a mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) in December. 

For each of these key events in federal budget timelines, you should be mapping your activities before, during and after. This mid-election cycle will also present some stability around things like Parliamentary Friendship Groups, which dissolve at the end of each parliamentary term. 

Often the first year is spent getting these back up and running, and so year two – 2023 – is the opportunity to get runs on the board, presentations and events happening and leverage the stability and certainty of the federal sitting calendar for your benefit. 

The fourth thing to watch in 2023 is the ongoing fiscal and monetary adjusting environment; for those not familiar, the simple explanation is: “fiscal” is what the government taxes and spends, and “monetary” are the adjustments the Reserve Bank makes. These are largely with interest rates, but also with things like “printing money” better known as quantitative easing.

Factors like inflation and interest rates will have huge consequences on the Treasurer’s actions in the federal budget, as well as spending across the social purpose sector. A potential economic downturn may place pressure on certain social purpose sectors, and lift it on others – higher interest rates mean less donations philanthropically, but higher returns on money in the bank – depending on your income and expenses, it could be a rough ride. 

What is interesting across the fiscal cycle though, is high inflation and the current commodities “mini-boom” actually place the budget in a better position than anticipated. If this trend continues, we may see some big reform announcements from Labor, who have realised they have more to spend then they previously thought. That spending though, will be very targeted so as to not stoke inflation further.

If the opportunity presents itself to you, what big problem could you solve without inflationary pressure? This should be a question every board and management team should prepare early in the year. 

Finally, strategists will need to look at the states which are early in their political cycles, and understand their timelines in detail. Both Victoria and South Australia are fresh out of an election (still), but historically speaking the vast majority of social reforms have come out of these southern two states. 

Early alignment of election commitments between their respective state governments and your agenda early will be key, and flagging them as potential bigger plays may be important. Irrelevant of your political views of how the federal Labor government is going, one thing is certain between the states and the feds: the tone has changed. 

This change of tone and improved relationship between the feds and the states will create opportunities, and Victoria and South Australia early in the year, and NSW post-election, will seek to capitalise on this. The question remains, will you? And how?

In summary, here are the big five things to watch out for in 2023:

  • NSW election: what does it mean for you? How are you engaging?
  • The “middle year” for the federal government creates space for ideas, innovation and opportunity: have you stepped into the space?
  • Remember the “normal” government cycles are back, these need to be in all management and board calendars
  • Watch the big picture of fiscal and monetary trends, they may create unexpected opportunities
  • Engage early in Victoria and South Australia, and map out your post NSW election work now.

Tanck is holding a free NSW election briefing webinar for social purposes organisations, to register please visit (, and feel free to download our free NSW election guide at (

Happenings on the Hill is a fortnightly column focusing on all things politics, policy, campaigns, and advocacy. Focusing on both Federal and State & Territory politics, stay tuned for updates around political trends and elections, lobbying and advocacy news, and hints, tips and ideas on government engagement that are specifically written for the social purpose/for purpose sector.

Neil Pharaoh  |  @ProBonoNews

Neil Pharaoh has spent most of his voluntary and professional life in and around social purpose organisations, government, public policy and advocacy.

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