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Business lobbying letter for policy issue

Written assignment

Description:

We have learned in class that many people and organisations, including business organisations, try to influence governmental policy on issues of material or moral interest to them. This goes under the general term ‘lobbying’. This written assignment will present students with real-life policy issues and ask them to take the part of a lobbyist seeking, by use of sound reasoning, to exert an influence on governmental decisions.

Format:

You are required to prepare a 1000-word lobbying letter on behalf of some interest group, firm or business association on a policy that is of both general interest to the community and particular interest to your client. The letter will clearly outline the interests and concerns held by the business in relation to the policy issue. The central objective of the submission is to make a case as to why government should follow the advice contained in the submission. The key is to research and develop a clear argument in relation to the policy issue and to present it in a persuasive manner. More information on the research and writing of your letter will be provided in classes.

THE TASK:

You are a political lobbyist and have been contracted by a leading firm, business association or nonbusiness stakeholder to prepare a submission promoting the interests of one of your clients in relation to a government review of one of the policy issues listed below. To assist you with this exercise, names of potential clients have been suggested. You may prepare a submission on behalf of another relevant party of your choosing; however you must check the suitability of your choice with the convenor before proceeding.

While there is no one single ‘best’ way to structure such a letter, we recommend that you have a brief introductory section which covers the following issues:

  • Name of the policy
  • Name and background of your client
  • The issue(s) you are addressing

There will follow:

  • Your central argument. This is the main section of your letter (the body) and needs to clearly identify the main issues your client wishes to raise in relation to the policy and present evidence and persuasive arguments in support of the approach your client recommends. It should also include possible counter-arguments and your rebuttal to these.

A minimum of 4 references is required, which should include some academic sources. All material drawn from these references must be appropriately cited. Use SafeAssign (see Assessment: General Information above) if unsure.

Policy Choices

The single greatest challenge for governments everywhere at the moment is the coronavirus and its effects on people’s health and, simultaneously, on the economy. Governments are having to make difficult choices in their attempts to balance public health with ongoing or suspended economic activity in circumstances of great uncertainty. They have been undertaking unprecedented levels of borrowing to support people and businesses in this health emergency and face many demands upon the public purse. What should be their priorities?

  1. Support for Tourism. Tourism is a sector that has been profoundly affected by the virus because of the disruption or cessation of normal patterns of international and domestic travel. This is especially concerning for a state like Queensland whose economy is heavily dependent on robust tourism, but other states are also very negatively impacted. The Commonwealth (federal) Government is planning a relief package that seems to rely heavily on encouraging Australians to take holidays at home instead of abroad

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/20/morrison-government-flags-incentives-for-australians-to-take-domestic-holidays-to-save-tourism-industry

But should it be doing more for an industry as economically important as tourism? Different business sectors and groups will have different views on this.

You will make a representation to the federal government that addresses this policy issue. You may choose one of the following interests to represent:

Australian Regional Tourism (ART) – a peak body representing and supporting regional tourism operators. ART “advocates for sustainable regional development and amplifies key messages to government, other industries and industry sectors, researchers, educators and the public.”

(https://regionaltourism.com.au/#:~:text=Australian%20Regional%20Tourism%20(ART)%20is,networking%20and%20so%20much%20more.)

Mayor or councillor of a local government in a major tourist hub (e.g. the Gold Coast) – local governments in tourist hotspots inevitably face extreme difficulties when their principal industry is unable to function effectively. Although represented by the Australian Local Government Association (https://alga.asn.au/), members of this organisation will be divided among themselves as to priorities because of their different local circumstances. (See City of Gold Coast: https://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/council/default.html).

Australian Beef Industry Association (ABIF) – ABIF invests in young people, education and information to arrest the crisis and develop a profitable and sustainable beef industry supportive of local communities. This organisation, like other rural industry organisations, may be more concerned about equitable government support for industries than for granting favourable treatment to tourism (http://www.abif.com.au/about).

Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) – the ACF argue that we face a pollution and extinction crisis because of climate change and habitat destruction resulting from bad political decisions, discredited ideas and short-term thinking. It does not accept “that we must sacrifice nature for a quick buck.” Having witnessed the considerable improvement in air quality around the world with the Covid crisis, the ACF may welcome the demise or diminution of the tourist industry (https://www.acf.org.au/).

  1. International students – education is, after iron ore, coal and gas, Australia’s biggest export, worth $40.4 billion/year to the economy in 2019

https://internationaleducation.gov.au/research/%20Research-Snapshots/Documents/Export%20Income%20CY%202017.pdf But the Covid crisis has inevitably struck the higher education sector hard. Though the Commonwealth government

has issued a Higher Education Relief Package, it is very limited in nature

(https://www.dese.gov.au/covid-19/higher-education/higher-education-faq).

You may choose one of the following to represent:

Vice Chancellor of a Regional University – this is a relatively minor university which has, over the years, become heavily reliant on foreign student income and now faces a drastic budget crisis (https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/race-to-shoreup-la-trobe-university-as-cash-crisis-bites-20200602-p54yun.html). The Commonwealth government has in fact been reducing its financial support for universities over many years, and seems in effect to be reducing if further in the crisis under the guise of encouraging STEM subjects

(https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/23/universities-warnfunding-overhaul-will-put-quality-of-education-in-australia-at-risk). You may ask why struggling universities are being less supported than an industry like aviation (https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/governmentsupport-continues-australias-aviation-industry-0).

Opposition Member of Parliament – you are a member who has been seriously involved in higher education on both international and national levels. You think government policy toward an important economic export sector is misguided and suspect that the apparent indifference may be based in part on ideological prejudice. You are disturbed that international students have been largely excluded from the government’s financial support packages and urged simply to ‘go home’ (https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/australian-international-educationcheap-fix). You wish to argue for a change of perspective.

An International Student – you were pursuing a higher education degree when the Covid pandemic hit and swiftly returned to your home to be with your family at an anxious time. You are continuing your current courses online as best you can but are concerned for the future. You feel the Australian government is not treating your case and those of your fellow students with sufficient sympathy and support. You would like to be able to return next year without penalty for breaching enrolment conditions. You would also like to clarify your post-study work rights in Australia and the possibility of extending your visa. What, you ask, are the Australian government’s long-term obligations to its international students

https://andrewnorton.net.au/2020/04/04/international-students-and-the-covid-19-recession/

  1. Border Closures – the issue of opening or closing borders, and to whom, is a fraught one in the current crisis. It in fact illustrates a general problem of federal systems, which work against a country having any truly national policy on important issues. If New Zealand has waged a successful battle against the virus, it is partly because it has a unitary government whose authority runs large and does not have to cope with the wishes and polices of subsidiary state governments. But a federal system creates many problems for businesses trying to work across borders.

You may choose one of the following to represent:

A Frustrated Worker – you live on one side of the state border but your workplace is just across on the other side. Though as a resident you have special dispensation to cross the border regularly, the government has erected a low, continuous wall along the roadway that marks the border to prevent cars and trucks illegally dodging restrictions. You must therefore walk several kilometres around this wall to get to work. Either that or you try hopping across, which is illegal and exposes you to prosecution (and many ageing residents would find this option dangerous). You would like the government to address this issue seriously and make more suitable arrangements for local residents

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDx9S88S3yo)

A Fruit and Vegetable Farmer – your farm is south of the border but your commerce requires you to cross the border regularly to service customers. But the border restrictions in a built-up urban area cause traffic snarl-ups that delay crossing by several hours, meaning that you find it almost impossible to conduct your normal deliveries in timely fashion. The northern state government has asked the southern to allow it to move the border seven kilometres south, away from the urban conglomeration to ease the flow. The government of the southern state is strongly resistant but you wish to support the proposal for the sake of business stranded in the middle like your own

(https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/qld-premier-asks-nsw-tomove-interstate-border-south-to-tweed-river-20200720-p55dj8.html); (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-21/queensland-coronavirus-what-doesmoving-a-state-border-involve/12473162); (https://www.rdv.vic.gov.au/aboutrdv/cross-border-commissioner/cross-border-issues).

Hotel Proprietor – you run a hotel that has been selected to accommodate interstate travellers who must compulsorily quarantine for two weeks. In an emergency where rates of accommodation have drastically dropped, you are glad of the income provided. However, you have no experience of what is required to ensure that guests are well looked after while quarantine restrictions are properly enforced. The government has contracted the job of ‘policing’ guests’ behaviour to a private security firm, but you have witnessed many irregularities of behaviour (such as letting guests leave the room for shopping or walks) and are concerned. You seek to influence the government to install safer and more efficient practices

(https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-03/victoria-coronavirus-hotel-quarantinescandal-for-daniel-andrews/12418102;https://theconversation.com/vital-signsvictorias-privatised-quarantine-arrangements-were-destined-to-fail-143169).

Alternative projects

Obviously these choices are very ‘Australia-centric’, and we are aware that many of our students come from other countries. We therefore offer an option of the personal choice of a project which is more directly relevant to your home environment. This should also focus on some policy problem related to the Covid pandemic, and will need to be approved by the convenor.