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We are one quarter into the federal govt term

30 January 2023 at 3:50 pm
Neil Pharaoh
Despite the tongue in cheek time-marker, we should be looking ahead to develop organisational strategies in line with government timelines, writes Neil Pharaoh. 

Neil Pharaoh | 30 January 2023 at 3:50 pm


We are one quarter into the federal govt term
30 January 2023 at 3:50 pm

Despite the tongue in cheek time-marker, we should be looking ahead to develop organisational strategies in line with government timelines, writes Neil Pharaoh. 

While said in jest, we are almost one quarter of the the way through the current federal government term, being strategic now will make a big difference for the election in 2025. 

Remember that there is already less than 1000 days, and around 650 workdays (when you remove weekends and holidays), until the next election.  

While it may come as a shock, being one quarter of the way through the first term of the Albanese Labor government should not be a big thing for those looking ahead in their political planning (assuming of course we go to near full term). Between now and the next federal election there are a number of milestone moments and opportunities and how you prepare for them now is what will make your outcomes better in 2025 (or sooner). 

So let’s kick off with some high level timelines of the political cycle, assuming an election in or around March to May 2025.

  • The last federal budget before the election will be around May or early June 2024 and be most likely to set the tone for the election 
  • Budget preparation for the 2024 “election” budget will kick off around December 2023. That’s right! Less than ten months away.
  • We will have two mid-year economic updates in December 2023 and December 2024.

So rewind the clock, and work out what you need to do in the next ten months (between now and December this year) to ensure your project is included in the ‘election’ year budget – less time than you thought you may have perhaps? Don’t worry, there are some key principles I have covered in these columns for the past few years which can give you some hints and tips. 

Firstly, it costs money to manage government contracts, secure government funding and make policy change. If you are serious about securing funding commitments, the general rule of thumb of spending 10 per cent of what you hope to get for a few years beforehand, and then continuing to spend 10 per cent of what you earn from government to manage the contracts is key. 

My article back in 2020 dives into this in detail.  So given we are headed fast into the next election cycle, write down your ambitions, your policy and funding agendas and resource it accordingly. 

Last election we ended up with a much larger crossbench than normal, and having just finished reading Niki Savva’s book Bulldozed, there is a really important reminder about working with, enabling and engaging with the crossbench. Reflect back on this article as to how to manage and engage with the crossbench. Also,  remember some crossbenchers will be enablers and positive, others are not as interested in you as they seem, and you can quickly become cattle fodder for their agendas. How you navigate this will be key with our enlarged cross bench. 

There will be a redistribution of Federal seats in NSW kicking off this year. This article steps through some details on how and why redistributions are important. Within the next month or so, NSW will start the process of re-drawing each of its Federal boundaries. For NSW the smaller population electorates are around 106,000 people being Banks (Liberal marginal), Berowra (Liberal safe), Blaxland (Labor safe), Hughes (Liberal safe), Macquarie (Labor, ultra marginal), and smallest being Wentworth (independent) and Warringah (independent) at around 104,000 people. On the other side, the larger electorates around Cowper (129,000, National safe), Gilmore (127,000, Labor marginal), Hunter (128,000, Labor marginal), Paterson (132,000, Labor marginal) and largest being Macarthur at 135,000 (Labor safe).  What do you notice here? Except for Cowper, the smaller seats are mainly Liberal or independent, and the ‘oversized’ seats mainly Labor.  Depending on how NSW is cut, there is probably another Labor seat in the mix, and a loss of a Liberal (or independent one). 

Lobbyists will continue to be on the nose in 2023. The federal integrity commission will make things even harder for these guns for hire, further, the new pressure to release diaries and prevent conflicts will mean it is now time for you to check state & federal lobbyist registers and make sure you haven’t been added to any. The optics of NFP’s being on lobbyist registers are often not positive, and the Federal National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will only heighten this further.  Ask yourself whether you really need a lobbyist, or whether you can upskill and do it yourself; always better to have your story told by you as opposed to a gun for hire. 

Keep a close eye on federal budget cycles and be sure to keep your organisation working with all sides. 

Finally, get your planning in order for the 650 work days between now and the next Federal election, knowing when and what MYEFO is, when candidates will be preselected, as well as when parties will have their national conferences (big hint here, Labor’s will be in Brisbane in mid-August this year). Now is the best time in the cycle to plan the next few years politically. 


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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