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Pressure groups and the Australian Federal Parliament



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Department of the Parliamentary Library

Pressure Groups and the Australian

Federal Parliament

Dr Keith Abbott 1995 Political Studies Fellow

Australian Government Publishing Service Canberra

ISBN 0644 446560

0 Commonwealth of Australia 1996

This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission from the Australian Government Publishing Service. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to the Manager, Commonwealth Information Services, Australian Government Publishing Service, GPO Box 84 ACT 2601.

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

This paper has been prepared for general distribution to Senators and Members of the Australian Parliament. While great care is taken to ensure that it is accurate and balanced, the paper is written using information publicly available at the time of production. The views expressed are those of the author and

should not be attributed to the Parliamentary Research Service (PRS) or to the Department of the Parliamentary Library. Readers are reminded that the paper is not an official parliamentary or Australian government document. PRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of the public.

Produced by the Australian Government Publishing Service

MICHAEL BEAHAN

President of the Senate

ROBERT HALVERSON Speaker of the House of Representatives

Presiding Officers' Foreword

In May 1970 the then Presiding Officers inaugurated the Parliamentary Political Studies Fellowship to promote the study of the Parliament. The Fellowship was designed to provide an opportunity for scholars to examine the work of the Parliament at close quarters and to carry out research related to it. The Fellowship is managed by the Parliamentary Library, in conjunction with the joint Library Committee of the Parliament, the Australasian Political Studies Association and the Australasian Study of Parliament Group.

Keith Abbott was the 1995 Political Studies Fellow and the last to hold the Fellowship under that name. From 1996 the Fellowship has been renamed the Australian Parliamentary Fellowship to reflect a broadening of the fields of study covered.

Dr Abbott has written a very topical monograph, Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament. Pressure groups are a significant force in Australian politics and this study examines the relationship between nationally organised pressure groups and the Australian Parliament.

June 1996

iii

Contents

Presiding Officers' Foreword iii

Introduction by Dr June Verrier vii

Acknowledgments ix

Executive Summary xi

Chapter One Introduction 1

Chapter Two Pressure Group Analysis 7

Definition 8

Categorising Pressure Groups 12

Distribution of Power 13

Power and Political Access 19

Theoretical Framework 21

Internal Authority 21

External Legitimacy 24

Endnotes 26

Chapter Three National Pressure Groups 29

Business Groups 30

Labour Groups 35

Agricultural Groups 39

Professional Groups 44

Special Situation Groups 48

Cause Groups 52

Conclusion 56

Endnotes 59

Chapter Four Pressure Groups and Parliament 61

Pressure Group Contacts with Parliament 64

Basis of Contacts 69

Parliamentarians as Members of Party Meetings 73 Parliamentarians as Members of Parliamentary Committees 76

Parliamentarians as Representatives of Constituents and Electorates 79

Pressure Groups and Parliament 81

Conclusion 87

v

Chapter Five Pressure Groups and Other Channels of

Access 91

About the Figures 92

Government Ministers 94

Public Departments 97

Media 99

Parliament 101

Political Parties 103

Public Opinion 104

Single Political Parties 105

Conclusion 105

Chapter Six Conclusion 109

Appendix One: Results of Pressure Group Survey 117

Appendix Two: Listing of Survey Participants 129

Bibliography 133

List of Tables Table 2.1 Pressure Group Classification 13

Table 3.1 Business Groups 32

Table 3.2 Labour Groups 37

Table 3.3 Agricultural Groups 41

Table 3.4 Professional Groups 45

Table 3.5 Special Situation Groups 49

Table 3.6 Cause Groups 54

Table 4.1 Pressure Group Contacts with Parliament 64

Table 4.2 Contacts with Political Parties 66

Table 4.3 Contact via Support 67

Table 4.4 Contact via Mailing 68

Table 4.5 Requests Asked of Members of Parliament 69

Table 4.6 Rating Contacts with Parliament 84

Table 5.1 Ranking Sources of Influence 93

Table 5.2 Contacts with Ministers 95

vi

Introduction

The original rationale for what began back in 1971 as the Political Studies Fellowship and in 1996 became the Australian Parliamentary Fellowship was to develop an understanding of the practical workings of the Parliament of a young scholar who would go on to teach political studies in Australia's universities. The objective has broadened over the years to

encourage Fellows to explore some aspect of the workings of the Parliament in what has become monograph form.

Anyone who has worked in the Federal Parliament will not only have a better understanding of the operations of modern Australian government but will also have a very different view of the Parliament's importance and place, and also a different view of the very particular demands made upon its members. Knowledge of the very keen interest that parliamentarians take in the work of the Fellow, and of the very great demands Senators and Members make of the Parliamentary Research Service where Fellows are placed, is likely to cast a different light on the nature of the modern politician, the breadth of the demands made upon him or her, the variety of the roles he or she plays and the vigour and rigour with which these are pursued.

The fellowship if of one year's duration and in the course of it, as a member of the Parliamentary Research Service, the fellow is expected to make a contribution to meeting the day-to-day research requirements of Senators and Members. This makes for an extraordinarily full year from which the

completion of a monograph of this substance is a very significant achievement. This monograph is not the product of a project long in gestation and longer in production, but rather of a short and sharp look at an aspect of the Parliament's business in which Senators and Member have an interest and this is the context in which it should be read.

In this volume, Dr Keith Abbott has made a significant contribution to plotting the operation of pressure groups in the Parliament and establishing their place in the democratic process. Every politician is beset with a multitude of pressure groups seeking to put their point of view and

influence them in their direction. To have a better understanding of their

vii

modus operandi — and, indeed, to have a better grasp of who the pressure

groups are at the national level — will be helpful to the practising politician and to those with an interest in the operation of Australian national politics.

Dr J R Verrier

Head

Parliamentary Research Service

June 1996

viii

Acknowledgments

I have incurred many debts in researching and writing this monograph. My interest in pressure group politics was first stimulated through an earlier association with Ross Martin of Latrobe University. Throughout the present study he has continued to be an informed critic of earlier drafts.

The study has also benefited greatly from the views of Greg Baker, Prue Kerr, Trevor Matthews, Max Spry, John Uhr, June Verrier and Baden Williams. All provided useful comments that proved invaluable in leading the research into many fruitful areas. Any errors or omissions are of course the responsibility of the author. A particular debt of gratitude is owed to June Verrier. As head of the Parliamentary Research Service, her unwavering support, both intellectually and administratively, made the research a far less onerous task than it might have been. A special thanks is also owed to Kate Matthews for her capacity to organise the un-organisable, and to the support staff of the Department of the Parliamentary Library for their time and assistance. I would furthermore like to thank Kylie Flannigan for her assistance in compiling the statistical data, and Rebecca Pearman and Iava Seddon for their help in putting together the Directory of Pressure Groups.

Further acknowledgment is due to the Australian Political Science Association, Australian Parliamentary Studies Group and the Parliamentary Research Service, a curious amalgam that gave me the

ix

Acknowledgments

opportunity to work on the project under the Political Studies Fellowship. I would also like to thanks the many pressure groups that responded to the survey, as well as those members of parliament that took the time to talk to

me about their experiences with pressure group. The same thanks is also extended to the department personnel and pressure group officials that agreed to be interviewed. Their willingness to talk, as well as their patience in answering what often must have seemed to be irrelevant questions has

greatly increased my knowledge of the way pressure group politics is conducted at the national level.

I would also like to acknowledge Vanessa Brooks, Gail Brown, Matt Collinson, Roger Dickinson, Owen and Elsha Downie, Les Downs, Debbie

and Alan Fitch, Kevin Flynn, Gavin Lee, Susi McKay, Brendon O'Rourke, Veronica Ozols, Noel Riley, Michael Serbatoio, Annette Sharpe, Rachael Webb, Sandra Bailey, Maryanne Lawless, Deborah and Fred Bordeau and Trish and Steve Yates. Their friendship and practical support during our time in Canberra has been of immeasurable value to both me and my family.

I owe my deepest personal debt to my wife, Mary, who found the time to proof read many early drafts and once again contributed through her encouragement and support. The same debt is also owed to my son, Kris, who showed his usual patience in waiting for the completion of that one last sentence.

x

Executive Summary

This study looks at relations between nationally organised pressure groups and the Australian federal parliament. After some brief introductory comments in chapter one on the nature of the research and the methodology used, chapter two defines the features that distinguish pressure groups from other organisations, regards different methods used to categorise

pressure groups, looks at the two main theoretical approaches used to explain the role of pressure groups in society, broaches some of the problems associated with assessing the exercise of political power and sets out a theoretical framework for analysing the political access of pressure

groups.

The organising principle of this framework asserts that pressure groups gain political access on the basis of their internal authority and external legitimacy. An organisation that is highly representative of the potential membership, non-competitive in terms of attracting and maintaining members, hierarchal in executive decision-making and able to control the actions of its members, is deemed to have a high internal authority, and on the basis of this it can be expected to have a high external legitimacy in the eyes of government office-holders. It will furthermore have relatively open channels of access to policy processes, and by virtue of this openness, it can be assumed to be politically influential. The converse is more typically of

xi

Executive Summary

pressure groups that combine a low internal authority and external

legitimacy.

Chapter three looks at different categories of group in terms of this thesis.

It finds that despite recent developments in the structure of interest representation at the national level, most pressure groups are not compelled to compete with other organisations for members. The option of

non-membership amongst the potential membership is nevertheless high, so there are few imperatives placed on members to accept the centrally determined directives of the organisations to which they belong. At the same time, most pressure groups either affiliate organisations rather than individual members or employ complex decisional processes that grant substantial representational rights to members in executive decision-making processes. This means pressure groups typically have low levels of internal authority. Few have the ability to link the activities of members to centrally determined strategies, commit members to obligations given to

government officials on their behalf, conduct coordinated resistance against policy measures deemed to be against the interests of members, or undertake substantive commitments in negotiated trade-offs over public policy. The vast majority of pressure groups consequently have little

grounds for claiming recognition of their political demands on the grounds of organisational attributes alone. This being the case, what external legitimacy is accorded to pressure groups is derived principally from the economic, social and political environment in which they operate. Pressure

groups founded on economic and occupational criteria derive more advantages in this regard than groups organised on other criteria. These advantages, however, are far from pervasive, as all categories of group confront obstacles and can draw on political resources peculiar to their organisational attributes and the community interests they represent. As such, no category of group, or any number therein, can be said to be consistently influential or unrivalled when seeking to influence public

policy.

Having relayed some understanding of how different social interests are organised and represented at the national political level, chapter four looks specifically at the relations that exist between pressure groups and parliament. It begins by reviewing contemporary opinion that holds

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Executive Summary

parliament to be so cabinet and party dominated as to play little

substantive role in the policy process, and that for this reason pressure groups are not moved to access its members or forums. This view is challenged by first showing how these conclusions assess the power of

parliament solely in terms of the legislative outcomes revealed in the exercise of votes by members during formal parliamentary proceedings, and how this wrongly assumes a linear policy process where parliament only acts at the final stages of the process by providing a notional legitimacy to

legislation formulated and administered elsewhere.

The discussion puts the case that policy processes at the national political level are not so linear and the functions of parliament are not so subservient to the will of cabinet or the imposition of party discipline as

much contemporary opinion suggests; that instead, parliament is a multi-dimensional source of influence where committees of inquiring are organised, political parties meet, and networks of communication take place, all of which provide a rich variety of inputs at various stages throughout the policy process. Pressure groups well know this, and act accordingly in the full knowledge that party solidarity and cabinet dominance give government more power over the fate of policy than parliament, but equally aware that parliamentary forums and networks of communication between members are an important part of the wider policy community that feed information into the political process.

Chapter five looks at the relations pressure groups hold with parliament in terms of the relations they hold with other sources of influence. Seven sources of influence are identified and ranked in their order of importance.

The research findings show how government and public departments rank the highest in terms of their importance to pressure groups. This is only natural as these institutions make the most important decisions that effect the community. The discussion nonetheless argues that it is too simplistic to assume that policy outcomes are the sole product of consultations between these institutions, or between these institutions and pressure

groups. Much policy is conducted on this basis, but a lot is not, and this is evident in the way pressure groups utilise a wide range of avenues in their efforts to achieve favourable policy outcomes. Why this is so can be traced to the fact that policy networks at the level of government and public

xiii

Executive Summary

departments are never so stable and predictable as to guarantee pressure

groups that they will always achieve their political objectives through contacts with these institutions alone. It is in the context of this uncertainty that secondary sources of influence become important. In their rank order of importance to pressure groups, the media ranks third, followed by parliament, political parties, public opinion and single political parties. With the possible exception of the last, however, there is little to

distinguish the worth pressure groups place on these avenues as sources of policy influence. The chapter concludes that secondary sources such as these are used as supplementary channels by pressure groups to buttress efforts directed at more important arenas of power, that stratagems employed by pressure groups are typically multi-faceted, conditioned not so

much by the linear progression of policy through formal procedures as by the belief that exerting influence simultaneous at various points across the political system improves greatly the prospect of successfully influencing

policy outcomes.

Chapter six draws together the many themes and issues raised throughout the study, concluding that pressure groups are important contributors to the political system. Not only do they feed information into the political

system and improve the capacity of parliamentarians to cope with the demands made of them, in so doing they indirectly help the parliament in its role as a legislator and help legitimise the political process. They also provide citizens with a means to influence bureaucratic and government decisions that encroach on their lives, and ensure that various social interests and concerns are articulated peacefully in the public arena. They thus acts as an important safety valve and help underpin society's support for the political system and its policy outcomes.

Recommendations to Pressure Groups

In their relations with parliament, its members, party forums and committees of inquiry, the following recommendations are offered to

pressure group leaders and officials.

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Executive Summary

Most parliamentarians are willing to meet the leaders and delegation of

pressure group leaders. Not only do they feel an obligation to engage people and outside organisations as part of their day-to-day role as elected representatives, most see pressure groups as a valuable source of information about public issues. Indeed, the information pressure groups provide to parliamentarians could said to be the very basis upon which relations between the two entities primarily rest. What value is placed on the information varies from parliamentarian to parliamentarian, but several factors could be said to be important if it is to have a bearing on shaping the views of politicians and their approach to public policy issues.

First, members of parliament are generally sceptical about information provided by pressure groups that appears to be blatantly self-interested.

They are more likely to take notice of information that addresses both sides of an argument or regards the organised interests arrayed both for and against a particular issue in question. The reason for this stems from the very nature of political debate itself, most of which starts by setting out a position to be opposed, then using this as a basis for criticism before detailing some alternative. By providing arguments both for and against a given issue, a pressure group can instil confidence in their parliamentary contact that they have the knowledge necessary to counter any arguments raised against the position being taken on their behalf.

Second, the information must by accurate and up-to-date, and if possible detail well researched case studies. Armed with relevant, contemporary examples of some problem area of public policy, a parliamentarian will have one of the most credible and influential forms of knowledge with which to enter debates with political adversaries or when discussing the issue in

question with party colleagues and government ministers. The information provided must also be succinct. Ideally, briefing notes on current issues should be around two or three pages. Longer research papers should include a two or three page summery at the front that refers the reader seeking

elaboration to relevant section within the paper. This is the format used by the Parliamentary Research Service in its publications and has wide appeal amongst members.

xv

Executive Summary

Third, topicality and timing are also important. If a pressure group can

provide information about a topical issue of the day, it is likely to wield more influence with parliamentarians than an issue that is low on the government policy agenda or has little or no public profile. This is because parliamentarians like to keep abreast of public events, and to be seen as

such, as part of perennial efforts to shore up their political stocks within the house and their respective parties. Timing is important in the sense that it

is no good approaching parliamentarians, over some policy issue when the

policy in question is all but settled. A parliamentarian may be able to alert government ministers or public departments about some area of policy failure, and by so doing encourage some remedial action. But they are generally in a better position to wield influence when policy deliberations

are in their formative stage. It is thus important for pressure groups to monitor what stage a policy is at within the political process, or what institution is directly responsible for its development or administration, and

direct their efforts accordingly.

Fourth, some reckoning needs to be made of what is capable of being achieved. Demands that seek the establishment of entirely new policy, or call for radical changes in existing policy, are unlikely to be pursued with any great vigour at the level of parliament. This is because parliament is largely a avenue of policy influence rather than an avenue of policy initiation. It simply does not have the level of resources and independence

to engage in campaigns to secure major shifts in public policy. In any case, policy making more generally tends to evolve rather than lurch in leaps and bounds, as governments are simply unwilling to contemplate major policy changes for fear of their unintended consequences. Demands pitched at the

level of parliament should therefore recognise the limitations of parliamentarians and the fact that policy making develops incrementally.

Fifth, parliamentarians are highly sensitive about the way pressure groups present their demands. Pressure groups that seek to dictate policy to individual members through intimidation or threatened electoral action

will usually find their efforts wasted. Parliamentarians are unable to concede to such tactics because they are subject to the dictums of party discipline. Most are also prominent leaders in their local communities, have high level or self-esteem and hold threats of any sort as falling outside the

xvi

Executive Summary

'rules of the game'. Some may concede ground under this type of

inducement, but most would be inclined to adopt a contrary position to the one being proposed, irrespective of the merits of the issue in question.

Concession and consensus, discussion and negotiation, are thus the order of the day, and carry far more weight at the level of parliament than threats or intimidation.

Sixth, many pressure groups are indiscriminate about who they contact in parliament. Most do not differentiate between parties or houses in their selection of which members to approach, nor also when mailing literature.

Indeed, around three-quarters of mail sent to members of parliament comes from pressure groups, and most is sent to all members. What is not overly recognised is that parliamentarians typically have specific causes they are willing to promote in policy areas that are not directly related to their electorates and party agendas. Personal predilections held towards republicanism, immigration, abortion, industrial relations or health reform, to name a few, are all issues that parliamentarians have variously championed. Parliamentarians that have an interest in specific policy issues can usually be identified by the committees to which they belong.

When selecting who to approach, or who to mail literature to, pressure groups could do no worse than to note the membership of the committees most active in their area of interest. Using this as a guide to selection, the prospects of a pressure group making contact with parliamentarians that have an intimate knowledge of their area will be greatly improved.

Finally, it is important for pressure groups to act in ways that instil trust in the relationship. It is useful to remember that when parliamentarians take up a cause on behalf of a pressure group, they invariably do so in lieu of a wide range of causes they could represent. That they have chosen to act in the interests of one particular pressure group out of the plethora of interests they could represent, should encourage the favoured pressure

group to acknowledge this service. This may only mean conferring on the parliamentarian concerned some measure of gratitude, or it could involve publicising the work of the parliamentarian to the membership of the organisation concerned. Preferably, it should extend to providing consistent feedback on the issues being raised with the parliamentarian. A pressure

group can also stimulate trust in the relationship by not running

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Executive Summary

alternative lines of argument or using other avenues of influence without

the knowledge of the parliamentarian acting in their interests.

Recommendations to Parliamentarians

Pressure groups are a long established part of the Australian political landscape, and there is little evidence that their numbers are falling or their political activities are receding. Some commentators hold the view

that pressure groups are selfish organisations whose activities are a threat to the stability of the political system. Criticisms along these lines, which appear to have a growing measure of influence in some quarters of parliament, essentially dwell on one or more of the following themes: (1) pressure groups act on behalf of sectional interests, which is contrary to the public interest; (2) some pressure groups are so powerful that their influence over public policy is to the detriment of less powerful groups; (3) not all social interests are organised and these are ignored in a policy process dominated by organised social interests; (4) pressure groups are a cause of policy decisions being taken outside the arena of representative government, which injects an unacceptable level of secrecy into the policy process; (5) the incorporation of certain pressure groups into the policy process makes parliament prone to accepting decisions made elsewhere because they bear the imprimatur of agreement between the interested parties.

These views, in all their variations, assume that pressure groups organised at the national level have extensive and exclusive coverage of the potential membership of various interest communities. They also assume the existence of nationally organised pressure groups that have the authority to engage in policy trade-offs and commit their memberships to decisions made on their behalf. They further assume that government is the captive of pressure groups and that parliament has only a notional involvement in

the conduct of public policy.

The findings of this study cast doubt on these assumptions. Pressure groups are not all-powerful. Few have the internal authority capable of committing members to decision made on their behalf, and among those that do their

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Executive Summary

coverage of the potential membership is low. Governments and public

departments are sufficiently powerful to counter the influence of pressure groups and screen their demands in accordance with the public interest, and their fiscal ability to enter into policy trade-offs with pressure groups is

extremely limited (and becoming more so as each year passes). Parliament, also, makes a substantive contribution to the conduct of public policy, and far from by-passing its processes, pressure groups operate through it when trying to influence policy outcomes. The argument that in promoting their own interests, pressure groups act in ways that are detrimental to the national interest is vacuous, as there is hardly an organisation that would not claim that the advancement of their interests is synonymous with the national interest.

The major, indeed the only, recommendation to flow from this is that parliamentarians should not get too neurotic about the activities of pressure ' groups. It is their legitimate right to make demands on governments, and to deny this is to deny the right of citizens to organise

against bureaucratic and governmental encroachment. The freedom to organise and engage in peaceful political activity is an essential part of democracy. It is an important means by which citizens can participate in the political process, inform governments of their specific interests and concerns, and gain redress for grievances arising out of poorly considered policy. On a more substantive level, pressure groups contribute to the processes of representative government by communicating the interests of

society to government decision-makers. They also provide valuable expertise during the formation of public policy, and act as watchdogs over its administration. Perhaps most importantly, pressure groups act as mechanisms through which peaceful political discussion and action can take place, and in so doing are an important mechanism that helps to promote

social cohesion and popular acceptance of the political decisions that govern society.

xix

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

The study of Australian pressure group politics at the national political level has a relatively sparse literature. By far the bulk of studies in this area have argued from a pluralist perspective, focused on major pressure groups and their relations with the federal government, and generally held their activities to be beneficial to the political process (see for example:

Matthews, 1980, reading 50; Warhurst, 1987, pp.13-6; Jaensch, 1990, chapter 6; Maddox, 1991, chapter 13). Others have taken a corporatist approach, emphasising the close links between certain economic groups and government, though opinions over the virtue of the relationships involved have been mixed (see for example: Beilhartz and Watts, 1983, pp.27-30;

Loveday, 1984, pp.46-51; West, 1984; Stewart, 1985, pp.26-35; Gerritsen, 1986, pp.45-86; Keating and Dixon, 1989; Stilwell, 1986; Head, 1990, pp.329-45; Gruen and Gratten, 1993, chapter 4). To these more general studies there have been a number of studies of specific pressure groups.

Agricultural groups have received the most attention (see for example:

Campbell, 1968; Rolfe, 1970; Smith and Harman, 1974; Smith and Weller, 1976, chapter 3; Trebeck, 1990, pp.127-43), though business, public interest and labour groups have attracted more attention in recent years (see for

example, Hagan, 1981; Lines, 1990; Mendes, 1991, pp.17-9; Barry, 1991,

1

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

pp.41-4; More, 1991, pp.41-50; Way and Hooper, 1992; Elbaum, et.al ., 1993, pp.42-7; Dann and Wilson, 1993. pp.42-53). Few attempts have been made at analysing the relationship between pressure groups and the Australian federal parliament. The reason for this is not hard to fathom.

Government is where the loci of effective political authority resides, pressure groups well know this and direct their efforts accordingly, with the relationships involved attracting the bulk of research attention. Implicit to this research focus is the notion that parliament plays little substantive role in national policy processes and so pressure groups are not moved to lobby its members or access its forums.

Taken at face value, this raises a number of questions. What consequences do a lack of parliamentary authority over legislative processes and direct appeals made to government by pressure groups hold for the democratic process? Can appeals made by pressure groups on behalf of social interests be considered as off-setting the democratic deficit of parliament in its role

as legislator? Or does by-passing parliament in this manner merely result in benefits accruing to certain social interests to the detriment of others? Or is the distinction between the two forms of representation arbitrary, and better understood as re-enforcing one another in bringing the community closer to its mode of governance? In examining these questions the present

study adopts an organising principle that holds policy influence to be dependent upon political access. As a mode of democratic representation, the access of elected members of parliament to national policy processes is both direct and readily apparent. Individual members may differ in terms of personality, experience, what house they sit in, or what party they belong to, but they commonly enjoy unparalleled political access that confers them with a unique ability to influence the pattern and conduct of public policy.

The political access of pressure groups can take a variety of forms, both direct and indirect, and need not always equate with policy influence. Yet it is apparent that most pressure groups seeking to represent social interests through political action in Australia do so in the belief that operating inside the political system is far more effective than operating from without. It is in the context of this belief that pressure groups hold political access to policy processes to be fundamentally important to the realisation of organisational goals. Were it otherwise, some evidence of large numbers of

2

Introduction

pressure groups operating outside the political system would exist, with political access being held by them to have little bearing on the policy deliberations of government. The converse is clearly the case, as the present study amply demonstrates, such that the assumed linkage between political

access and policy influence is in many ways supported by what is seems obvious to the pressure groups themselves.

Most research into pressure group politics begins with two ground-clearing exercises, and for good reason. There is a wide range of interpretations about the role of pressure groups within society, how pressure groups should be classified and what organisations are entitled to be called pressure groups. It is usual to elaborate or take a position on these issues first before embarking on any wider research. It is also common to detail the characteristics of the pressure groups under study, as it is difficult to

make sense of pressure group politics without some understanding of the organisations involved. The present study does not depart from these traditions. Chapter two identifies what organisations are held to be pressure groups, sets out a mode for their classification and outlines the theoretical approach used for analytical and methodological purposes.

Chapter three divides pressure groups into several categories, noting organisational characteristics common to each category, as well what advantages and disadvantages they confront in their political activities.

Chapter four looks at the types of relations that exist between national organised pressure groups and the Australian federal parliament. Chapter five assesses pressure group-parliament relations within the context of pressure group relations with other governmental institutions. Chapter six summarises the findings of the study.

A final word on the nature of the research. The core of study is based on the findings of an extensive survey involving 185 pressure groups. The format of the survey broadly replicates a survey conducted by the Westminster Study of Parliament Group (Rush, 1990). Although similar, for which some debt to the original survey is due, many questions were varied to suit Australian conditions. Additional questions were also included as a means

of classifying pressure groups and to solicit information for a pressure group directory (see below). In so far as the selection of pressure groups is concerned, it is impossible to say with any certainty how many operate at

3

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

the national political level at any given moment. Some organisations have

only a fleeting existence. Others engage in political activities only intermittently. Some are formed in a piece-meal fashion over long periods of time, either as the result of amalgamations or through the fragmentation of pre-existing organisations. Still others operate only indirectly through umbrella organisations. The 1995 Directory of Australian Associations (Information Australia, 1994) lists almost 4,800 interest associations, from which 380 were initially identified as broadly fitting the definitional criteria outlined in chapter two. A survey questionnaire was eventually

posted to 252 organisations drawn from this list. The settlement on this figure was not entirely arbitrary. Of the 380 organisations originally identified, a large number had either gone out of existence, or could not be contacted, or had amalgamated with other organisations. Conducted between January and April 1995, the survey yielded 197 responses, of which nineteen were deemed to be ineligible because the organisations did not fit our definitional criteria of a pressure group. The overall response rate was 71 per cent (number of groups=n=178/252), and included most of the important pressure groups currently operating at the national political level. The rate of response across each category of group was high except for agricultural and labour groups (or trade unions), where the returns were less than 40 per cent. Figures for these groups should accordingly be read with some caution. However, as the structure of. national political representation for farmers and workers is relatively unified, the extent of this caution need not be exaggerated.

A problem with all surveys is gaining the participation of respondents. To overcome this our approach involved making direct telephone contact with the most senior officer in each group, seeking their commitment to complete the survey. The assumption was that the more central the personalities involved, the more reliable the information likely to be provided. This method of contact had three advantages. It first helped to distinguish the

survey from the numerous, un-solicited surveys these organisations regularly received. Secondly, it allowed for some elaboration about the intentions of the survey and waylay any fears about the confidentiality of the information disclosed. It finally allowed us to point out to respondents that the aim of the survey was to gain information about their organisation's

4

Introduction

relationship with parliamentarians and parliamentary forums, and not about relationships involving parliamentary members holding positions in government. During the discussions, an inducement to participate was given in a commitment to include each organisation in a 'Directory of

Pressure Groups', listing their areas of interest and destined for distribution among parliamentarians. A further inducement was given in a commitment to forward a synopsis of the research findings to the participants once the project was completed. A final commitment was given not to disclose information provided that specifically identified individual groups.

This last commitment had its obvious drawbacks, most notably in disallowing the use of individual responses to exemplify arguments raised in the study. It nonetheless seems vindicated in the reasonably high response rate the survey attracted. The study's other short-comings should be judged against the short-time-frame in which it was undertaken—six months.

The study also draws on a limited number personal interviews conducted with members of parliament, as well as personnel employed • by public departments and pressure groups. In so far as members of parliament are concerned, the selection was first and foremost based on the availability of those approached. Members have extremely busy schedules during their sojourns to Canberra, such that there is a degree of randomness in the final list of those that agreed to be interviewed. Having said this, there is a reasonably good balance across gender, parties, houses and experience

among those members that found the time to share their thoughts.

Interviews conducted with public department employees and pressure group officials were similarly conditioned by the availability of those approached. Interviews were eventually concluded with middle-ranking

officials employed with three public departments (Department of Employment, Education and Training, Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, and Department of Environment, Sport and Territories).

Telephone and personal interviews were also conducted with a number pressure groups officials, usually in the context of seeking elaboration or clarification to answers provided in the survey questionnaire.

5

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

The study has three broad aims. The first is to relay some understanding of

the concepts, language and approaches used in the study of pressure group politics. The second is to relay some understanding of the character of Australian pressure groups operating at the national political level. The third is to advance the argument that parliament plays an important role in channelling social interests into the political process, and that the

activities of pressure groups at the level of parliament are important to this role. It is also written with three audiences in mind: the pressure group practitioner, the parliamentarian and the student of pressure group politics. To the practitioner it is hoped the study will provide an better understanding of the pressure group universe in which they operate, as well as what constraints and opportunities prevail or avail upon their efforts to influence national policy processes. To the politician it is hoped to shed some light on the character and aspirations of different types of pressure group, as well as on how parliament rates as an avenue of pressure group influence. To the student it is hoped the study will provide a useful starting point for understanding pressure group politics at the level of the Australian federal parliament.

6

CHAPTER Two

Pressure Group Analysis

The study of pressure groups is characterised by a range of views about their significance in society, role within politics, influence over public policy and the democratic process. Such study is also marked by diverse opinion concerning the classification of pressure groups, as well as what organisations are entitled to be called pressure groups. A reasonable understanding of Australian pressure group politics thus requires some clarification of the terms, concepts and approaches commonly used in this area of political study. The following discussion first establishes those features which distinguish pressure groups from other organisations.

Secondly, it details different methods used to categorise pressure groups for research purposes. Thirdly, it looks at two theoretical approaches commonly used to explain the role of pressure groups in society. Fourthly, it refers to some of the problems associated with assessing the exercise of political power. In noting this problem, the discussion concludes by setting out a

theoretical framework for analysing the political activities of pressure groups. Broaching these topics in total will provide a background for understanding issues raised in later chapters. Implicit in the overall discussion, however, is a general statement about the methodological approach used in the study.

7

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Definition

Researchers in the field of group studies have yet to agree on a common vocabulary for their object of study. Special interest (Wootton, 1985), interest group, (Ippolito and Walker, 1980), political interest group (Truman, 1951), organised association (Salisbury, 1975), privately organised aggregation (de Grazia, 1958), organised group (Potter, 1961), lobby (Miller, 1984), pressure group (Alderman, 1984) and group (Easton,

1965), have all been used to refer to essentially the same phenomena.

Despite some argument over the peculiarities of these terms there is a significant overlap in their various meanings, the selection of which has depended much on efforts to clarify the conceptual boundaries of a subject matter that is readily identifiable (see for example: Eckstein, 1960, pp.8-12; Finer, 1961, p.3; Alderman, 1984; Wootton, 1985, pp.22-3; Pross, 1992, p.5;

Ball and Millard, 1986, p.33). The term 'pressure group' is predominantly used in the present study, first, because it has the widest usage in Australian literature on the subject, and secondly, because the relevant organisations are those that seek to place pressure on government as a means of realising organisational objectives.

What, then, is a pressure group? There are numerous ways to answer this question. One approach embraces all forms of social organisation as the basis of pressure group identification. Interpretations of this type typically regard everything from social clubs and sporting associations, to public

services and political parties, as pressure groups. Although almost all human endeavour involves some form of social organisation, a definition of pressure groups informed by such a view is inoperable. The present research focuses on one form of interest intermediation within one particular institution of state. Accordingly, a narrow approach is adopted that draws a clear distinction between organised social interests and government institutions. Whilst recognising that the demarcation between the two realms is often blurred (see Richardson and Jordan, 1979, p.15), it nevertheless remains one of the surest means of gauging how organised social interests are reflected in government policy outcomes. Even if this were not the case the separation of social and governmental realms of political activity is still a readily discernible facet of Australian political life, and thus provides a relevant organising principle upon which to

8

Pressure Group Analysis

distinguish organisations which are pressure groups and organisations

which are not.

So stated, four features can be said to distinguish pressure groups from other organisations. First, pressure groups are constituted by independent social interests. By this it is meant that their existence is founded on the

shared attitudes held by a constituent part of civil society, which combine to 'make certain claims upon other groups in society for the establishment, maintenance or enhancement of forms of behaviour implied by [those] attitudes' (Truman, 1951). It is through the holders of shared attitudes who make up specific interest communities that one finds the ultimate organisational expression in the form of pressure groups. The adhesive that binds these communities can be based on a shared attitude towards some material objective or a more abstract philosophical goal. It can be founded on a single issue of community . concern or a broad range of issues. Or it can be constituted by a shared attitude towards employment, religion, ethnicity, race, sex, age, or some other form of social identification (Ippolito and Walker, 1980, p.270).

Second, pressure groups are composed of , formally affiliated members. Membership can be based on the affiliation of individuals or the affiliation of individual organisations. Whatever the structure of affiliation the primary requirement of membership is that individuals have freely entered

into common association for the expressed purpose of advancing their interests though various methods of collective action. Members can normally be expected to have paid dues to support the organisation and for the right of association. They can also be expected to hold the belief that

actions conducted in common association will attain goals that are incapable of being achieved individually (Ippolito and Walker, 1980, p.270).

Third, pressure groups have organisational capacity that is both continuous and autonomous. To provide for their continued existence, pressure groups need to have organised structures of authority, formal divisions of responsibility and established constitutional procedures (Pross, 1992, pp.3-4). This capacity must enable them to aggregate and articulate the interests of members, plan strategies and organise collective action to achieve organisational objectives. It must allow them to collect dues, keep abreast

9

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

of developments and issues that affect their membership, and determine

what actions are sufficient to advance their members' interests. It must also provide them with a means of resolving internal conflicts, sanctioning recalcitrant members and electing office bearers. To undertake these activities implies a certain degree of continuous and autonomous organisation, such that decisions taken, objectives agreed and actions engaged in are capable of being determined internally and without external control or direction (Ball and Millard, 1986, p.34)

Finally, pressure groups must be political organisations that seek to encourage governments to adopt the policies they advocate. The choice of tactics to achieve this end can be extensive. It can involve the provision of representation on government advisory bodies or the organisation of street demonstrations. It can include the threats of economic sanctions or the withdrawal of support for legislation. It can entail the provision of

submissions to government inquiries or the sending of delegations to meet with government office holders. The nature of these contacts can range from intimate dealings to open hostility, from consultation to negotiation.

Whatever their character the power of reasoned argument is the preferred means to persuade government to adopt a favoured policy course. Failing this, resort to arousing public opinion or the withdrawal of cooperation is the alternative method used to achieve a favourable outcome (Pross, 1992, pp.3-4).

On the basis of these characteristics, in our hands, a pressure group is

defined as an independent, non-party organisation with an organisational

structure and formally affiliated members that have shared interests, which represents or claims to represent those interests by bringing organised

pressure to bear on the political processes of government.

Having identified what pressure groups are, two further points need to be made. The first is that the definition just cited clearly excludes certain organisations in favour of others. Political parties, for instance, are excluded because they actively engage in electoral processes for the sole purpose of getting members into positions of political responsibility. In this

regard they differ from pressure groups, which rarely represent community interests beyond the specialised areas that immediately concern their

10

Pressure Group Analysis

membership. Nor do they take the lead in electoral politics or hold

aspirations to control the levers of government (Wootton, 1985, p.22).

Government departments, regulatory authorities and similar public bodies are also excluded because they are constituted by political authority rather than the shared attitudes of a constituent part of civil society (Aron, 1971, p.209). Organisations founded on a mutual interest in some pastime or similar activity that lacks political content are excluded (Ippolito and Walker, 1980, 270), as are discrete, separable entities such as business corporations, policy 'think-tanks', professional consultants, commercial lobbyists and other organisations that do not formally affiliate dues-paying members that hold common interests. Finally, unorganised interests such as spontaneous protest and social movements are excluded because they lack organisational capacity and cannot provide for their continued existence. (Ball and Millard, 1986, p.34; Pross, 1980, pp.3-4).

The omission of these organisations is not to deny their 'potential' to act in ways political, nor even to suggest that some do not wield considerable political influence. Their exclusion is more a matter of relative rather than fundamental difference, the point at which this difference matter being one of judgement about their status as mediators standing between the private interests of the social realm and public authority of the political realm.

The second point to be made is that the focus of study is on pressure group politics at the national level. For this reason the selection of pressure groups for research purposes is confined to organisations that are either nationally organised, pursue organisational objectives of national

consequence, are active at the national political level, or some combination of these. This mode of selection is conditioned partly by the view that pressure groups invariably focus the bulk of their political activities at the level of politics most appropriate to their needs. Pressure groups organised

and politically active only at the state and local levels are accordingly ignored. It is also driven by simple logistical needs. For by disregarding all the definitional criteria so far stated, it is possible to identify literally thousands of pressure groups operating in Australia.

11

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Categorising Pressure Groups

For analytical purposes and as a means of ordering resource material it is useful to dis-aggregate pressure groups. In setting up a typology of pressure groups to achieve this end, however, it is often the case that some pressure groups fit comfortably into a single category, others will demonstrate

characteristics of more than one category, and still others will demonstrate characteristics that equate with no particular category (Rush, 1990, p.9).

Much of this problem stems from the diverse activities undertaken by pressure groups. It is common for many pressure groups, for instance, to engage in both political and non-political activities, though not necessarily consistently or at the same time. This makes the accurate classification of

pressure groups at a given moment extremely difficult.

Whilst there is no commonly agreed solution to this problem, it would be true to say that choosing a typology depends much on what aspect of pressure group behaviour is under scrutiny, or what organising principles are considered most relevant to the assessment of particular types of

pressure group activities (Wooton, 1985, pp.24-7). The present study divides pressure groups according to the interests they represent: business groups, labour groups, agricultural groups, professional groups, special situation groups and cause groups. For writing purposes only, a further

categorisation is used that divides pressure groups into those organised along economic and occupational criteria (business groups, labour groups, agricultural groups and professional groups), and those organised on some other criteria (special situation groups and cause groups). Examples of the types of pressure groups that fit (or at least notionally fit) into the stated

interest categories are listed in table 2.1.

12

Pressure Group Analysis

Table 2.1 Pressure Group Classification

Category Mode of Organisation

Business represents industry, commerce, finance manufacturing sectors

Labour represents waged labour

Agricultural represents the farm sector

Examples of Australian Pressure Groups

Australian Business Council; Australian; Bankers Association; and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Australian Council of Trade Unions; Transport Workers Union; Australian Federal Police Association; Australian Education Union.

National Farmers Federation; Australian Citrus Growers Federation; Australian Cotton Foundation; Cattle Council of Australia.

Professional represents the 'learned' professions Australian Council of the Professions; Australian Medical Association Jewellers Association of Australia; Institute of Engineers.

Special members share a common

Situation experience based on a life experience or genetically controlled trait

Cause members seek to influence

policy on behalf of the

'common good', or are devoted to the accomplishment of a single political goal or a

particular ideological persuasion

Returned Services League [war]; Women's Electoral Lobby [gender] Salvation Army [religion]; Communities Councils of Australia [race]; Aged Care Australia [age];

Council of Social Service [welfare].

Australian Civil Liberties Union; Australian Consumers' Association; Australian Republican Movement; H. R. Nicholls Society; Citizens Against Road Slaughter; Abortion Law Repeal Association; Animal Rights; Australians Against Further Immigration; National Civic Council.

Distribution of Power

There are a number of approaches used to analyse the role of pressure groups in society (see: Dunleavy and O'Leary, 1987; Ball and Millard, 1986), of which pluralism and corporatism stand out for special

consideration because of their broad appeal and overall endurance in academic literature. In setting out these approaches it needs to be stated that neither can claim to operate under a unified body of theory. 2 Each has been used to analyse a wide range of issues which over the years has made it difficult to pin down their bare essentials. Also, there have been disagreements between supporters of each school as to what the central elements are of the theories they champion (see: Almond, 1983, pp.245-260;

13

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Martin, 1983, pp.86-102; Crouch, 1983, pp.452-60; Cawson, 1986,

pp.27,30,34-40; Williamson, 1989, chapter 3). Moreover, both concepts have been far from static, and have evolved and developed over time in response to changes in political practices and theoretical criticisms (Williams, 1989, p.51). For these reasons the following descriptions do not purport to be thorough-going expositions, but merely an overview of the basic affinities that appear to underpin their analytical approach towards the role of organised interests in society.

Pluralism, in its broadest sense, starts from the observation that government is the provider of rules, regulations and policies, which pressure groups attempt to influence to serve their interests. In the struggle to exert political influence pressure groups invariably come into competition with one another. In so doing, however, not all pressure groups

are equal. Some pressure groups will have greater access to resources of political influence — money, organisation, size and status (Dahl, 1961, p.228). Some may be part of self-enclosed policy communities or hold institutionalised relations with government (Richardson and Jordan, 1979, p.13; Jordan and Richardson, 1987, p.27), whilst for others the structure of economic organisation in society will confer them with considerable advantages in their efforts to exert political influence (Lindblom, 1977, pp.172-5). Whatever political resources, avenues of access or economic

structures exist, pluralism holds that they are neither consistently applicable nor of equal relevance in all political circumstances. For this reason political power can never accrue exclusively to any single pressure group, and given certain enabling conditions peculiar to each group, all will have some capacity to influence government. An important notion in

support of this idea is that when one pressure group grows too dominant in its relations with government, processes are activated that cause other pressure groups threatened by this domination to organise resources, collaborate, or even amalgamate, as a means of counteracting this

dominance (Galbraith, 1963, p.123-5). Politics is thus not governed by any single power centre, but dispersed amongst 'multiple centres of power, none of which is, or can be, wholly sovereign' (Dahl, 1967, p.24).

The conduct of government under pluralist interpretations is essentially, though not exclusively, about resolving the conflicting interests of those

14

Pressure Group Analysis

pressure groups most concerned with the particular issues of the day. The

policy outcomes are the results of shifts in the balance of competing social and political forces throughout society (Schattsneider, 1960, p.141). This does not imply that government is simply the passive register of competition between pressure groups, for it too can have independent interests and be a major participant in the struggle to determine policy (Lindblom, 1963, p.13; Richardson and Jordan, 1979, p.17; Smith, 1990, p.305).

Another mainstream pluralist argument is that social 'disturbances', whether caused by actions of government or of powerful groups, will mobilise previously unorganised interest communities. To avoid this possibility, there is a strong incentive among government officials and

group leaders to moderate the effects of policy and temper the demands made on policy resources (Milbrath, 1963, p.345). Cross-cutting solidarities, or overlapping memberships, are also used to explain the moderation of

government policies and pressure group demands (Truman, 1951, pp.512-3). Most individuals in complex societies are held to be either directly involved in groups, or indirectly to identify with pressure group objectives.

Loyalties and actions demanded or expected through these various associations can often be incompatible. When faced with such a dilemma, some theory suggests that individuals will more likely 'perceive the value of reasonableness and compromise, or to be torn to such an extent as to be reluctant to make any choice at all' (Dowse and Hughes, 1983, pp.136-7).

The political actions of pressure groups will thus tend, respectively, to be either moderate or moribund.

A further feature of theories of pluralism is the view that there exists a 'set of rules' by which political actors operate, and by which political relations are conducted. These rules are presupposed by the inequalities that exist in the level of political resources each actor can bring to bear on the political system, and are endorsed by an elite consensus that recognises the need to agree on processes of engagement for resolving political conflicts in society.

Such rules require that opposing political forces have access to government decision-makers, that violence, intimidation and fraud be barred from the political arena, that political demands and actions be driven by instrumental concerns rather than ideological concerns, and that no single

15

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

group be allowed to dominate governmental processes (Gusfield, 1962,

pp.19-30). The sanction for any breach of these rules is that pressure groups with relatively untrammelled access to policy processes may be replaced by pressure groups with relatively closed channels of access.

Alternatively, unorganised interest communities may be mobilised to see the rules restored (Dowse and Hughes, 1983, p.136).

A final feature of theories of pluralism is the view that social compliance with governmental authority is mediated through the direct affiliation of members or the indirect identification of unaffiliated members with the aims of particular groups. The structure of competing, autonomous pressure

groups serves to insulate government from the excessive demands of individuals within society by virtue of the muting effect of overlapping memberships, elite consensus over the rules of the game, bargaining relationships and tendency towards moderation in group demands (Lipset,

1963, chapter 3; Jordan and Richardson, 1987, p.181). In turn, through group affiliation or identification, society in general is provided with a sense of political involvement, and because of this, and the benefits derived through the intermediation of groups between the social order and the political order, individuals tend to support the system and hence the

system's rules and outcomes.

Corporatism, in so far as it is applied to the analysis of liberal democracies,3 starts in a similar fashion as pluralism by viewing government as the main provider of rules, regulations and policies, but parts company by regarding decisions taken by government as primarily the outcome of negotiations

conducted with major producer groups. Access to government is not considered to be open to all pressure groups, but skewed in favour of a select few. This bias stems from the government's power to grant certain

pressure groups rights of incorporation. By this it is meant that government

has the power to license or recognise the exclusive right of pressure groups to represent particular interest communities, and on the basis of this right, to grant them certain prerogatives and powers over the formulation and administration public policies (Schmitter, 1974, p.13). A government may

be moved to grant such rights when it believes the conduct of policy will be enhanced by negotiations with pressure groups that have specific expertise or are representative of major interest communities. Organisational and

16

Pressure Group Analysis

ideological affinities can also lead to incorporation as a means of protecting

certain organised interests. Rights of incorporation may also be extended to powerful pressure groups as a way of utilising their organisational capacity to support or administer some policy measure (Dunleavy and O'Leary, 1987, p.196).

By far the most important motive for incorporation, and one of the defining features of corporatism, is the ability of producer groups to frustrate the political administration of national economic policies. Key groups in this regard are considered to be those representing the interests of 'labour'

(trade unions and professional associations) and 'capital' (employer associations and farming organisations) (Lehmbruch, 1977, p.96). These particular pressure groups are regarded as having resources of influence that are qualitatively different to those representing other areas of social life, the most important of which is the capacity to determine income, employment and investment outcomes. This capacity is seen as a barrier to the effective conduct of economic policies, and reflects a balance of influence

that is biased against government and its ability to intervene in decisions taken by producers. The granting of rights of incorporation to producer groups is thus a positive measure undertaken by government to control the behaviour of such groups and thereby temper the extent of the bias

(Williamson, 1989, pp.204-5).

The implication here is that partnerships involving incorporated pressure groups and government are not always equal, and that government is highly dependent upon the incorporation of pressure groups representing major interest communities as a means of successfully conducting policy

(Nedelman and Meier, 1977, p.40). This dependence is not all one way, however. Incorporated groups are generally dependent upon the good graces of government to retain their exclusive right to represent interest communities. Incorporation not only provides groups with political

advantages over unincorporated when trying to influence policy outcomes, it also helps to heighten the legitimacy of the causes they represent and facilitates the social acceptance of their political activities. All these factors are important for attracting and retaining members (Schmitter, April 1977,

p.34; Nordlinger, 1977, pp.168-74). Although not necessarily always equal, the dependence of incorporated groups on government endorsement means

17

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

that corporatist partnerships are generally held to be grounded on a mutual

accommodation or collaborative interdependence that is expect to yield benefits for all participants.

Another feature of corporatism is the assumption that obligations undertaken and trade-offs agreed within partnerships occur because all participants are capable of delivering on commitments and offering certain rewards. For government to be assured that obligations extracted from incorporated groups or rewards offered to them will ultimately benefit the conduct of policy, requires the existence of negotiating partners that are all-embracing and enjoy representational monopolies in relation to their constituents (Schmitter, 1979, pp.13-4, 21-2). Hence a necessary precondition of incorporation is that selected pressure groups must have the ability to control the actions of members, either through the provision of rewards or the threat of exclusion. Moreover power within such groups must be hierarchically distributed with a leadership at the top, such that commitments given by pressure groups to other participants in a partnership are enforceable on the membership, even when these commitments do not command majority support.

A final feature of corporatism is the view that social compliance with governmental authority is mediated through structured relationships that allow for inter-group and group-government collaboration. It is a system of interest representation that stands beside (and sometimes above) the formal system of representative government. Collaboration between

government officials and the leadership of incorporated groups representing major interest communities provides the basis for social and political stability (Lehmbruch, 1979, pp.53-4; Cawson, 1978, p.178). It is in the context of these structures of collaboration that the institutional distinction between the social order and the political order is blurred. Planning and coordination between both orders are mediated through hierarchies of

authority vested in the leadership of organised private interests and organised public interests, with incorporated groups agreeing to take on responsibilities for the conduct of public policy and government accepting obligations to protect monopoly position of incorporated groups (Cawson,

1978, pp.184-5).

18

Pressure Group Analysis

Neither of these approaches is capable of providing a total picture of

pressure group-government relations. Indeed, there is enough empirical

evidence to suggest that pluralist and corporatist arrangements frequently co-exist within the one political system (Williamson, 1989, pp.63-6).

Mindful of this the present study draws on both conceptual approaches in accordance with their power to explain various aspects of pressure group politics.

Power and Political Access

It remains to say something about an important issue pertinent to the overall study of pressure group politics: the concept of 'power'. This concept has been the of subject of considerable debate over the years (see: Dahl, 1957, pp.201-15; Bachrach and Baratz, 1962, pp.947-52; Lukes, 1974, chapter 9). At the risk of some simplification, it is generally agreed that power implies the capacity to apply coercive sanctions or positive

inducements. The application of power by one party, whether by way of positive inducements or coercive sanctions, is also commonly said to exist when it brings about a change in behaviour in another party that would not

have otherwise occurred. A further characteristic of applied power is that its consequences in any given relationship must be intended (Bacharach and Lawler, 1980, pp.16-7).

In pressure group-government relations the application of political power will invariably involve some manifestation of these characteristics.

Substantial difficulties exist, however, in trying to gauge the actual exercise of power in such relations. By way of example, a pressure group may undertake action to bring about a particular policy decision by a

government. The government may indeed make the desired decision, but unless it can be substantiated that the government would not have taken the decision but for the action of the pressure group, it is difficult to conclude with any certainty whether the pressure group exerted any power in the relationship. This difficulty is compounded if the government fears that concessions to a pressure group will be construed as a lack of political leadership, or as constituting an infringement on its political independence, thus prompting it to maintain a facade that the decision was arrived at

19

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

irrespective of the pressure group's actions. Determining the power of a

single pressure group in any relationship with government can also be problematical when there are several groups seeking the same policy outcome.

Further difficulties can exist if a government tries to anticipate the likely response of a pressure group. When formulating a policy of relevance to a pressure group's interests, for instance, a government may regard the sanctioning potential or reputation for power of a pressure group and take account of its needs and concerns (Wrong, 1968, pp.673-81). If successful this will avert open conflict between the two, giving no clear indication of what power was exercised between the two parties. Alternatively, a

government may exercise power over a pressure group by successfully keeping its claims off the political agenda, again making it difficult to gauge any manifest power relationship. Another problem can arise if a pressure

group lodges an ambit claim on a government as part of its negotiating strategy. A pressure group may end up conceding ninety per cent of its claim in the hope of achieving gains on a crucial ten per cent (Martin, 1980, p.9), thus giving the notional appearance of a government having exercised the most power in the exchange.

Because of the problems associated with gauging the power of pressure groups in their relations . with governmental institutions, a more subtle and more decisive indicator could be said to exist in linking the political influence of pressure groups with their 'channels of political access'. Open channels of access can be regarded as an enabling condition that allows pressure groups to know what policy developments are in the pipeline, what views are held by policy-makers towards particular issues, what stage the policy process is at, and what opinions or demands are being put forward by other pressure groups. Adequate knowledge in each of these areas will provide a pressure group with advanced warning of the likely form a policy proposal will take, thus improving its chances of persuading government officials to take account of its claims. Open access can also be regarded as a means by which pressure groups feed information into the political process, educate political opinion about the interests and concerns held, and inform

government officials about the performance of existing policies. To these practical merits can be added a further reason from a theoretical

20

Pressure Group Analysis

standpoint, namely, that by . focusing on channels of access is a way of avoiding the need to engage generalised pluralist and corporatist assumptions about the balance or imbalance of pressure group power in society.

Theoretical Framework

So stated, the remainder of this chapter is devoted to setting out a theoretical framework for analysing the access of pressure groups to governmental policy processes. There are two dimensions pertinent to a pressure group's channel of political access. The first relates to a pressure

group's internal authority, the second to its external legitimacy. In so far as the first is concerned, a pressure group will display a high level of internal authority when it has the ability to link the activities of members to centrally determined objectives and strategies. It will also have the ability to reach concrete policy positions without risking the dissatisfaction of some sector of the membership. It will furthermore be able to make comprehensive or cohesive contributions to policy debates, commit members to obligations given to government officials, and conduct coordinated resistance against policy measures deemed to be against member's interests. A pressure group displaying these characteristics, as a general rule, will.be able to offer rewards and commitments to government officials,

such that its external legitimacy prospects of being invited to participate in negotiated trade-offs over policy will be high.

Internal. Authority

Three. things. determine the level of a pressure group's internal authority. The first relates to the structure of representation within a given area of social interest: A unified structure denotes a form of representation with little or no competition between constituent organisations for membership

and influence. In such circumstances, pressure groups will have a monopoly over the affiliation of new members and dissatisfied members will have few options for moving between different organisations. The membership is thus captured, so to speak, such that the functional costs expected of

21

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

members to forego some degree of independence through their affiliation

will be relatively high. Accordingly, the pressure groups concerned will have a high degree of internal authority over the actions of members. A fragmented structure, on the other hand, denotes a form of representation where competition exists between constituent organisations covering a

social interest. In such circumstances, there is no monopoly over the affiliation of new members, and dissatisfied members have the opportunity to transfer their allegiance to other organisations. The expectation of members to forego some degree of independence through their affiliation will be low as a consequence, as will the internal authority of the pressure

groups concerned. In both scenarios the option of non-membership must also be considered. Where the option of non-membership amongst the potential membership within a category of social interest is widely practiced, the internal authority of the organisations in question will be weakened as if there was a competitive structure of representation. The

range of issues covered by pressure groups within a structure of representation is also important. Where constituent organisations within the structure are concerned with a wide range of issues, they will usually find it difficult to agree on concrete positions without risking the dissatisfaction of some segment of their memberships. In such cases, the internal authority of the pressure groups in question will be weakened.

Where organisations are concerned with a narrow range of interests, the opposite will be the case.

The second determinant of internal authority is the mode of affiliation.

Here a distinction can be drawn between organisations that affiliate other organisations, and those that affiliate individual members. Pressure groups can be federations of smaller groups, they can be unitary organisations that affiliate individual members directly, or they can be hybrid organisations

affiliating both smaller groups and individual members. Groups organised on a federal structure will normally allow constituent groups considerable autonomy to pursue courses of action tailored to meet the needs of individual members. They can also be expected to have complex governing

structures that allow affiliates substantial representational rights in decision-making forums. As organisations affiliating other organisations, federated pressure groups will furthermore have smaller memberships than

22

Pressure Group Analysis

the mass memberships common of unitary groups. As affiliates have

organisational capacity in their own right, executive decision-making processes in the central organisation to which they belong will be open to the possibility of high levels of scrutiny and organised challenges. The

internal authority of such pressure groups can be expected to be low as a consequence. Unitary groups, on the other hand, will normally have comparatively simply governing structures because individual members are directly linked to the central organisation. Because such groups do not have to deal with intervening organisations, the representational rights of

members will be weaker and decisional processes will be more centralised than in the case of federated groups (Ippolito and Walker, 1980, pp.311-2).

Moreover, because the hierarchy of internal power is more centralised and direct, individual members can be expected to find it more difficult to scrutinise and mount organised challenges to executive decisions. As such,

the internal authority of such groups will be high (Michels, 1962).

The third determinant is the voting arrangements by which executive decisions are taken. The degree of discretionary decision-making conferred on the leadership by voting procedures is critical to the ability of pressure groups to reach concrete policy positions and undertake obligations on behalf of the membership. The application of voting procedures normally

depends on the size of pressure groups and the structure of their affiliation.

In general, organisational policies in large mass-based groups will normally be determined by a small number of leaders, whereas decisional responsibilities in federated pressure groups will often be spread between

the membership and the organisations to which they belong (Ippolito and Walker, 1980, pp.315-6). A more precise gauge in this area can nonetheless be made by drawing a distinction between voting arrangements that confer either high or low powers of veto on executive decision-making decisions.

High powers of veto can be said to exist when decisional procedures are subject to unanimity (all votes cast), qualified majority (two-thirds of votes cast) or consensus voting arrangements. In such cases, the authority of the leadership is tempered by procedural constraints imposed by a minority of the membership. Low powers of veto exist when processes are subject to

simple majority (one-half + 1 of votes cast) or 'unilateral' (anything less than one-half of votes cast) voting arrangements. The internal authority of

23

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

pressure groups, in such cases, will be comparative high because of the

fewer constraints imposed on executive decision-making processes by the

membership.

External Legitimacy

Pressure groups displaying a high degree of internal authority will normally have grounds for claiming government recognition of their right to be heard during deliberations on policy. However, whilst it is not uncommon for governments to confer rights of political access simply on the basis of a pressure group's internal authority, wider economic, social and political factors can also play a part (Martin, 1980, p. 4-5). Where, for

instance, a government is judged by an electorate on its competence to manage the economy, notwithstanding any ideological or political reservations it may hold towards engaging pressure groups per se, it will usually confer more legitimacy on pressure groups representing economic interests than those representing other interests. The same can also be said of governments elected to maintain the status quo in relation to the distribution of national wealth. In such cases, pressure groups defending the economic interests of a section of society are likely to be received more favourably in government circles than those committed to radical change.

Prevailing social attitudes are also important, in that they can bestow more external legitimacy on the political actions of some pressure groups and less on others. If, for example, the weight of social opinion strongly favours the activities of environmental groups, the political culture of civil society will

be such that government officials are unlikely to be subject to any

substantive public criticism , for engaging such groups in dialogue over the formulation and administration of relevant policies. Where public sentiment is not so favourable to environmental causes, the reception of government officials towards groups representing environmental issues will

be less. More generally, pressure groups invariably reflect the attitudes of the social communities they represent. This can often translate into organisational prejudices and preferences towards engaging in certain forms of political activity. Groups representing a membership that hold the

threat to frustrate the operation of public policy to be a legitimate course of

24

Pressure Group Analysis

action, for instance, will inevitably be viewed differently in government

circles to groups that hold such action to be extreme. To the extent that different social attitudes filter into the organisational ethos of pressure groups, the external legitimacy of pressure groups in the eyes of government office-holders can depend on how the scope, intensity and objectives of the political activities they undertake reflect the attitudes of their members (Martin, 1980, pp.2-4).

The character of the political system can also have a bearing on the external legitimacy of pressure groups. Where, for instance, a political system consists of parties that hold to conviction politics, the political

activities of pressure groups will normally be conferred with less external legitimacy than when dominant political credo is founded upon consensus politics. Similarly, where a political system consists of parties that are

imbued with notions of 'liberal individualism', the prospects of a high external legitimacy being conferred on the political activities of pressure groups will be lower than when political parties accept the need to incorporate organised social interests into the policy process (Eckstein,

1960, pp.24, 27-30). A competitive two party political system will also be less favourable to high levels of external legitimacy by comparison to a multi-party political system. This is because party programmes and parliamentary activities are usually the subject to extreme forms of party

discipline, which tends to make the political process less vulnerable to the solicitations of pressure groups. To the extent that it does, it lowers the value pressure groups in the political process, along with their external legitimacy. In multi-party systems, because party programmes are less general and less subject to high levels of party discipline, the political process is often more open to pressure groups. Their worth is consequently higher, and so also is their external legitimacy. Organisational, associational or 'common interest' linkages between political parties and

pressure groups can nevertheless counter this general rule. Where, for instance, a pressure group is allied to a party that dominates political process, the external legitimacy of the organisation in question can be relatively high. Finally, the technical or logistical necessities of public policy can also have a bearing on a pressure group's external legitimacy,

25

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

particularly if a policy requires expertise or cooperation from the pressure

group for its effective implementation (Eckstein, 1960, pp.22-3).

These dimensions, combined, constitute the 'deeper' structural determinants of channels of political access, the surface phenomenon of which is revealed in how and what governmental institutions and political

processes pressure groups act upon when trying to influence policy outcomes. As a general rule, a combination of high internal authority and external legitimacy will normally be rewarded by a pressure group securing relatively open channels of access to policy processes. Such an organisation can be expected to be favoured by social, economic and political conditions that confer it with high external legitimacy in the eyes of government office-bearers. It can also be expected to be highly representative of the potential

membership, non-competitive in terms of attracting and maintaining members, hierarchal in executive decision-making and able to control the actions of members. It will have relatively open political access on the basis of these circumstances and characteristics, and by virtue of this openness it can be assumed to be politically influential. Conversely, a combination of low internal authority and external legitimacy will be evidenced in a pressure group having little control over the activities of members, and few opportunities to have its political claims recognised within government policy processes. A pressure group's channels of access under these

circumstances will be closed, and so its political influence will be limited.

Endnotes

1. Some elaboration is perhaps necessary here. If a policy of interest to a pressure group comes under state or local government jurisdiction, the pressure group in question can normally be expected to pitch its political claims at the state or local levels. If, however, a policy comes under federal jurisdiction, a pressure group can more usually be expected to be active at the

federal level. This being the case, even if a pressure group is organised on a state or local basis only, so long as it is active at the federal level or pursues organisational objectives with reference to national policy outcomes, it will be eligible for inclusion under our mode of selection.

26

Pressure Group Analysis

2. Thus, on the one hand, classical pluralism (Bentley, 1908; Truman, 1951), systems analysis (Easton, 1953), group theory (Latham, 1952), community power studies (Dahl, 1961; Polsby, 1971), reformed pluralism (Richardson and Jordon, 1979), corporate pluralism (Rokkan, 1966; Heisler, 1979), laissez-faire pluralism (Kelso, 1978) and neo-pluralism (Lowi, 1969; Lindblom, 1977), to name the most important, are all modes of analysis that form part of pluralist political thought. On the other hand, state corporatism (Manoilesco 1933), egalitarian corporatism (Pahl and Winkler), societal corporatism (Schmitter,

1974), liberal corporatism (Lehmbruch, 1977), sectoral corporatism (Lehmbruch, 1984), bargained corporatism (Crouch, 1983), selective corporatism (Schmitter, 1990), and meso-corporatism (Cawson, 1985), are all variations that have informed corporatist political thinking.

3. This qualification distinguishes recent forms of corporatist analysis (liberal corporatism or social corporatism) from older variants (state corporatism or authoritarian corporatism) used to describe the organisation of corporate states under fascist rule.

27

CHAPTER THREE

National Pressure Groups

In this chapter the character of Australian pressure groups operating at the national political level is examined. In so doing, it looks at the internal authority and other influences that contribute or detract from the external legitimacy of pressure groups. The discussion seeks to reach an approximation of the openness of channels of access likely to be made available to different types of pressure group. It is proposed to look at categories of group rather than prominent peak organisations. This is because the study of such organisations already has an extensive literature, which, for better or worse, has generally ignored the possibility that peak organisations often compete with their own constituents for political influence. Focusing on categories of pressure group will allow the exploration of this phenomenon and hopefully provide a better understanding of how different social interests are organised and represented at the national political level. The approach is thus specific in terms of categories of pressure group, and general in terms of specific pressure groups. It should be no surprise, therefore, that examples of individual groups in one category will overlap extreme examples of other categories.

29

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

The chapter is divided in accordance with the typology set out in chapter

two (see table 2.2), which classifies pressure groups on the basis of the interests they represent: business, labour, agriculture, professions, special situation and cause. In each category, survey findings relevant to the internal authority of pressure groups are detailed. The focus is therefore on the structure of interest representation (competitive or non-competitive),

mode of affiliation (organisations or individuals) and voting arrangements by which internal decision-making is carried out (simple majority, qualified majority, consensus, unanimity). Also referred to is what degree of

centralised control respondents felt their organisations had over the actions of affiliates (high or low).' In these regards, pressure groups that have a substantial or unilateral coverage of a given social interest are able to reach coherent and comprehensive positions on national policy issues, can commit their memberships to obligations given to policy-makers, are able to provide

substantive forms of support for government initiatives and are conceived as having reasonably good prospects of gaining access to government policy processes. In short, their external legitimacy based on their internal authority would be high. For some pressure groups this is not always the

case, as factors other than organisational attributes and their place within the structure of interest representation can play a part as well, for this reason reference is also made in each category to wider economic, social and political influences that contribute to or detract from their external legitimacy. The final section posits some brief conclusions about the

character of Australian pressure groups operating at the national political level, and sets the context for assessing their channels of political access in

the following chapters.

Business Groups

The structure of business group representation at the national political level is marked by enormous fragmentation. Indeed, business groups are the most prolific of all pressure groups operating at this level. Amongst those involved in the survey (67), almost all are organised on an industry

(or sectoral) basis. The majority of business groups affiliate organisations only (55%, number[n]=36/65), 2 either in the form of individual companies or

30

National

Pressure Groups

state-based peak organisations. The remainder affiliate individuals only

(25%, n = 16/65), or a combination of both organisations and individuals (20%, n=13/65). Almost half (43%, n=29) are compelled to compete for membership with other organisations, and nearly all (94%, n=62/66) place a 'high' or 'very high priority on informing national policy-makers of members' interests (see table 3.1). In addition to sectoral-based business groups there are also four general associations that can be said to represent broad sections of the business community. The Business Council of Australia (BCA) is closely identified with the interests of large corporations, both public and private; the Australian Confederation of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) predominantly represents small private manufacturing companies (Matthews, 1991, p.202); the Confederation of Small Business Organisations (COSBO) represents small family owned firms, and the Metal Trades Industry Association represents firms engaged in metal fabrication and construction.

The structure of interest representation amongst business groups is clearly diverse. Several reasons account for this. The first relates to the way decisions about production, investment and employment are undertaken autonomously by individual firms. This autonomy, in effect, generates different interests and modes of organisation among business entities, which makes cooperative endeavours between them difficult to achieve.

Most firms also seek to maintain or improve their market advantage over competitors, which has a similarly effect of acting against the emergence of common interests. Diverse forms of ownership are another source of difference. The interests of small family firms, for instance, rarely coincide with those of large corporations owned by shareholders. Nor do the interests of privately owned domestic companies often coincide with those of

multinational companies and industries owned by the state (see: Way and Hooper, 1992, pp.16-9; Juddery, 1989, pp.44-5; Gruen and Gratten, 1993, p.61). The political objectives of business groups are naturally conditioned by these diverse interests. A policy responsive to the gas industry, for

example, may threaten the survival of the coal industry, with business groups representing these disparate interests failing to agree on the merits of the policy in question. On a more general level, some business groups see government intervention as stifling the entrepreneurial initiative of their

31

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

membership, and so engage in political activity for the sole purpose of

reducing this intervention. Others, however, are more wary about reductions in government schemes and subsidies, and so are more inclined to undertake political action to defend the status quo (Pressure Group

Survey, derived from answers given to question 15).

Table 3.1 Business Groups (n=67)

What is the yearly budget of your organisation and its source of revenue?

Source: (n1=65) ave

— affiliation fees 82.3

— public donation 0.2

— government grant 0.3

— government subsidy 0.8

— other 17.5

How many affiliated organisations and/or individual members does your organisation represent? (n1 =65)(a)

% (n)

— individual members only 24.6 16 — organisations only 55.4 36

— individuals and organisations 20.0 13

Budget: (n1=56) median

$1 million

How are executive decisions reached in your Does your organisation compete with other interest organisation? (n1=51)(b) organisations for membership? (n1=67)

% (n)

— unanimity 21.6 11

— qualified majority 19.6 10

— consensus 19.6 10

— simple majority 39.2 20

What degree of internal authority or control does your organisation have over its membership? (n1=62)

o ho (n)

— very high 0.0 0

— high 16.1 10

— low 35.5 22

— very low 48.4 30

% (n)

— yes 43.3 29

— no 56.7 38

What level of importance does your organisation place on informing government of members' interests? (n1=66)

% (n)

- very high 74.3 49

—high 19.7 13

— low 3.0 2

— very low 3.0 2

(a) For the purpose of the argument presented in this chapter, the compilation figures drawn from this survey question refer to the mode of representation only. This applies for all subsequent tables.

(b) Smaller sample due to invalid responses (ie. multiple answers to the question) n =number of groups in survey

sample; n1 =number of groups providing valid response to survey questions.

Source: Pressure Group Survey, questions 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14a.

32

National Pressure Groups

To the extent, that the environment in which business groups operate is

competitive, the prospect of discontented members defecting to other organisations is relatively high. The option of non-membership is similarly high, and so the functional costs expected of members to forego some degree of independence through their affiliation with business groups is low. The competitive structure of interest representation in which business groups operate, thus confers them with very little internal authority over the actions of members. The nature of executive decision-making and mode of affiliation most common to the this category of group only serve to reinforce this condition. Executive decision-making in most business groups (61%, n=31/51) is constrained by voting procedures that require unanimity, qualified majority or consensus, which means that members have high powers of veto of the decision-making procedures of their organisations. At

the same time, three quarters of business groups (75%, n=49/65) affiliate organisations, which means the prospect of organised challenges to decisions undertaken by the leadership is high. It is therefore not surprising that among those involved in the survey, few (16%, n=10/62) could claim to have a 'high' or 'very high' level of control over the activities of their members. Indeed, a little under a half (48%, n=30/62) stated that they had very few prerogatives in this regard (see table 3.1).

It would be wrong to infer from this, however, that business groups are ineffective at the national political level. It is clear, for example, that businesses in Australia hold a pivotal position in the national economy.

Their activities (manufacturing, mining and services) account for 85 per cent of the country's gross domestic product, 92 per cent of employment and 40 per cent of exports (Australian Bureau of Statistic, 1995). Because the bulk of production, employment and investment in Australia is undertaken by business entities, their success is a fundamental source of national

economic wealth. For governments judged increasingly by an electorate on the basis of their economic competency, the ability to apply policies that facilitate successful business outcomes offers an attractive prospect for raising government revenue without raising taxes, as well as increasing public expenditure and reducing unemployment. The failure to act

appropriately offers the alternative of disinvestment and capital flight, leading to business failures, declining economic growth, reductions in

33

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

government finances and rising unemployment, all of which are a threat to

the electoral fortunes of any government (see: Rowse 1978a; Rowse 1978b; Walter 1988; Watts 1988; Kemp, 1988, pp.362,371; Emy and Hughs, 1991, p.559; Tsokhas, 1984; Lonie, 1978; de Angelis and Parkin, 1990, p.311). It is in the context of these dynamics that national governments operate largely within a framework determined by the needs of private capital, which makes them highly receptive to approaches made by business groups.

Other factors that are advantageous to the external legitimacy of business groups exist in the social prestige attached to private enterprise. This is evidenced in the way most people are inclined to vote for political parties with pronounced pro-business credentials. In line with this sentiment, the media coverage of business enterprise and business leaders is generally favourable. This undoubtedly has much to do with the media's direct ownership by private interests, as well as its heavy reliance on business advertising. Whatever the case, the the fact remains that most coverage gives corporate leaders a favourable public profile and places a positive

image on the activities of private enterprise (Jaensch, 1988, p.195; Windschuttle, 1985). Another important advantage stems from the fact that most government office holders share the same middle-class outlook as business leaders. This is apparent in the way politicians from both sides of politics move relatively freely to senior posts inside large corporations. All these factors add up to the exertion of strong social and political forces that

are generally biased against any erosion of the status and importance of business interests, such that representative organisations are often conferred with more legitimacy at the national political level than their

organisational status warrants.

Against these advantages it remains the case that businesses are invariably placed in the paradoxical position of entering into common associations with natural rivals. The sheer diversity of business interests and the fragmentation of their organised representation at the national level still frustrates their ability to speak with one voice. Many business

groups are also compelled to compete with rivals for membership and influence, and thereby cannot claim to be the sole representatives of the interests they speak for. The diverse political objectives pursued by business groups should also not be underrated, as there are few areas of

34

National Pressure Groups

government policy upon which all can agree. The potential political

influence of business groups is thus diminished despite a range of economic, social and political circumstances that can only be considered as being generally favourable to their external legitimacy.

Labour Groups

By comparison with business groups, the organisation of labour at the national level is marked by a high level of unity. Trade unions, for present purposes considered to be the main representatives of labour interests, are organised on either an occupational or industry basis. State-based trade unions are normally members of state trades and labour councils, which in turn are affiliated to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

National trade unions are similarly organised and affiliated to the ACTU, and have branch offices in most Australian states. From the survey sample (11) _ the majority (91%, n=10) of trade unions represents individual members directly, the ACTU being the only exception in affiliating organisations only (55 in total). A large majority (82%, n=9) of trade unions enjoy unilateral coverage of the industrial sectors and fields of employment they represent, and a small majority (60%, n=6/10) place a 'high' or 'very high' majority on informing government of members' interests.

At the national level the ACTU is the unrivalled representative of labour.

Although it cannot claim to be the advocate of the entire work-force, it nevertheless represents around 95 per cent of rank-and-file unionists. It sets the policy agenda for the trade union movement as a whole and guides its member trade unions in their relations with government and employers.

It is also recognised by the national government and the national arbitration tribunal as the pre-eminent representative of the labour force.

The political objectives of the ACTU are essentially two-fold. The first set of objectives are principally directed towards complementing the activities of member trade unions at the level of industry. This involves efforts to influence particular policies as a means of promoting a balance of power that favours trade unions in their relations with businesses, as well as encouraging a favourable political and legal climate within which trade unions can pursue their aims. It also includes encouraging a pattern of

35

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

political representation and policy output by supporting governments

sympathetic to the interests of trade unions. The second set of objectives are broader in purpose, and seek improvements in the social wage of intending workers, unemployed workers and retired workers, regardless of their trade

union sympathies, as well as workers in general (ACTU ,nirneo, c.1995).

Several factors account for the relative unity of organised labour. On a fundamental level, the very concept of 'unity' is the basis upon which the power of labour groups rests. The ability to mobilise the collective strength of members as a means of exerting influence over matters concerning wage rates and conditions of employment has long been a driving force behind the propensity of workers and their organisations to unite. In the Australian context this has not always been apparent, as occupational,

ideological and regional differences within the trade union movement have long underpinned a highly fractured structure of representation at the level

of industry (Dufty and Fells, 1989, pp.151-5). At the national political level, the story has been vastly different, with the ACTU acting as the sole organisation representing the broad interests of labour. In recent years, also, the abatement of ideological divides, growth of service industries and new forms of employment, decentralisation of arbitral bargaining processes and declining memberships have forced labour groups to rationalise their organisational structures and cooperate more closely with one another. The ACTU has followed this up with a policy of encouraging the amalgamation

of smaller unions to form 'super unions' of the order of 100,000 members and upwards (Evatt Foundation, 1995, p.23). As this strategy has unfolded it has seen the proliferation of industry-based trade unions and reinforced vertical divisions between them at the national level. Important, also, has been the ACTU's Accord relationship with the Labor government, which

has encouraged its beleaguered affiliates to support the political initiatives of their umbrella organisation.

36

National Pressure Groups

Table 3.2 Labour Groups (n = 1 1)

What is the yearly budget of your organisation and its How many affiliated organisations and/or individual source of revenue? members does your organisation represent? (n1=11)

Source: (nl=8) ave

— affiliation fees 83.3 % (n)

— public donation 0.0 — individual members only 90.9 10

— government grant 0.1 — organisations only 9.1 1

— government subsidy 0.5 — individuals and organisations 0.0 0

— other 16.1

Budget: (nl=7) median

$3 million

How are executive decisionsreached in your Does your organisation compete with other interest organisation? (n1=11) organisations for membership? (n1=11)

(n)

— unanimity 0.0 0 % (n)

— qualified majority 0.0 0 — yes 18.2 2

— consensus 18.2 2 —no 81.8 9

— simple majority 81.8 9

What degree of internal authority or control does your What level of importance does your organisation place organisation have over its membership? (n1=9) on informing government of members' interests? (n1=10)

(n ) % (n)

— very high 0.0 0 — very high 20.0 2

— high 55.6 5 — high 40.0 4

— low 33.3 3 — low 30.0 3

— very low 11.1 1 — very low 10.0 1

n= number of groups in survey sample; nl =number of groups providing valid response to survey questions.

Source: Pressure Group Survey, questions 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14a.

The largely non-competitive environment in which trade unions operate negates the prospect of discontented members moving to other organisations. The option of non-membership nevertheless remains one that has been exercised by an increasing proportion of the total work-force in

recent years. On first reckoning, this might be expected to have a similar effect as it does on business groups, namely, that because of the high potential for disaffiliation or non-affiliation, the expectation of members to

37

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

forego some degree of independence through their association with trade

unions will be low. It might also be expected that trade unions would wield little internal authority over the actions of their memberships. This not the case. Survey figures pertinent to this category of group suggest that trade unions have a much higher degree of internal authority than business

groups, with a majority respondents (56%, n=5/9) claiming to have a 'high' or 'very high' level of control over the actions of members. Three organisational characteristics common to labour groups could be said to account for this discrepancy. The first relates to the fact that simple

majority voting in executive decision-making procedures is more widely practiced amongst trade unions (82%, n=9). Decisional processes are therefore not subject to the same high powers of veto by the membership as business groups. The second stems from the fact that most trade unions

(91%, n=10) directly represent individual members, which means their leaderships have more latitude for discretionary decision-making (see table 3.2). A further factor of importance is the overwhelming awareness amongst trade union officials that 'unity' is fundamentally important to organisational success. The inculcation of this awareness among the trade union members undoubtedly contributes to the relatively high level of tolerance (or deference) they display towards the central directives of their

representative organisations.

In itself, a high level of internal authority could be reckoned as contributing

to a high level of external legitimacy. However, other factors must also be taken into account. For example, business enterprise may be the primary source of national wealth, but it is also the case that much business cannot take place without the employment of labour. The organisation of labour

under trade unions bestows workers with considerable leverage to disrupt business processes. Despite falling trade union numbers, this leverage is still quite formidable in pivotal economic sectors such as public utilities and heavy industry. For national governments seeking to promote a favourable

business environment, the ability to apply policies that facilitate successful labour market outcomes and peaceful industrial relations is critical. The Labor Government's Accord relationship with the trade union movement is current recognition of this fact, though less institutionalised antecedents can be found in government support for tariff protection and the centralised

38

National Pressure Groups

wages system of earlier years. National governments may operate within a

framework determined largely by the needs of business interests, but they are also inclined to remain receptive to trade unions. This reception has traditionally been higher when sympathetic governments have held office, and particularly so over the past thirteen years. Trade unions have nonetheless had reasonable political access under more hostile governments, suggesting that their central place in the national economy contributes favourably to their external legitimacy (Castles, 1985, p.87; Howard, 1983, p.249).

Against these advantages the obstacles confronting trade unions are formidable. Public opinion and the media, for example, are generally hostile toward the aggressiveness and sanctions typically applied by trade unions (Martin, 1980, pp.137-9). There are also legal restraints on certain types of trade union actions, as well as socio-cultural impediments that confer a relatively low status on the type of occupations represented by trade unions.

These sentiments, in various ways, diminish the range of actions capable of being utilised by trade unions in their political activities. Furthermore, whilst the structure of interest representation at the national political level

may be marked by a considerable degree of unity, it is also the case that this unity is far from robust. Tensions exist between ACTU-affiliates representing high paid workers and those representing low paid workers.

Internal differences between trade unions exist over the ACTU's amalgamation strategies and the wisdom of the Accord. And the entry of increasing numbers of women into the work-force and the growth in white-collar and casual forms of employment has seen a dramatic decline in the membership of trade unions in relation to the potential membership (Evatt Foundation, 1995, pp.56-8). All these factors detract from the high external legitimacy labour groups derive from their relatively high internal authority and the pivotal place they hold in the national economy.

Agricultural Groups

The national representation of agricultural interests is marked by a considerable degree of unity. Amongst the agricultural groups involved in our survey (12), the vast majority (92%, n=11) enjoy unilateral coverage of

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

the commodity sectors they represent. Most (75%, n=9) affiliate regional or

state-based farm associations. Only a few agricultural groups affiliate individual members only (17%, n=2) or a combination of organisations and individuals (8%, n=1). Most (92%, n=11), also, place a 'high' or 'very high' priority on informing government of members' interests (see table 3.3). The

National Farmers' Federation (NFF) is the single most important peak

organisation representing the broad interests of the farming community, and affiliates twenty-eight major national commodity groups and state-based peak organisations.

The relatively unified structure of agricultural representation is interesting in view of the fragmentation that marks the business community. In common with the business sector, there is considerable diversity between constituent interests that make up the agricultural community. Some farms produce a wide variety of commodities, employ many workers and apply labour-intensive farming methods. Others engage in specialised crop and animal production, employ few workers and are highly capitalised. Some farms are small family owned concerns that produce for a local or regional community, others are large commercial agri-businesses that supply food-processing industries (Ockwell, 1990, pp.32-8). In short, agricultural interests and business interests are divided by similar differences in their patterns of ownership, economic organisation and modes of production.

Despite this similarity, the organised representation of agricultural interests is nonetheless more unified than the organised representation of

business interests.

The reasons for the discrepancy are complex, but essentially stem from the fact that farmers, more than any other social group, see themselves as a distinct social community (see Matthews, 1991, pp.198-200). This can be reasoned in the following way. Farmers believe their activities are pre-eminently crucial to the national welfare because food supplies depend

solely upon their efforts and expertise. Over the past two decades, they have come to see themselves as a community increasingly vulnerable to global fluctuations in farm prices and the subsidisation and dumping practices employed by other countries. The impositions placed on overdrafts

and unsolicited credit advances made by large banks and lending institutions, together with an extended run of crop failures and

40

National Pressure Groups

unfavourable weather conditions in recent years have only served to

heighten this sense of vulnerability. Believing their efforts are largely unappreciated by urban populations and their problems ignored by politicians, there can be little doubt that what differences exist between farmers are largely supplanted by these shared perceptions (Aitken, 1982, chapter 11; Verrall, et.al ., 1985, p.21). To the extent that this has fed into a strong sense of common identity, it sets farming communities apart from their business counterparts and provides a primary reason for why the structure of interest representation in this sector is more unified.

Table 3.3 Agricultural Groups (n=12)

What is the yearly budget of your organisation and its How many affiliated organisations and/or individual source of revenue? members does your organisation represent? (n1=12)

Source: (n1 = 11) ave — affiliation fees 78.8 (n)

— public donation 12.7 — individual members only 16.7 2

- government grant 2.0 — organisationsonly 75.0 9

— government subsidy 2.6 — individuals and organisations 8.3 1

— other 4.0

Budget: (n1=10) median

$800,000

How are executive decisions reached in your Does your organisation compete with other interest organisation? (n1=11) organisations for membership? (n1=12)

(n)

— unanimity 18.2 2 % (n)

— qualified majority 18.2 2 — yes 8.3 1

— consensus 27.3 3 —no 91.7 11

— simple majority 36.3 4

What degree of internal authority or control does your What level of importance does your organisation place organisation have over its membership? (n1=11)on informing government of members interests? (n1=12)

(n) % (n)

— very high 0.0 0 — very high 41.7 5

— high 9.0 1 — high 50.0 6

— low 9.0 1 — low 8.3 1

— very low 82.0 9 — very low 00.0 0

n=number of groups in survey sample; nl =number of groups providing valid response to survey questions. Source: Pressure Group Survey, questions 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14a.

41

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Given this unity, it might be expected that the internal authority of

agricultural groups will be similar to that of labour groups. Like labour

groups, agricultural groups operate in a largely non-competitive environment, and so the prospect of discontented members moving to other organisations is low. If the NFFs claim to represent eighty per cent of Australian farmers is correct then the constraint of farmers exercising the

option of non-membership is even lower than that of labour groups. The importance of 'unity' for trade unions in raising the threshold of tolerance (or deference) of members to forego some degree of independence through affiliation could furthermore be said to have its equivalence in the 'country

mindedness' of farmers. Despite these similarities, it appears that the internal authority of agricultural groups is far lower than that of labour groups. Figures from the survey suggest that most agricultural groups (91%, n=10/11) have very little control over the activities of their members.

Claims of 'high' or 'very high' prerogatives in this regard are rare (9%, n=1/11), which reflect the decisional processes and mode of affiliation common to this category of group. Unlike labour groups, most executive

decision-making is reached through unanimity, qualified majority or consensus arrangements (64%, n=7/11). Affiliates thus have higher powers of veto over decision-making processes than is the case among labour groups. Also unlike labour groups, most agricultural groups affiliate

associations, which means the membership has the capacity to mount organised challenges to decisions undertaken by the leadership.

In so far as other factors conferring external legitimacy on agricultural groups are concerned, it is clear that farming plays a less important role in the national economy than either business or labour. The agricultural sector contributes just 3.6 per cent to gross domestic product, whilst those making a living off the land make up only 5.2 per cent of total employment.

Rural exports nevertheless account for 23.6 per cent of total Australian exports (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1995), and so the success of the agricultural sector is still important in national economic calculations.

Indeed, if it is considered that agricultural production is itself a form of business enterprise, it seems reasonable to argue that the previously mentioned dynamics that require national governments act predominantly

in the interests of business interests can be extended to include agricultural

42

National Pressure Groups

interests as well. To the extent that this is the case, national policy makers

are receptive to approaches made by agricultural groups. Also significant is the fact that many politicians from all sides of politics are themselves farmers, and particularly so in the case of the National Party, which provides a substantive link between the parliament and the farming community. These factors have undoubtedly advanced the external legitimacy of agricultural groups beyond their relatively low internal authority, which is apparent in the way agricultural groups have been influential out of all proportion with the small percentage of the population they represent (Neales, 1989, p.4). This is evident, not only in the fact that a whole public department exists to look after the interests of the agricultural sector, but also in the way farming is subsidised at a level that bears no relation to the number of people so employed.

Other factors contributing to the external legitimacy of agricultural groups flow from the way the farming community is held in fairly high esteem by the general population. This is in spite of the fact that most Australians reside in cities, there being little recipricol regard on the part of farmers.

This may be a product of the general fascination that many Australian have

with 'the bush', or the result of linkages established after decades of rural exodus, or simply arise out of the fact that living in a vast continent makes its hinterland difficult to ignore. Whatever the case, it is clear that urban populations have an affinity with what goes on beyond the outer reaches of their cities (Warhurst, 1990, p.109). In line with this interest, the plight of farmers confronting droughts and bank foreclosures is invariably depicted in a sympathetic light by the media. More generally, farmers are not often identified as workers or employers, and so political actions undertaken by their representative organisations are not considered as blatantly self-serving as those undertaken by business and labour groups. The combination of these factors contribute significantly to the external legitimacy of agricultural groups, such that national governments cannot easily ignore their approaches without running the risk of damaging electoral consequence that may extend beyond the farm vote itself.

There is little that could be said to detract from the external legitimacy of agricultural groups. It nonetheless remains the case that the internal authority common to groups in this category is low. The mode of affiliation

43

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

and the nature of decisional processes are major obstacles in this regard,

but so also is the inability of agricultural groups to apply any clear sanctions. Farmers cannot threaten to withdraw their labour in the manner of trade unionists, nor threaten to disinvest or invest abroad in the manner of business. Another problem confronting agricultural groups is that farmers, more than any other social community, rely heavily on cross-

subsidisation policies to help off-set the costs of living in remote areas. They also rely significantly on government-funded scientific research, marketing services, soil conservation programmes, export assistance and drought relief, as well as regulations to protect against the dumping practices of other countries and, in certain commodity sectors, the maintenance of tariffs. The nature of this dependence provides national governments with considerable leverage over agricultural groups, who must remain on good terms with policy-makers to ensure the maintenance of funding and regulations that protect the interests of their memberships. Having said this, these problems do not detract greatly from the fact that groups in this category enjoy a level of external legitimacy that off-sets their relatively low

internal authority.

Professional Groups

Every commonly acknowledged profession has an organisation to push for the advancement of the individuals engaged in that profession. Typical of groups in this category is the Australian Association of Dietitians,

Australian Medical Association, Institute of Engineers, National Institute of Accountants, Australian Institute of Building and the Australian Curriculum Studies Association. The political objectives of professional groups are principally directed towards protecting the standards and welfare of those employed in professional occupations. To this end, their

attention to the type of regulations imposed on their membership, prescribing conditions of entry into professional occupations, monitoring government activity and trying to apply codes of conduct or ethics to stem the enactment of unwanted regulation over professional activities

(Australian Council of Professions, c.1995, promotional brochure; Pressure Group Survey, derived from answers given to question 15).

44

National Pressure Groups

Table 3.4 Professional Groups (n=17)

What is the yearly budget of your organisation and its How many affiliated organisations and/or individual source of revenue? members does your organisation represent? (n1=16)

Source: (nl=16) ave

— affiliation fees 66.3 % (n)

— public donation 0.0 — individual members only 56.3 9

— government grant 3.6 — organisations only 12.5 2

— government subsidy 0.3 — individuals and organisations 31.2 5

— other 29.9

Budget: (n1=14) median

$1.5 million

How are executive decisions reached in your organisation? (n1=15)

(n)

— unanimity 0.0 0

— qualified majority 33.3 5

— consensus 0.0 0

— simple majority 66.7 10

What degree of internal authority or control does your organisation have over its membership? (n1=15)

Does your organisation compete with other interest organisations for membership? (n1=17)

(n)

— yes 29.4 5

— no 70.6 12

What level of importance does your organisation place on informing government of members interests?

(n1=17)

(n) % (n)

— very high 13.3 2 — very high 41.2 7

— high 33.3 5 — high 58.8 10

— low 26.7 4 — low 0.0 0

— very low 26.7 4 — very low 0.0 0

n=number of groups in survey sample; nl=number ofgroups providing valid response to survey questions.

Source: Pressure Group Survey, questions 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14a.

Because of the number of occupations covered by this category of group the

structure of representation of professional interests at the national level is marked by considerable diversity. Among the professional groups surveyed (17), most affiliate individuals only (56%, n=9/16), the remainder affiliate a combination of both individuals and state-based peak organisations (31%, n = 5/16), or organisations only (13%, n=2/16). A large majority (71%, n=12) are not compelled to compete with other organisations for members and most enjoy high rates of coverage over the professions they represent. The diversity of occupations represented in this category of group has so far

45

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

negated the emergence of a single general association that can claim to

represent all professional interests at the national level. The Australian Council of Professions (ACP) comes closest, affiliating twelve of the largest and most important professional groups, as well as several state-based peak associations (ACP, 1995). Although the ACP is the main representative of professional interests, all professional groups (100%, n=17) involved in the

survey place a 'high' or 'very high' priority on informing national policy-makers of members' interests.

The structure of representation of professional interests at the national political level bears a strong resemblance to that of labour interests. In common with this category of group, professional groups operate in a largely non-competitive environment. Also, the prospect of discontented

members moving between organisations is relatively low as is the organisational constraint of professionals exercising the option of non-membership. Moreover, just as 'unity' is important to membership adherence to the centralised directives of trade unions, so the 'prestige of

association' acts as an incentive for professionals to forego some degree of independence through their membership with professional groups. This is because professional groups preside over the validity of professional courses and have the capacity to set codes of ethics (subject to vetting by the Trade

Practises Commission). Affiliation thus confers professional legitimacy on members and distinguishes the standards by which they practice their professions. Based on these common attributes, it is not surprising to find the internal authority of professional groups to be second only to that of labour groups. Figures from the survey suggest that almost half (47%, n=7/15) can claim a 'high' or 'very high' degree of authority over the

activities of members. Consistent with this claim is the way most professional groups (67%, n=10/15) apply simple majority voting procedures in reaching executive decisions. Although not as prolific as labour groups,

this type of internal decision-making means that this category of group is less subject to the same high powered veto arrangements that commonly apply in business and agricultural groups. Also consistent with the claim is the fact that most professional groups affiliate individual members (56%,

n=9/16), which means executive decisions are less subject to organised

46

National Pressure Groups

challenges than in the case of agricultural and business groups (see

table 3.4).

These attributes denote a relatively high internal authority, and must be reckoned as important contributors to the external legitimacy of professional groups. Other factors important to this legitimacy exist in the way many groups in this category incorporate people holding key posts in major services provided to the Australian public. Government regulation of health care and the distribution of justice has a great influence on national standards of living. So also does the regulation of commercial and financial transactions have an important bearing on the quality and integrity of national business practices. Professional groups represent members that have highly specialised knowledge in these and similar fields of activity, as well as practical experience in applying such knowledge. There is a strong inclination on the part of government officials to tap this expertise and experience by referring matters relating to the practice of particular professions to the professional groups concerned. There is also a positive incentive to talk to professional groups when deciding on standards of professional licensing, choosing procedures to determine when these standards are met, and judging the competencies of both new candidates and continuing practitioners of a profession. Another advantage stems from professional groups being predominantly made up of well-educated, affluent

individuals who have a high status within the community. They are also more concerned than most other categories of group about the impingement of government regulation on their activities, and so are more inclined to join associations as a means of influencing the nature of this impingement (see:

Shepherd, 1992, p.9). All these factors contribute to high rates of coverage and confer a high degree of external legitimacy on the political actions of professional groups.

There are few disadvantages confronting professional groups, but those that

do exist are formidable. The major problem confronting professional groups in trying to take advantage of their relatively high internal authority and external legitimacy is a notable reticence on the part of members to apply

sanctions or support overt actions as a means of achieving political ends.

Whether for ideological reasons based on an aversion towards replicating the types of actions undertaken by trade unions, or for principled reasons

47

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

founded on managerial loyalty, or socio-moral reasons based on a reluctance

to withdraw services critical to public health and eduction, or simply for economic reasons, the membership of professional groups tend to be far more conservative than the membership of most other categories of groups.

As such, the relatively high internal authority and external legitimacy of professional groups is significantly diminished by an under-utilised potential based on the general conservatism of their memberships.

Special Situation Groups

There are a large number of organisations that can be classified as special situation groups. What distinguishes these groups is that their memberships share some genetic trait or common experience. Included in this category are religious groups composed of individuals holding similar religious convictions (for example, Council of Catholic Churches), senior citizen groups made up of the elderly (Aged Care Australia) and veterans'

groups that affiliate returned services personnel (Returned Services League). There are also disabled groups (Amputee Federation of Australia), women's groups (Women's Electoral Lobby), racial groups (Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies) and nationality groups

(Italian Committee Against Racial Discrimination and National Defamation), all of which are made up of people that are either disadvantaged or dispossessed within Australian society. The political objectives of such groups are as diverse as the organisations themselves.

Religious groups typically express opinions on political issues such as war, child poverty, third world aid and social policy. Senior citizens' groups take a keen interest in policies affecting pensions, superannuation, health care and other issues pertinent to people in their later years. Veterans'

organisations have strong opinions on the monarchy, defence matters and the welfare of returned soldiers. Women's groups are active in raising awareness of the inequalities that exist in the work-place and home, and racial and nationality groups are prolific in drawing attention to prejudices

against minority groups (source: Pressure Group Survey, derived from

answers given to question 15).

48

National Pressure Groups

Table 3.5 Special Situation Groups (n=29)

What is the yearly budget of your organisation and its How many affiliated organisations and/or individual source of revenue? members does your organisation represent? (n1 =26)

Source: (n1=27) ave

— affiliation fees 23.7 % (n)

— public donation 9.8 — individual members only 23.0 6

— government grant 34.2 — organisations only 30.8 8

— government subsidy 6.0 — individuals and organisations 46.2 12

— other 26.3

Budget: (n1=24) median

$700,000

How are executive decisions reached in your Does your organisation compete with other interest organisation? (n1=22) organisations for membership? (n1=29)

(n)

— unanimity 0.00 0 % (n)

— qualified majority 27.3 6 — yes 34.5 10

— consensus 31.8 7 — no 65.5 19

— simple majority 40.9 9

What degree of internal authority or control does your What level of importance does your organisation place organisation have over its membership? (n1=26) on informing government of members interests?

(n1=28)

(n) % (n)

- very high 7.7 2 — very high 60.7 17

—high 3.8 1 — high 17.9 5

—low 53.9 14 - low 17.9 5

— very low 34.6 9 — very low 3.6 1

n=number of groups in survey sample; nl=number of groups providing valid response to survey questions.

Source: Pressure Group Survey, questions 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14a.

Amongst the groups surveyed in this category (29), almost half affiliate a combination of both individuals and organisations (46%, n=12/26). The remainder affiliate organisations only (31%, n=8/26), or individuals only (23%, n=6). A significant majority (66%, n=19) have unilateral coverage of the interests they represent, and so are not compelled to compete with other organisations for members or influence. The criteria upon which this type of

group are founded are so varied it is not surprising that their structure of

49

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

representation is marked by considerable diversity. It is in fact nonsensical

to consider the existence or otherwise of a unified structure. The groups in this category cover interests that are rooted firmly in the social world and are not limited by the type of economic or occupational criteria which distinguish the previously mentioned groups. The result of this diversity is

that most special situation groups are also peak national bodies in their own right, with a large majority placing a 'high' or 'very high' priority on informing government officials of members' interests (79%, n=22).

The generally non-competitive environment in which these groups operate reduces the prospect of discontented members defecting to other organisations. The option of non-affiliation amongst potential members is nevertheless high. The reason for this rests on the type of motives that inspire people to join special interest groups. Unlike the previously mentioned groups, where the primary motive is grounded in the possibility of gaining or defending some material reward, members of special situation groups are more commonly motivated by the expectation of gaining purposive rewards. By this it is meant that people join for the simple satisfaction of participating in what they consider to be a worthwhile cause (Ippolito and Walker, 1980, p.280). This type of incentive, it could be argued, has an uncertain hold over existing members, and a less profound attraction for potential members than incentives based on material criteria.

The costs expected of members to forego some degree of independence through their affiliation with this type of group are consequently low. The Pressure Group Survey figures show that very few special situation groups (12%, n = 3/26) claim to have a 'high' or 'very high' level of control over the activities of their members. Indeed, this type of group appears to have the lowest level of internal authority amongst all categories of group. This is partly reflected in way executive decision-making in most special situation

groups (59%, n=13/22) is tightly constrained by voting procedures that require a qualified majority or a high degree of consensus. It is reflected more so in the fact that less than one-quarter affiliate (23%, n=6/26) individual members (see table 3.5).

Factors contributing to the external legitimacy of special situation groups outside those conferred by organisational characteristics are difficult to outline in any general sense. The size, history and attributes of groups in

50

National Pressure Groups

this category vary considerably. Some groups have only a marginal or

intermittent interest in developments at the national political level, religious groups being a notable example. Others, such as women and welfare groups, are highly organised and extremely active. What can be said is that although many Australians may not identify directly with the particular concerns of returned soldiers, disabled people, welfare recipients,

and so on, they nevertheless grant them and their representatives a certain degree of respect, tolerance or sympathy. The media is also often receptive towards public awareness campaigns conducted by these groups, particularly when they highlight some inequality, prejudice or injustice.

The 'specialness' of their concerns and interests in a country where 'fairness' and 'fair-play' are seen as part of the national ethos lends the political activities of this category of group a certain legitimacy not extended to other categories of group. Furthermore, their membership frequently crosses occupational, educational, economic and geographic

divides, such that national policy makers can ill-afford to ignore their approaches without risking some degree of electoral fallout.

By comparison with the previously mentioned groups, the disadvantages confronting special situation groups are considerable. In the first instance they have almost no internal authority over their memberships, and have few sanctions beyond raising public awareness as a means of influencing

national policy processes. Most (65%, n=19), according to the survey, are also highly dependent upon government subsidies and grants as a source of revenue (at an average rate of 42.25 per cent of total yearly revenue), which understandably, makes it necessary for them to keep on good terms with

government and bountiful administrations. More importantly, they face a far greater range of obstacles than the previously mentioned groups in trying to convince government to adopt the policies they advocate. The reason for this is that the political activities of this category of group are typically devoted towards encouraging radical changes in policies pertinent to the interests they represent. In representing the disadvantaged and

dispossessed, the general thrust of their advocacy in this regard is designed to encourage the government to adopt proposals, apply programmes or enact regulations that will alter the distribution of national economic wealth. As a consequence, they stand in contrast to categories of group

51

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

whose memberships have a stake maintaining the existing economic order.

With the partial exception of labour groups, this places them in direct opposition categories of group organised on economic or occupational criteria. The point to be made here is that groups defending the status quo have far more advantages over those advocating reform. Governments are extremely wary about moving too far on policy, no matter what the issue, for fear of its unintended consequences. New policies or legislative

initiatives must negotiate numerous obstacles, both political and procedural, before being adopted. This provides defending groups with considerable opportunities to impede the progress of policies deemed to be unfavourable to their memberships. In their role as reformers, the

advantages that enhance the external legitimacy of special situation groups must therefore be regarded within the context of this ever-present liability.

Cause Groups

Cause groups are organised on the basis of a shared interest in certain policies thought to be in the common good. Classifying organisations under this criteria is difficult, not least because identifying what policies actually benefit an entire nation can rarely be value-free. In general, cause groups

are distinguished by the incorporation of members seeking the achievement of a single political goal or who are devoted to a particular ideology. Some are established for the single function of bringing organised pressure to bear on government policy-makers as a means of soliciting some type of

action or inaction in a specific policy field. The Association Against Obtrusive Lighting, Movement Against Uranium Mining, Australians Against Further Immigration and the Australian Conservation Foundation are typical of groups in this category. Others, such as the Australian Rights

Movement,. Australian Council for Civil Liberties, National Civic Council and the Australian Consumers' Association have a distinct ideological outlook and are concerned with a broad range of issues. Unlike the previously mentioned groups, the members of cause groups do not stand to receive rewards significantly above those gained by the general population,

and particularly so in terms of material benefits.

52

National Pressure Groups

The criteria upon which these organisations are founded cover a wide range

of interests. In common with special situation groups, the diverse range of interests covered by this category of group negates the possibility of a unified structure of representation at the national level. The structure of representation is nevertheless relatively unified in terms of the specific interest areas covered by cause groups. The Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations, for example, represents the national political interests of eighty state, national and product-specific consumer organisations, whilst the Australian Conservation Foundation represents the interests of a number state-and-regional-based environmental groups.

Among those surveyed (42), a little over one-third (36%, n=13/36) affiliate a combination of individuals and organisations, the remainder affiliate individuals only (42%, n=15/36) or organisations only (22%, n=8/36). A

significant majority (68%, n=25/37) have unilateral coverage of the interests they represent, and most (82%, n=27/33) place a 'high' or 'very high' importance on informing government policy-makers of members' interests.

The generally non-competitive environment in which cause groups operate reduces the. prospect of discontented members defecting to other organisations. The option of non-membership exercised by the potential membership, which is nationally the entire population, is nonetheless high.

This might be expected to confer on cause groups a low level of expectation that members will forego some degree of independence through their affiliation. However the same purposive incentives that inspire people to join special situation groups also apply to cause groups. People join because

they hold a sincere belief that the issues being promoted are worthwhile.

Such motives could be expected to confer cause groups with a low level of expectation that members forego some degree of independence through their affiliation. To a certain extent this is true. However, those inspired to join cause groups often to do out of deep-felt convictions. They typically

display a high degree of intensity of concern and dedication to action, such that the level of tolerance or deference to central directives is higher than might be expected of groups that bring people together for non-material purposes. The survey figures show that one-third of cause groups

(34%, n=12/35) believe they have a 'high' or 'very high' degree of authority over the activities of members; and whilst this figure may not seem high it

53

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

is around three times higher than that of special situation groups. One

obvious reason for this discrepancy is that cause groups tend to operate under decisional processes that confer members with lower powers of veto, with executive decisions being reached predominantly through use of simple majority voting arrangements (57%, n = 20/35). Cause groups also display a higher incidence of affiliating individual members only, which

possibly accounts for their greater latitude to undertake discretionary

decision-making (see table 3.6).

Table 3.6 Cause Groups (n=42)

What is the yearly budget of your organisation and its How many affiliated organisations and/or individual source of revenue? members does your organisation represent? (n1=36)

Source: (n1=38) ave

— affiliation fees 44.4 % (n)

— public donation 18.6 — individual members only 47.7 15

— government grant 8.3 — organisations only 22.2 8

— government subsidy 8.3 — individuals and organisations 36.1 13

— other 22.0

Budget: (n1=30) median

$1,200,00

How are executive decisions reached in your Does your organisation compete with other interest organisation? (n1=35) organisations for membership? (n1=37)

(n)

— unanimity 5.7 2 % (n)

— qualified majority 11.4 4 — yes 32.4 12

— consensus 25.7 9 — no 67.6 25

— simple majority 57.2 20

What degree of internal authority or control does your What level of importance does your organisation place organisation have over its membership? (n1=35)on informing government of members interests? (n 1=33)

(n) % (n)

— very high 17.1 6 — very high 54.5 18

— high 17.1 6 — high 27.3 9

— low 22.9 8 — low 15.2 5

— very low 42.9 15 — very low 3.0 1

n=number of groups in survey sample; nl=number of groups providing valid response to survey questions.

Source: Pressure Group Survey, questions 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14a.

54

National Pressure Groups

Like special situation groups, it is difficult to generalise about the non-organisational advantages that contribute to the external legitimacy of cause groups. It is even more so for groups in this category as they span a

far wider spectrum of ideology and membership. What can be said is that cause groups are more often than not made up of people who are both affluent and articulate. This not only reduces the difficulty of raising revenue and disseminating literature and propaganda, it provides a core of people who usually have the time and energy to pursue organisational goals

(Browning, 1987, p.66). This is a particularly important attribute, as the conduct of public awareness campaigns plays a prominent part of the activities of this category of group. Public opinion can also be highly responsive to these campaigns. This is not only because the objectives pursued by cause groups typically proclaim beneficiaries outside the immediate membership, but also because they are not often seen to be as self-serving as the objectives pursued by other categories of group.

Furthermore, the interests and concerns of cause groups often cut across class, geographic, ethnic and occupational divides, such that their legitimacy in the eyes of the electorate is more widely diffused. This frequently makes for some uncertainty as to how much popular support the political demands of cause groups command. Political" leaders can rarely ignore these demands without running the risk that they will resonate with voters (Warhurst, 1986, p.107).

Against these enabling factors, the range of obstacles that retard the external political legitimacy of cause groups is considerable. These are broadly similar to those confronting special situation groups. In the first instance, cause groups are essentially reforming organisations (and particularly so in the case of those devoted to the advancement of a specific ideology). They thus face the same vested interests that have a positive stake in defending the existing status quo (Browning, 1987, p.62-9).

Secondly, cause groups are similarly unable to offer the type of material benefits to members as groups organised on economic and occupational criteria, which makes it difficult to attract and maintain members. Thirdly, cause groups also have few substantive sanctions beyond public

demonstrations with which to bring pressure to bear on government policy-makers. This makes it easier for government policy-makers to ignore their

55

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

demands. Other obstacles exist in the fact that the membership of cause

groups is usually small, and particularly so in relations to the potential membership. As such, cause groups often have fewer resources and personnel to call upon in comparison to other categories of group. They also have far more difficulty in claiming to be the legitimate representative of the community interest they purport to cover. Finally, the wide diversity of

narrowly-defined interests represented by cause groups means that they are less able to count on allies when pursuing political objectives, providing government policy-makers with some scope to ignore their lobbying activities.

Conclusion

The structure of interest representation at the national political level in Australia is predominantly non-competitive. On the evidence of the survey findings, almost two-thirds of pressure groups (73%, n=126/173) are not

compelled to compete with other interest organisations for membership and influence. Labour and agricultural groups operate in environments that are the least competitive. They accordingly have a monopoly over the affiliation of new members and dissatisfied members have few options for moving to other organisations. On this basis alone, it might be expected that the internal authority of these groups is high. This is certainly true of labour

groups, but has to be weighed against fact that the option of non-membership is widely practiced amongst the potential membership.

Agricultural groups do not suffer the same problem, at least not to the same extent, but their principle mode of affiliating organisations only and the application of decisional processes that confer high powers of veto on memberships weighs heavily against the internal authority of groups in

this category.

At the other extreme are business groups whose structure of representation is the most competitive of all the groups discussed. They accordingly have the fewest rights over the affiliation of new members, and dissatisfied members have the greatest opportunity to transfer their allegiance to other organisations. The option of non-membership is also high among these categories of group. For these reasons the internal authority of business

56

National Pressure Groups

and cause groups is amongst the lowest, although this is somewhat

ameliorated in the case of the latter by a marginally higher level of direct affiliation of individual members and the greater propensity of members to accept centrally determined directions.

The mode of affiliation and pattern of executive decision-making have a mixed influence on internal authority attributes. Almost two-thirds of national pressure groups are federations of some sort, either affiliating organisations only or a combination of both individuals and organisations (69%, n=116/166). This, for the most part, reflects the federal political system under which Australia is governed. In line with this system, the organised representation of individuals at the national level predominantly occurs via state-based organisations that are themselves affiliated to peak national bodies. The predominance of this mode of affiliation is not surprising. Most national pressure groups owe their existence to state-based organisations, who over the course of the century have moved to establish national representation as state frameworks of action became less important. State affiliates, whether by constitutional fiat or via the provision of funding, still wield considerable power over their representative organisations at the national level. This power is sustained by the existence of differing state regulations and conditions, which, for many pressure groups, reinforces the expediency of allowing state organisations some degree of autonomy to undertake actions tailored to meet their individual circumstances.

This mode of affiliation means that many national pressure groups are governed under complex structures that grant affiliates substantial representational rights in decision-making processes. This is partially supported by the survey findings, which suggest half (50%, n=73/145) operate under internal decision-making arrangements that place high powers of veto in the hands of their memberships. Although far from conclusive in its own right, this figure is made more significant when it is considered that there is a strong statistical correlation between pressure

groups that affiliate organisations only and pressure groups that operate under decisional processes that confer members with high powers of veto (r 2=.9639). The most typical organisations that combine these attributes are business, agricultural and special situation groups. There is a similar

57

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

correlation between pressure groups that affiliate individuals only and

pressure groups that apply internal decision making arrangements that

confer members with low powers of veto (r 2=.873). Because decisional

responsibilities are spread between the membership and the organisations to which they belong, among these groups it can be assumed that reaching comprehensive positions on national policy issues and committing members to obligations given to policy makers is rarely a straightforward process.

Organisations that combine these attributes are more commonly found amongst labour, professional and cause groups. For these organisations, the strategies and organisational programmes are determined by a small number of leaders, which presumably makes it easier to reach concrete

positions on national policy issues and commit memberships to obligations

given on their behalf to policy makers.

Accordingly, the latter categories of group can be nominally adjudged as having higher levels of internal authority than the former categories of group. Ranking categories on these criteria alone, however, can only serve as a rough guide to the relative internal power that exists between different categories of group. By any reckoning no category could be said to incorporate groups that entirely encompass a given interest community at the same time display organisational attributes that enable the commitment of members to centrally determined courses of action. Indeed, the average internal authority across all categories of group is generally

low, with almost three-quarters of the groups surveyed (72%, n=114/158) stating that they had a 'low' or 'very low' ability to control the actions of

members.

This has important consequences for pressure group-government relations.

First, if pressure groups generally have low ability to commit members to political courses of action, then the potential threat they pose to the application of public policy must be similarly low. Second, given this inability, it follows that they can offer little in terms of compliance or

guarantees in negotiated trade-offs with policy makers. Third, in so far as most pressure groups are not able to offer substantive rewards or undertake firm commitments with policy makers, it seems hardly realistic to assume

that government policy is overly subservient to pressure politics.

58

National Pressure Groups

It also has important consequence for the external legitimacy of pressure

groups. If very few pressure groups can claim a high degree of internal authority, on the basis of this criterion alone, then the vast majority could be argued as having little grounds for claiming government recognition of

their right to be heard during policy deliberations. What external legitimacy is accorded the political actions of pressure groups must therefore be predominantly derived from non-organisational factors. As inferred in much of the discussion so far presented, groups founded on economic and occupational criteria have clear advantages over groups founded on other criteria. The integral role of producer interests in national economic calculations, political and social opinions biased in favour of business enterprise and professional occupations, and political obstacles confronting pressure groups seeking to challenge the existing distribution of wealth, among others, are all factors that serve to raise the external legitimacy of economic and occupational groups above that of groups organised on other criteria. Having said this, however, what advantages these former categories of group enjoy are far from pervasive. All categories of group confront obstacles and can draw on political resources peculiar to their organisational attributes and the community interests they represent.

And no category of group operates in an environment that allows them to be consistently influential or unrivalled in their efforts to influence government policy outcomes. Pressure politics at the national level is therefore not dominated by any single category of group, but dispersed amongst a variety of group categories.

Endnotes

1. The findings in this last instance are subjective, and must be treated as such But it is worth noting that across all pressure groups a reasonably good statistical correlation exists between this indicator and the previously mentioned indicators. On the basis of the survey findings, for example, the correlation between a perceived high level of internal control and low veto powers over executive decision-making is, r 2 = 0.79; between low veto powers

and the affiliation of individual members only, is r 2 = 0.79; and between organisations affiliating individual members only and a perceived high internal

59

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

control, is r 2 = 0.82. Alternative permutations yielded similar results with an overall deviation of 0.01. The correlation between the perceived internal control

and an -organisation's competitive status within a general structure of

representation is less strong (r 2 = 4.5). This may be because the option of non-membership weighs heavily on most organisations, or simply that external

structural factors are less important than internal organisational attributes. A

statistical relationship nonetheless exists, if only a weak one.

2. Unless otherwise stated, references to survey data are cited as the proportion (%) of valid responses given in the survey sample pertinent to the category of pressure group under consideration. In the present case, two organisations

failed to respond to the survey question from which this information is derived.

Hence, the percentage is calculated on the basis of n= 36/(67-2)x100. For stylistic purposes this is simply listed as n=36/65, with the calculated percentage rounded up or down. Percentages cited throughout the study are similarly depicted where organisations choose not to respond, or provided an invalid response, to a survey question. In all other instances the percentages stated

refer to a full complement of responses: all groups (n=185), business groups (n=67), labour groups (n=11), agricultural groups (n=12), professional groups

(n = 17), special situation groups (n = 29) and cause groups (n=42).

•1

CHAPTER FOUR

Pressure Groups and Parliament

Accounts of the Australian system of government often refer to it as a compromise between two political systems, one based on the separation of powers, the other based on Westminster principles (see: Thompson, 1980, p.37; Summers, 1990, pp.4-9). As a means of determining the significance of the Australian federal parliament to pressure groups in their efforts to influence national policy outcomes it is useful to look at the twin elements of this compromise. The separation of powers doctrine has been developed in a fragmentary way by a number of writers, the most important of which are Locke (1970 edition), Montesquieu (1977 edition) and the authors of the Federalist Papers (1986 edition). In its purest form, the doctrine holds that

the functions of the executive, legislature and judiciary are separated, with powers conferred by a constitution on different persons and institutions.

Westminster principles of government have evolved in similarly fragmentary way out of a combination of theoretical speculation and applied practice. Their essence can be found in the early works of Dicey (Cosgrove, 1981), Mill (1984 edition), Bentham (1968 edition) and Burke

(Hill, 1975), whose observations still provide the substance of most modern day discussion about this style of government. At the heart of the system is the notion of responsible parliamentary government.

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Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

In both these models the unifying notion of an all-powerful legislature (or

parliament) is apparent. The separation of powers assumes the existence of a parliament that cannot be compromised by other branches of government and has the power of veto over public policy. The Westminster model asserts the existence of a parliament with powers to question and scrutinise the actions of government and, if unsatisfied, to overturn its decisions or force it or its individual members to resign. The Australian system of

government reflects many of the tenets embodied in these ideal types. The separation of powers doctrine is identifiable in a federal polity where power

is constitutionally divided between national and state tiers of government, between upper and lower houses, and between the government and judiciary. The Westminster model is reflected in a government chosen from the parliament and a head of state that is not the head of government.

Whilst there is considerable dispute over which system Australia more closely resembles (see: Thompson, 1980, p.24; Butler, 1973, p.7; Parker, 1980, p.12; Sharman, 1989, pp.5-6; Rydon, 1985, p.67), if any (Lucy, 1985, chapter 1; Lucy, 1991, pp.25-33), questions relating to the sovereign power of parliament have attracted comparatively little debate. Indeed, the consensus of opinion is clearly weighted against the significance of parliament in the processes of national policy-making. Its influence is

commonly regarded as limited by the scope, complexity and technicality of policy, as well the existence of highly disciplined parties, cabinet dominance, procedural constraints and adversarial proceedings (see:

Solomon, 1979, pp.189-96; Crisp, 1983, pp. 269-1; Summers, 1990, chapter 1; Hamer, 1995).

As Solomon puts it:

[T]he Australian parliament tends to be pettifogging rather than principled.

For the most part it is concerned with parochial rather than national affairs.

Backbenchers devote most of their time to the demands of aggrieved constituents and it is considered a virtue in a minister if he (sic) devotes personal attention to constituency matters, irrespective of the effect this

might have on his ability to manage his portfolio. The parliament is small and

small-minded. It attracts few outstanding men or women into national

political affairs — and very few rogues (1978, p.190).

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Pressure Groups and Parliament

And Summers:

Parliament's capacity to restrain the executive in the exercise of its power, and to render the executive responsible to the people over whom it governs, is severely limited. Disciplined political parties have placed the running of

parliament in the hands of the executive. The traditional procedures of parliament have been devalued, and do not provide an adequate means of

ensuring accountability of the executive and its vast bureaucratic administrative arm. The doctrine of ministerial responsibility that is central to the idea of responsible cabinet government has become little more than

rhetoric. Governments, relying on their parliamentary majorities, have been able to sidestep responsibility of governmental acts (1990, p.22).

Nor does the parliament figure too well in writings specifically addressing

parliament's relationship with pressure groups . As Matthews states:

One result of parliament's eclipse by the executive as a maker of public policy has been the decline in the importance and frequency of parliamentary activities in the strategy of most pressure groups (1980, p. 463 my emphasis).

And Crisp:

The very high degree of discipline usual in Australian parties, evidenced in almost every parliamentary division is a formidable barrier to the Canberra

lobbyist and one of the principle reasons why he directs his (sic) efforts very largely elsewhere in the governmental process (p. 175 my emphasis).

And Jaensch:

Parliament in Australia has changed to the extent where lobbying — direct attempts to influence members of parliament — is almost a waste of time. For

most legislation the function of law-making has passed out of the control of parliament to the cabinet — parliament debates and almost inevitably ratifies, but does not initiate legislation. Individual members of parliament have

become subservient to their parties: for most legislation, the party line will be

maintained. As a result, for most legislation, pressure groups have found that the lobby is a waste of resources, energy and time (1990, p.175).

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Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Pressure Group Contacts with Parliament

These statements suggest that pressure groups focus the bulk of their political activity on governmental institutions other than parliament. Put simply, the assumption is that the Australian federal parliament has little or no legislative authority, and so pressure groups are. not moved to seek

access to its forums and members as means of exerting influence over its

deliberations.

Table 4.1 Pressure Group Contacts with Parliament.

Does your organisation have regular contact with members of the House of Representatives and the Senate?

House of Representatives Senate

Category of Group (n) . Yes % (n1) (n1) Yes % (n1) (n1)

Business (67) 76.9 (50) (65) 66.2 (43) (65)

Labour(11) 81.8 (9) (11) 72.7 (8) (11)

Agriculture (12) 81.8 (9) (11) 81.2 (9) (11)

Professional (17) 35.3 (6) (17) 29.4 (5) (17)

Special Situation (29) 75.9 (22) (29) 51.7 (15) (29)

Cause (42) 64.8 (24) (37) 65.7 (23) (35)

Has your organisation ever had contacts with parliamentary or party committees?

Parliamentary Committees Party Committees

Category of Group (n) Yes % (n1) (n1) Yes % (n1) (n1)

Business (67) 82.5 (52) (63) 59.7 (37) (62)

Labour(11) 80.0 (8) (10) 70.0 (7) (10)

Agriculture (12) 81.2 (9) (11) 81.2 (9) (11)

Professional (17) 70.6 (12) (17) 31.3 (5) (16)

Special Situation (29) 75.0 (21) (28) 59.3 (16) (27)

Cause (42) 58.3 (21) (36) 61.0 (22) (36)

Channels of Influence (n) Yes % (n1) (n 1)

House of Representatives (178) 70.5 (120) (170) Senate (178) 61.3 (103) (168)

Parliamentary Committees (178) 74.6 (123) (165) Party Committees (178) 59.3 (96) (162)

n=number of groups in the survey sample; nl=number of groups providing valid response to survey questions.

Source: Pressure Group Survey, questions 16, 24, 32, 37.

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Pressure Groups and Parliament

There are grounds for questioning this appraisal. Findings from the

Pressure Group Survey suggest that the Australian federal parliament attracts a considerable degree of attention from pressure groups. Among those involved in the survey (178), a significant majority (71%, n=120/170, depicted as per footnote 2 in chapter three) stated that they had regular contact with individual members of the House of Representatives, whilst a slightly smaller majority (61%, n=103/168) said they had regular contact with Senators. Contacts with parliamentary and party committees also

figure highly as channels of access to pressure groups. A large majority (75%, n=123/165) stated that they had presented oral evidence, submitted written submissions or appeared before a parliamentary committee, whilst a smaller majority (59%, n=96/162) said they had contacts with party committees. Moreover, contacts with members and parliamentary forums

are broadly similar across all categories of pressure group, the only exception being professional groups, which appear to confine their contacts to parliamentary committees. Very few pressure groups (1%, n = 2) stated that they had no contacts at all with parliamentarians or parliamentary

forums (see table 4.1).

Nor do contacts appear to be restricted to a single party. Relatively few pressure groups (10%, n = 17/163) said they confined their contacts to members of a single party in the House of Representatives. An almost

similar number (11%, n=17/151) stated that they dealt with senators on the same basis (see table 4.2). The bulk of organisations dealing with a single party only are labour groups, their close relationship with the ruling Labor government possibly negating the necessity to make contact with members of other parties (Finance Sector Union, interview, April 1995), followed' by

agricultural groups, whose close ties with the National Party may have a similar effect (National Farmers' Federation, interview, September 1995).

Interestingly, a large majority of business groups are not averse to making contact with a range of parties, which perhaps reflects a degree of pragmatism in having to deal with parliamentary members of the party currently holding office (Australian Confederation of Commerce and

Industry, interview, September 1995). The same might also said of other categories of group, though it is possible that some operate under constitutional constraints that require they avoid engaging in partisan

65

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

politics, whilst others may be moved by organisational considerations

stemming from their memberships cutting across social divides (comments

made in Pressure Group Survey).

Table 4.2 Contacts with Political Parties

Are your organisation's contacts limited to one party or does it have contacts with a number of parties?

House of Representatives Senate

(n1) Number (n1) (n1) of Parties

(5) 91.7 (55) (60)

(5) 44.4 (4) (9)

(1) 90.0 (9) (10)

(1) 91.7 (11) (12)

(3) 85.7 (18) (21)

(2) 92.3 (37) (39)

Catego ry of Group (n) One (n) Number (n) (n1) One

Party of Parties Party

Business (67) 3.3 (2) 96.7 (59) (61) 8.3

Labour(11) 60.0 (6) 40.0 (4) (10) 55.6

Agriculture (12) 27.3 (3) 72.7 (8) (11) 10.0

Professional (17) 6.2 (1) 93.8 (15) (16) 8.3

Special Situation (29) 4.0 (1) 96.0 (24) (25) 14.3

Cause (26) 10.0 (4) 90.0 (36) (40) 7.7

One (n) Number (n) (n1)

Party of Parties

House of Representatives 10.4 (17) 89.6 (146) (163) Senate 11.3 (17) 88.7 (134) (151)

n=number of groups in the survey sample; nl =number of groups providing valid response to survey questions.

Source: Pressure Group Survey, questions 17, 25.

Aside from simply making contact, a significant minority of organisations also provide technical, logistical and other forms of tangible assistance to members of parliament. Among respondents to our survey a little over one-third (36%, n=61/167) said that they provided this type of support to members of the House of Representatives. An almost similar number

(33%, n=55/168) stated that they did so in relation to Senators (see table 4.3). Business and professional groups appear to be organisations that are the least likely to furnish this type of support, with labour and agricultural groups being the most inclined to engage in this form of activity. One reason for this discrepancy could relate to the way labour and agricultural

groups have far closer links with political parties than is the case amongst other categories of group. The movement of personnel from labour and agricultural groups to parliament is higher than other groups, such that

CYy

Pressure Groups and Parliament

informal networks of assistance are more readily established and

maintained (Australian Council of Trade Unions, National Farmers' Federation, interviews, May and September 1995). From interviews with parliamentarians, it seems that some of this assistance comes in the form of logistical support provided by pressure groups during electoral campaigns.

By far the bulk, however, appear to be in the form of parliamentarians being provided with access to the research facilities of particular pressure groups (interviews conducted in June 1995).

Table 4.3 Contact via Support

Does your organisation provide any technical, logistical or other assistance to one or more parliamentarians?

House of Representatives Senate

Category of Groups (n) Yes % (n) (n1) Yes (n) (n1)

Business (67) 30.7 (19) (62) 31.3 (20) (64)

Labour(11) 60.0 (6) (10) 40.0 (4) (10)

Agriculture (12) 72.7 (8) (11) 54.6 (6) (11)

Professional (17) 23.5 (4) (17) 29.4 (5) (17)

Special Situation (29) 37.9 (11) (29) 31.0 (9) (29)

Public Interest (23) 42.9 (9) (21) 45.0 (9) (20)

Cause (42) 34.2 (13) (38) 29.7 (11) (37)

Yes % (n) (n1)

House of Representatives 36.6 (61) (167)

Senate 32.7 (55) (168)

n= number of groups in the survey sample; nl= number of groups providing valid response to survey questions.

Source: Pressure Group Survey, questions 19, 27

Another method of contact commonly used by pressure groups is the mailing of information papers and briefing notes. Amongst the survey participants, a majority (75%, n=126/167) said they sent mail to members of the House of Representatives at least once a year. A slightly smaller

number (69%, n=113/163) stated they sent mail to Senators on a similar basis (see table 4.4). Relatively few (House of Reps: 10%, n=16/167; Senate:

11%, n=17/163) indicated they never engaged in this form of activity (see Table 4.4). Such mailing is sometimes solicited by members themselves.

Some appears to be directed specifically to members or groups of members

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Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

known to have an interest in a particular issue, or who sit on parliamentary

committees in which pressure groups have a direct interest in deliberations.

By far the bulk of pressure group correspondence, however, is directed to all members of parliament. Interviews conducted with several members of both houses suggest that around sixty to seventy per cent of their parliamentary

mail comes from pressure groups. Some of those interviewed read and filed most of their correspondence from this source in the belief that it may prove useful in the future. Most, however, tend to read and retain correspondence only if it is comprehensive and pertinent to areas in which they had a direct

interest. All parliamentarians interviewed agreed that the literature sent by pressure groups constituted an important source of information, and, when relevant and informative, could be highly influential in the

development of their views.

Table 4.4 Contact via Mailing

Does your organisation send information or briefings to members of parliament?

Regularly Often Occasionally Rarely Never (nl) Total

(monthly) (six monthly) (annually) (every 5 years) o ho (n) o ho (n) oho (n) % (n) % ( n) (n1)

House of Representatives 13.2 (22) 28.1 (47) 34.1 (57) 15.0 (25) 9.6 (16) (167)

Senate 12.9 (21) 25.7 (42) 30.7 (50) 20.2 (33) 10.5 (17) (163)

n=number of groups; n1 = number of groups providing valid response to survey questions.

Source: Pressure Group Survey, questions 18, 23.

The content of contacts between pressure groups and members of parliament is varied. It can be educational, simply aimed at informing members about concerns held by a pressure group towards a particular

issue or policy. It can involve efforts to solicit information about a legislative proposal or to gain an approximation of the government's likely response towards a proposal being advocated by a pressure group. It can involve requests to members to raise issues in party and parliamentary

meetings, debate an issue in parliament or table an amendment. It can include requests made to arrange meetings between the leadership of a pressure group and members sitting on particular parliamentary and party

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Pressure Groups and Parliainent

committees. Or it can involve requests to arrange meetings between

pressure group representatives and ministers responsible for a policy area in which they have a direct interest. Although no means exhaustive, table 4.5 gives some idea of the type of requests commonly put to members of

parliament by pressure groups.

Table 4.5 Requests Asked of Members of Parliament

Has your organisation ever asked an MHR or Senator to:

House of Representatives Senate

Yes % (n) (n1) Yes % (n1) (n1)

Table a motion? 8.7 (14) (160) 10.0 (18) (160)

Table an amendment? 21.9 (35) (160) 6.9 (11) (160)

Raise a parliamentary question? 36.8 (59) (160) 33.8 (54) (160)

Introduce or Sponsor a private members' bill? 5.0 (8) (160) 6.9 (11) (160)

Raise an issue in a party caucus? 30.0 (48) (160) 26.9 (43) (160)

Arrange a meeting at parliament house? 57.5 (92) (160) 40.6 (65) (160)

Arrange a meeting with a minister? 48.6 (78) (160) 38.8 (62) (160)

Sponsor a dinner 25.0 (40) (160) 20.6 (33) (160)

n=number of groups; n1 =number of groups providing valid responseto survey questions.

Source: Pressure Group Survey, questions 22, 30.

Basis of Contacts

From the figures set out in the above tables it seems fair to say that roughly three-quarters of pressure groups find members of parliament sufficiently important to have regular dealings with. Further, that the focus of pressure group activity is not overly biased in favour of any particular parliamentary forum or party. What differences can be discerned are that parliamentary committees are more patronised than party committees, and

that members of the House of Representatives are slightly more the subject of lobbying than senators. These differences apart, channels of access to parliamentarians and parliamentary forums across all categories of group are broadly similar. Business, labour and agricultural groups are slightly

more active in establishing contacts than special situation, public interest

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Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

and cause groups, the only exception being professional groups, which

appear to confine their contacts predominantly to parliamentary committees. Notwithstanding, it is clear that members of parliament are hardly neglected by pressure groups.

This raises the obvious question. If parliament plays such an insignificant role in national policy processes, why, then, do pressure groups spend so much time and effort in developing and utilising channels of access to its members and forums? There are, of course, the obvious circumstances when parliament actually does make decisions as distinct from merely endorsing policies introduced from elsewhere. Members can table private members' bills, ask parliamentary questions, move amendments, argue against

statutory instruments, and speak in grievance, urgency and other debates.

At times, they can even be granted a free vote. Yet such prerogatives are seldom exercised by individual members without some reference to the main policy thrust of the parties to which they belong, and are rarely successful in challenging the fundamentals of government policy.

It may be the case that pressure groups have misinterpreted the power of the parliament on the basis of these prerogatives, but this seems unlikely.

Most are headed by skilled practitioners well versed in the complexities of Australian political system, and as the findings set out in table 4.5 indicate, most pressure groups are not overly energetic in trying to persuade

members of parliament to act directly on their behalf during parliamentary proceedings. Some pressure groups do in fact misinterpret the legislative powers of parliament. But it is a considerable step to assume that the extent of lobbying directed at members of parliament can be explained by

the relatively few prerogatives they have over legislation during its passage through parliament.

Canvassing other possible reasons it could be argued that pressure groups lobby parliamentarians in the belief that friendly backbenchers may one day become friendly ministers. Governments can change, as well as ministers over the course of government's period in office. It is a matter of course that pressure groups try to establish a track record of contacts with

members rising through the system, as well as with those already there. It is also possible that the leaders of pressure groups are driven to seek

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Pressure Groups and Parliament

contacts with parliamentarians for no other reason than to look and feel

important. Members of parliament are certainly affable by instinct, this being an obvious job-related requirement, and are more than capable of conferring a sense of importance on those they meet, the leaders of pressure

groups included. For some leaders, also, being able to claim close 'associates' inside the parliament may confer a benefit in buttressing their position inside the organisations they lead, regardless of the worth of such associations. In this connection, such contacts can often help to justify the positions of pressure group leaders, bulking out their jobs and providing them with something to put into their annual reports. To 'walk the floor-boards of power', or to get away from monotonous places of employment, may also have its attractions. Whilst such sentiments may account for some of those seeking access to members of parliament, it is another thing to believe that this alone explains the extent of lobbying directed towards parliamentarians.

It could alternatively be argued that parliament is used by pressure groups in case they are unsuccessful in bringing about a desired policy outcome through lobbying other arms of government. As Crisp puts it, 'approaches at the parliamentary level may be employed by any groups, but especially by those without ready access to the various levels of the executive branch of

government itself, or having exhausted such approaches without scoring the necessary success' (Crisp, 1983, p.170). If this were the case, however, pressure groups with open channels of access to government would have less reason to contact parliamentarians than those with comparatively closed channels of access. In terms of the characterisation of pressure groups detailed in the last chapter, groups defending the status quo and organised on economic or occupational criteria (business, labour, agricultural and professional groups) usually have more open channels of access at the ministerial level than groups organised to achieve radical socio-economic change (special situation, public interest and cause groups).

Thus, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), National Farmers Federation (NFF), Business Council of Australia (BCA) and the Australian Medical Association (AMA), to name a few, are well known for their relatively open channels of access to government ministers. For groups such as the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), Australian

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Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Conservation foundation (ACF) and the Australian Federation of

Consumers' Organisations (AFCO), access at this level is not so assured.

The ACTU, NFF and BCA, together with other groups in the categories to which these organisations belong, might thus be expected to display less interest in maintaining channels of access to parliament than ACOSS, ACF, AFCO and other groups in the categories to which these groups belong.

However, as figures from the above tables demonstrate, there is very little distinction between all categories of group. Indeed, if anything, categories of group defending the status quo and with relatively untrammelled access to government ministers appear to be more active in their contacts with members of parliament than categories of group that have relatively closed access at this level. Whilst 'a-first-government-then parliament' explanation may apply to some pressure groups, it can scarcely account for why

categories of pressure groups with relatively open channels of access to government feel the need to establish contacts at the parliamentary level.

This brings us to the possibility that pressure groups do in fact have a basis for believing that developing channels of access with parliament does have an impact on policy. What is the basis of this belief? Before answering this question it is first useful to put the proposition that no matter how powerless the parliament may appear, policies formulated and introduced by the government are ultimately constrained by the need to secure parliament's consent. Parliament may not replicate the ideals set out under the Westminster and separation of powers principles mentioned earlier. It

nonetheless has the fundamental role in legitimising the whole policy process. As Hanson puts it, 'parliament remains the one institution whose demise would involve the virtual disappearance of everything characteristically democratic about our way of life' (1964, p.295). As such,

cabinet dominance or party discipline may well prevail over parliamentary proceedings, but policy-making rarely takes place without anticipating the reactions of parliament, and especially the reactions of backbench members of the governing party. It is in the nature of this anticipation that the role

of parliament is perhaps better understood in terms of what is sometimes referred to as the second and third 'faces of power', where the power of parliament is often un-revealed or unconsciously exerted over policy formation by its ability to set the outer limits of acceptable legislation. To

72

Pressure Groups and Parliament

the extent that this occurs, it is difficult to say, but parliament, to the very

least, it can be said to limit the insularity and independence of policy formation undertaken by government and government departments. It accordingly acts as a mechanism through which a far wider range of public concerns are provided access to legislative processes through approaches to members of parliament. For pressure groups, parliament can thus be a useful forum for setting the general climate for their legislative aspirations, even where the direct line of influence may not be immediate or readily apparent.

How much pressure groups recognise this aspect of parliamentary power in the broad scheme of things is difficult to determine. It is probably more sensed than rationalised in the terms just stated. It seems no less apparent that they hold the development of contacts with members of parliament as necessary to any stratagem. What informs this impression, it could be argued, is a general appreciation that parliamentarians are far more than just elected officials representing the interests of individual constituents or

electorates. Politicians may have prescribed voting rights over the passage of legislation. But they also engage in a range of parliamentary activities that can have a bearing on the fate of government legislation in ways that are not always discernible in the formal voting outcomes of parliament.

Parliamentarians as Members of Parliamentary Party Meetings

The role of parliamentarians as members of political parties is a case in point. Within the parliament it is clear that parties dominate not only

voting, but most other aspects of parliamentary behaviour. It is equally clear that the principle function of members in parliamentary proceedings.

is to confer legitimacy on policy decisions taken elsewhere (see: Evans, 1993, pp.17-20; Lucy, 1985, chapter two). Whilst it is true that party-dominated government severely limits the capacity of individual members to act outside determinations made by the party, it is also the case that they have ample scope to voice their concerns inside party meetings. Such meetings can be general, involving all parliamentary members of a party, or they can be constituted in the form of subject groups that mirror various areas of government policy — trade, industry, finance, foreign affairs, and so

73

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

on. These groups offer parliamentarians a chance to come together and

discuss issues, as well as to listen to recognised experts and meet with relevant ministers (or shadows minister in the case of opposition parties) to question them about their views on existing policies or intended legislation.

The important aspect of these forums is that their proceedings are usually informal, and because they are conducted behind closed doors, a free expression of views is more probable and the influence of individual parliamentarians or a group of parliamentarians over the direction of party

programmes is more likely. For opposition parties, internal deliberations and their impact on government policy is rarely direct, or even apparent. If a proposal put forward by the opposition attracts favourable community support, then its legislative influence can be considerable. In such cases, it is not unusual for a government to adopt the proposal as its own, or to introduce some variation of it, as a means of hiving off any electoral or political advantage that may be derived from its advocacy or endorsement.

In interviews conducted with parliamentary members of the Australian Democrats and the Liberal Party, it was suggested that good examples of this exist in the high profile given to environmental issues on the government's policy agenda, as well as the general acceptance of enterprise

bargaining in the government policy approach to industrial relations. It was stated that both developments were the direct result of contributions made by members, both individually and collectively, at parliamentary party meetings, which were seen as important to the development of detailed party policy initiatives that eventually attracted enough popular appeal to

force the government to take legislative action. To be sure these optimistic assessments need to be weighed against wider social and economic events that undoubtedly contributed to the government's deliberations on these issues. Environmental degradation and the structure of wage bargaining processes, for instance, have clearly been matters of contemporary political

concern among most western governments since the early 1980s, suggesting that the policy response in Australia may have merely been in keeping with world trends rather than a product of pressure applied by opposition parties. What might be argued with some justification is that opposition

parties took a sufficient lead to force, or at least facilitate, the pace of legislative change in each of these areas. To the extent that this is the case,

74

Pressure Groups and Parliament

it offers some evidence of how opposition members acting through

parliamentary party meetings can at times be influential over the pattern of government policy.

For obvious reasons the policy influence of backbench parliamentary members of the party holding office is likely to be much higher and more direct. As a general rule, this influence depends on how the views of members accord with, or differ to, those held by opposition members. It also depends on the size of the parliamentary majority enjoyed by the government, as well as the perception of the party's future electoral fortunes. The combination of a large majority, uncertain electoral prospects and a difference of opinion between members of the ruling party and opposition members, will usually confer on government leaders in party meetings the power to control the outcome of proceedings. One reason for this is that backbench parliamentarians find it difficult to muster the numbers necessary to challenge government ministers over their policy decisions. They are also unable to count on a confluence of interest between themselves and opposition members to give substance to any challenge, and are unlikely to act en masse if the challenge threatens the party's mandate to govern. In short, the enthusiasm for backbench opposition towards positions taken by government leaders in party meetings is dampened, and

with it, the capacity of the parliamentarians concerned to influence the outcome of government policies. The opposite tendency is more likely to be prevalent when a converse set of conditions apply, or some variation therein.

Having said this, the propensity for high levels of internal discipline within Australian political parties largely inhibits the occurrence of any extreme

manifestation of the two tendencies implied by this general rule, and especially so in the case of the Australian Labor Party (Evans, 1993, p.17).

The dynamics involved nevertheless apply, if only in a limited sense. From

interviews with Labor parliamentarians, it seems that conditions in recent years have not been overly conducive to backbench challenges to government initiatives. Parliamentary majorities have been reasonably

high, electoral opinion of the government's performance has generally remained ambiguous, differences between the policy approaches of major parties have persisted and so internal party discipline has remained solid.

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Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Even so, party discipline has not been so solid as to preclude the occasional

alteration or abandonment of government initiatives as a consequence of backbench dissatisfaction. Two examples offered in the interviews with Labor backbenchers referred to the proposed 1998 tax cuts, originally set out in the 1994 Budget, and the 1993-4 Industrial Relations Law pertaining to flexibility agreements. The government's position on each of these issues initially appeared to be irrevocable to those concerned. Both initiatives were nonetheless overturned or varied after the concerted efforts of backbench parliamentarians in the party caucus. The second of these examples, it was suggested by one parliamentarian, is more typical of how the potential for backbench influence is realised, the main reason being that the influence exerted occurred at the formative stage of the policy process. The former example is replicated more rarely, it seems, as the exertion of influence in this instance amounted to a clear challenge to

government policy that was already settled. Notwithstanding, the fact remains that parliamentarians, in this case members of the party holding government, have some capacity to influence policy decisions taken by

government.

Parliamentarians as Members of Parliamentary Committees

The role of members on parliamentary committees is another important channel of backbench influence. Although parliamentarians may often complain that the powers of parliamentary committees are far from ideal, or that the bulk of their recommendations are not granted the recognition they deserve by government, few doubt that they are critically important to the work of parliament. Such committees aid the work of the parliament by

delegating responsibility for certain tasks to small groups of parliamentarians. Positions and numbers on parliamentary committees vary, but delegations usually reflect the balance of party representation in

the house under which they are constituted. Either house may establish a committee, or constitute one jointly, if some issue or legislative proposal is deemed worthy of detailed examination. Most committees are organised according to their purpose or method of operation. Select committees are

created to inquire into and report upon a particular matter. Standing

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Pressure Groups and Parliament

committees are permanently constituted over the life a parliament to

provide continuing surveillance of designated areas of government activity.

Domestic committees deal with matters relating to the internal operations of the parliament. Legislative, expenditure and general purpose committees scrutinise the activities and expenditures of government departments, as well as proposed government legislation. Like party committees, parliamentary committees enable parliamentarians to gain expertise in

specific areas of public policy. They similarly provide parliamentarians with a means of gathering information from recognised experts and pressure groups, and to question government ministers and department officials (Senate Brief, November 1994; House of Representatives Brief, November

1994).

Parliamentary committees may advise and recommend only. Committee reports are tabled in the house under which they are constituted, and the government is obliged to reply to the points they raise. The influence of parliamentary committees is varied, but Senate committees are less subject to the constraints of party discipline, have more latitude to set their own

agenda and terms of reference, and are thus considered to be more powerful than committees of the House of Representatives (Summers, 1990, pp.17-8, 21; Lucy, 1986, pp.213-6; Evans, 1993, p.17). More generally, the influence of committees is dependent upon the type of information they can solicit from ministers, department officials and other sources. If the information results in recommendations that are both detailed and relevant, then their policy influence is likely to be higher than when the information results in recommendations. that are obscure or extraneous. Much also depends on the topicality of an issue, whether the matter under consideration is a new initiative or relates to some existing policy, and on the degree of bi-partisanship that exists between committee members. A committee will

usually be at its most influential when deliberating on a piece of legislation that attracts a lot, of media attention, when deliberating on some minor adjustment to existing policy, and when recommendations are agreed

unanimously by committee members. It is rare, however, for these attributes to co-exist within a single committee. Media coverage is usually directed towards those committees dealing with new policy initiatives (Canberra Times, interview, June 1995), which, because of their very

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Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

newness, are usually contentious to the point of polarising committee

members and recommendations along party lines. In any event, most parliamentary committees tend to deal with issues arising out of existing policy. Bi-partisanship is thus not infrequent, which, although rarely attracting significant media attention, generally confers on the committees concerned some potential to exert influence over the outcomes of

government policy. Although far from excessive, parliamentary committees do in fact see this potential realised and occasionally find their recommendations carried against the wishes of government, and on other

occasions find them accepted.

It is difficult to determine precisely the number of committee recommendations that either directly or indirectly result in amendments to

legislation or the introduction of new measures. The major problem in this regard is that a government may adopt a legislative proposal that replicates the recommendations contained in a committee report, in which case a direct link can be made, but it can also adopt a proposal that bears only a resemblance to the recommendations, in which case the link to made is more tenuous. This problem is made worse if a government adopts a

proposal some time after the tabling of a committee report. As a consequence, there is no systematic monitoring of legislation by the secretariats of parliamentary committees in either house. In a brief survey undertaken by the Office of the Clerk of Committees in the Senate, for the purpose of the present study, the response given in letters addressing this issue generally support the view the committees wield some influence over

government policy deliberations. One response provided by the Committee of Environment, Recreation, Communications and the Arts, is not untypical of some of the examples provided:

Twenty-three of the 42 recommendations of the December 1993 report, 'Water Resources — Toxic Algae', were directed at amending or improving the National Water Quality Management Strategy. Twenty-six out of the report's 42 recommendations were supported without reservations. None of the report's recommendations were opposed. Four were supported 'in principle';

six would be considered in the context of action to be taken on the 1994 Council of Australian Governments' report on Water Resource Policy. With

regard to the other six recommendations, the Government pointed out the

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Pressure Groups and Parliament

action that was being taken in the relevant areas (King, September 1995, mimeo).

Parliamentarians as Representatives of Constituents and Electorates

The role of parliamentarians acting in the interests of constituents and electorates is a final avenue of backbench influence. Members of parliament, above all else, are acutely aware of the need to focus on issues of direct relevance to the people they represent. Government policy that adversely affects their electorate, or even a small number of constituents, will usually galvanise members to take some form of action. Depending on the issue, a member will either seek a personal audience with the relevant minister or write to a government department. Alternatively, it may simply involve the member writing to constituents elaborating or clarifying the government's position on the issue in question. Government ministers usually take more notice of approaches made by members of parliament than individual citizens, partly because they are the legitimate representatives of constituents, and partly because it is simply not possible for ministers to address each matter brought to their attention by individual citizens. Letters and petitions submitted by parliamentarians, as well as personal representations, are thus treated with more priority than those received from outsiders.

Having said this, members of the party in government have clear advantages over their opposition counterparts. Depending on the issue, such members usually find they have relatively untrammelled access when taking up constituency matters with government ministers. This stems not only from the obvious fact of shared party membership, but also from the acute awareness among ministers of the need to act on constituency matters that could culminate to threaten the party's mandate to govern at some future election. By comparison, access to ministers and favourable responses to constituency grievances brought to the attention of ministers by opposition members is less certain. This is not to say ministers are prone to ignore the concerns of opposition members, or that approaches from this quarter are invariably unsuccessful. Only that different allegiances and

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Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

electoral considerations tend to come into play which can produce

ambiguous outcomes. As one opposition member put it, 'ministers are usually willing to act on electoral issues we raise, where possible, though ideological differences can frustrate agreement over how a problem might

be satisfactorily resolved'. The same member went on to note that constituency matters referred to ministers by opposition members in marginal seats tended to receive less attention than those referred by members in safe seats, the reason proffered suggesting that 'the

government is usually less interested in contributing to the success of a member in a seat that may become crucial to its future electoral fortunes'.

Notwithstanding, the fact remains that parliamentarians acting in the interests of electorates and individual constituents provide a legitimate reason for claiming the right to approach ministers over their policy

decisions. Other avenues of a more informal or interpersonal nature are also worth noting. Members of parliamentary committees often lunch with colleagues or travel together to different destinations during the course of their committee work. The context of these contacts frequently provides members with the opportunity to discuss informally issues their committees are considering, as well as to plan collective strategies to improve the

prospects of their recommendations being accepted. Members of party factions similarly meet to discuss issues and plan tactics to promote them onto their party's policy agenda. Informal cross-party meetings between members representing electorates which share common attributes are also not uncommon. This usually occurs amongst members representing

electorates that rely heavily on a single industry, and particularly so when some government measure appears likely to threaten that industry. Other informal networks of communication exist in the common practice of heads of parliamentary committees, subject groups and party factions broaching issues directly with a relevant government minister. Internal party trade-offs during factional debates are also not unknown, and networks of influence often exist between members and ministers (or shadow ministers

as the case may be) as a result of their common association with a city, state of party faction.

As a source of policy influence, the significance of informal networks of communication is difficult substantiate, let alone quantify. If the view is

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Pressure Groups and Parliament

taken that subtle forms of influence can be as persuasive in the art of

politics as the exercise of naked power, then such networks should not be underestimated. What can be said is that parliamentarians from all sides of politics believe the amalgam of personal contacts they hold inside the parliament 'to be an important avenue through which [they] contribute to the character and conduct of policy'. The extent of this contribution, to be sure, is ultimately dependent upon the policy issue in question, but seems highest when the ramifications of a policy have a unique impact on an electorate, or limited number of electorates. Members closest to a problem area in policy can often be at their most compelling when it threatens their personal political survival. This was amply demonstrated by members from

East Gippsland and south-eastern New South Wales during the 1995 Woodchip dispute, where party allegiances were jettisoned by personal convictions based on local knowledge, which in the end carried the day in policy terms.

Pressure Groups and Parliament

Clearly there are a range avenues through which members can influence government policy in ways that extend beyond their formal voting rights in parliament. Issues of party solidarity may pervade the exercise of these rights and remain decisive in determining the ultimate fate of such policy.

But it is no less the case that forums and networks exist that confer on members a measure of independence and ability to influence the deliberations of government. Before addressing the role of pressure groups in the dynamics involved, it is important to recognise that these forums and

networks have no constitutional status and few formal prerogatives over policy decision-making. Any influence exercised through their agency consequently rests substantially, if not solely, on the power of reasoned

argument. To the extent that it does, the tenor and content of such argument is highly dependent upon the level of knowledge that parliamentarians can bring to bear on issues under consideration. Members that have a detailed understanding of such issues will usually have

advantages over those who do not, whether they are party colleagues, opposition members or government ministers.

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Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Technical support, research papers and briefing notes provided by pressure

groups are obvious sources of knowledge upon which parliamentarians can draw when engaging in political debate. So also is information derived during informal discussions with pressure group representatives. There are nonetheless difficulties in determining precisely what aspects of the knowledge or information so derived are ultimately decisive in persuading individual members to adopt particular positions. It is still more difficult to

substantiate direct lines of causation from pressure group advocacy to the final settlement of public policy. What can be said is that pressure groups have relatively easy access to members of parliament, and that forums and networks exist which enable members of parliament to exert some degree of influence over the conduct of government policy. In terms of the hypothesis

set out in the final section of chapter two, such access automatically implies the exertion of pressure group influence at the level of parliament, and, by extension, over the pattern and direction of public policy itself. Whilst this

follows in a normative sense, and is supported by the evidence of members having some degree of influence over the conduct of government policy, it needs to be recognised that the type of access granted to pressure groups at parliamentary level is generally ad hoc or informal. Indeed, most contacts at this level are removed from the type of institutionalised contacts that commonly denote corporatist relationships. This partly reflects the dominance of cabinet over the passage of legislation through parliament, and partly the relatively low internal authority of most pressure groups noted in the last chapter. Such conditions leave parliamentarians and pressure groups representatives with little capacity to deliver any firm commitments or offer any certain rewards. Not surprisingly, the type of exchange relationships commonly associated with corporatist forms of policy formation are absent. It is in this context that knowledge, its passing

and acquisition, becomes the most important factor facilitating the relations that come to exist between pressure groups and parliament. Accordingly, one possible guide for determining the influence of pressure groups at the parliamentary level could be said to exist in how useful pressure groups

consider the exchanges of information and knowledge are at this level.

Turning, first, to party committees, the figures set out in table 4.1 indicate that 59 per cent of survey participants (n=96/162) are active in putting

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their case before this type of forum when given the opportunity. Of these,

85 per cent (n=82/96) said their discussions with party committees had been either 'useful' or 'very useful' in getting their message across. Only 4 per cent (n=4/96) believed they were of 'no use at all' (see table 4.6).

Interestingly, 65 per cent (n=62/96) of those engaging in this form of activity said that the contacts had occurred after an invitation had been extended by the party committees themselves (Pressure Group Survey, question 39). Given this high level of satisfaction and, in particular, the fact that a large majority of contacts occurred on an invitation basis, it seems hardly likely that the opinions offered by pressure groups in these forums are ignored. Interviews conducted with several backbenchers with some experience of serving on party committees (or more specifically, on subject-based party committees) confirm this view. Most believed that meeting pressure groups in these forums was an ideal way of keeping abreast of events. Not only were the meetings considered useful in gaining specific information or evidence about the administration of existing policies, they were also held to enable members to question pressure group representatives directly about the details of any changes being advocated. It was further suggested that because party committees were often conducted

informally and held behind closed doors, the setting was ideal for generating frank exchanges. Some illuminating observations of the attributes and approaches used by pressure groups which tended to attract

the most success are worth noting. One member, for example, suggested that pressure groups were at their most convincing when the information provided was detailed and credible, and tried to account for concerns held by interests opposed to their position. Another member intimated that pressure groups seeking to dictate party policy, or who threatened electoral action if their recommendations were not accepted, usually found their efforts wasted. Still another held that access and influence depended largely on the perceived legitimacy of the pressure group concerned, which was equated with its level of coverage of a specific social interest.

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Table 4.6 Rating Contacts with Parliament

If your organisation has presented evidence to parliamentary committees, what impact do you believe it had upon their reports? Significant Some Minimal None Varies Don't Know (nl)

% (n) % (n) % (n) % (n) % (n) % (n)

16.3 (20) 39.8 (49) 10.6 (13) 3.2 (4) 5.7 (7) 24.4 (30) (123)

How would you rate your contacts with party committees, Members of the House of Representatives and Senators? Very Useful Not Very Of No Varies (n1)

Useful Useful Use

% (n) % (n) % (n) % (n) % (n)

Party Committees 15.6 (15) 63.6 (61) 16.7 (16) 4.1 (4) 0.0 (0) (96)

MHRs 28.2 (48) 51.8 (88) 6.5 (11) 2.9 (5) 10.6 (18) (170)

Senators 28.0 (47) 47.6 (80) 8.9 (15) 5.4 (9) 10.1 (17) (168)

n=number of groups; nl number of groups providing valid response to survey questions.

Source: Pressure Group Survey, questions 23, 31, 36, 40.

These observations suggest that representative groups putting forward pro-active, balanced and well-researched arguments carry more weight in party meetings than unrepresentative organisations that choose to employ reactive, partisan or threatening tactics. Amongst the members of Parliament interviewed it seems the latter are rarely encountered, implying that a form of pseudo-screening process has operated over time to weed out organisations that use unsophisticated methods of lobbying. To the extent that this is the case, it is not such a leap of faith to conclude that those pressure groups that ultimately gain access to party committees are

invariably in a favourable position to exert influence over their deliberations.

The same can also be said of parliamentary committees. Referring once again to the figures set out in table 4.1, it is clear that pressure groups are particularly attentive to this type of forum. One reason for this interest is that, unlike party committees, access to parliamentary committees is rarely

on the basis of private invitation. Instead, depending on the issue under consideration, it is common for parliamentary committees to advertise publicly for outside contributions to their inquiries. Such calls provide pressure groups with an opportunity to submit evidence as means of getting their message on the public record. The committees also help pressure

groups identify members that have a direct interest in their area of concern,

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which is useful in focusing their mailing and lobbying efforts.. It is

recognition of these benefits, and no less the fact that such committees can at times have bearing on government policy outcomes, that accounts for why a large majority of pressure groups involved in the survey (75%, n=123/165) see them as sufficiently important to have dealings with. More importantly, as the figures set out in table 4.6 indicate, 58 per cent

(n=71/123) of these organisations believed their evidence had 'some' or a 'significant' impact on the conclusions and recommendations reached by the committees they approached. As few as 3 per cent (n=4/123) believed their appearances before parliamentary committees had 'no impact'. Some allowance must be made for the probability that these responses reflect a certain amount of 'selling'. But overall, it seems difficult to believe that pressure groups could hold such a favourable impression of parliamentary

committees, or bother engaging them to the extent they do, if they believed their efforts were wasted.

This conclusion seems confirmed by the members of parliament interviewed, who were in little doubt that the input of pressure groups was critical to the work of parliamentary committees. As one put it, 'pressure groups often have information that is different or challenges the

information provided by ministers and their department officials, and simply knowing we have access to this can often influence the type of proposals they are likely to consider'. Moreover, few members doubted that the evidence submitted by pressure groups invariably had a significant bearing on the final reports of parliamentary committees. One example provided referred to deliberations on the proposed draining of Lake Pedder.

During the proceedings of the parliamentary committee set up to look into this issue, the Tasmanian Hydro-Electric Commission, Comalco, and various environmental groups all provided submissions or oral evidence, from which much of the wording of the committee's final report was drawn.

A review of the content of pressure group submissions against the final reports of other parliamentary committees suggests this outcome is not uncommon. The extensive use of background information and recommendations provided by pressure groups consequently suggests a degree of dependence on the part of parliamentary committees, and almost

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surely has an impact on scrutiny of government activities by the

parliament.

Turning, finally, to relations with individual members, as earlier stated, it is extremely difficult to determine what impact pressure groups have on their views towards particular issues. The personal views of members are shaped by their own individual circumstances and histories. Their

understanding of issues can be reached through informal networks of communication during their everyday parliamentary and party activities.

And party and factional alliances can intervene to frustrate any concrete determination of what influence pressure groups wield over the opinions of individual members. In light of these problems, lobbying at the level of individual parliamentarians is clearly a highly uncertain endeavour. But it is particularly significant that pressure groups still consider efforts directed at this level to be worthwhile. Figures set out in table 4.6 show that 80 per cent (n=136/170) of pressure groups surveyed found contacts with members of the House of Representatives to be either 'useful' or 'very useful', whilst

76 per cent (n=127/168) held a similar view towards their contacts with Senators. Only a small handful of organisations felt their contacts with parliamentarians were 'no use at all' (House of Reps: 3%, n=5/170; Senate:

5%, n=9/168). Such a favourable impression, it could be argued, could not conceivably manifest so heavily on the side it does if pressure groups saw little or no benefit from engaging in this form of activity.

Support for this appraisal exists in the way parliamentarians themselves are highly receptive to approaches made by pressure groups. Indeed, from the interviews conducted with members, it is clear that most spend a lot of time talking to pressure groups. One reason for this is that individual members have limited resources, such that information provided by pressure groups in briefing notes and personal meetings is one means of off-setting this deficiency. A more important reason, however, stems from the fact that most parliamentarians feel an obligation to listen to organised social interests. While it is true that some discriminate in their choice of which pressure groups they are willing to receive, either for ideological reasons or simply to restrict contacts to groups operating in areas in which they have a specific interest, most do not. As pressure groups are founded and organised on the shared attitudes and aspirations of specific social

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interests, they invariably have premium information about the way

government policy impinges on those interests. For most members, a failure to tap such information when given the opportunity amounts to an abrogation of their sense of responsibility to keep abreast of public issues.

This belief makes them highly receptive to approaches made by pressure groups, as well as the arguments they present.

Having said this, it is important to stress that, for the most part, the criteria applicable to successful pressure group influence in party and parliamentary forums appear to apply equally to exchanges involving individual members. Thus, if the arguments presented in personal meetings

are badly prepared, poorly detailed, or blatantly self-interested, they will usually be ignored. The opposite is the case when the arguments presented are elaborate and balanced. Overall, information provided by pressure

groups in their dealings with individual members, in the view of all those interviewed, is generally regarded by parliamentarians as contributing to their existing knowledge and experience of public policy issues. A large

measure of the satisfaction experienced by pressure groups in their dealings with individual members almost surely rests on their recognition that the information they provide adds to the capacity of members to comment on

such issues.

Conclusion

Parliament is clearly an important channel of access for pressure groups operating at the national level. How important in terms of other governmental institutions is the subject of the next chapter. For the

moment, it needs only stating that the arguments pursued in this chapter should not be construed as asserting parliament to be the most important channel of access. That said, what importance the parliament does hold for pressure groups could be said to rest on a number of factors. The first relates to parliament's contribution to the development and conduct of

government policy. This contribution may not by readily apparent in the rights exercised by members during formal parliamentary proceedings. But the exercise of these rights is only one of many functions carried out by parliamentarians in their capacity as elected officials, and one greatly

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Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

limited by the imposition of high levels of party discipline. For this reason

alone, parliament is perhaps better understood as more than one stage in a linear process of policy making, where legislation determined elsewhere simply passes into law on the formal assent of popularly elected party functionaries who slavishly vote along pre-determined -party lines.

Parliament, instead, is a multi-dimensional source of policy influence, where sub-committees of inquiring are organised, political parties meet, and networks of communication between elected officials exist, all of which provide a rich variety of inputs at various stages across the policy-making

spectrum.

Whether the result of internal party machinations, or the consequence of recommendations put forward by parliamentary committees, or even the outcome of informal representations made to ministers by members, governments do in fact often concede ground on the detail of a policy, even if resisting alterations in its central thrust. It is this ever-present possibility

that provides sustenance and meaning to the political existence of parliamentary members, and is an integral part of the relationship between parliament and government. The findings of this chapter suggest that pressure groups act on an understanding of this relationship in the full knowledge that parliamentary committees, party committees and personal contacts have little or no status in legislative processes within the parliament. They are nonetheless aware that these forums are an important part of the wider policy community that feed information to the

government during its deliberations on policy. For most, access to parliament is a means by which they can air their views in an authoritative forum, educate political opinion about the interests and concerns they hold,

and inform government officials about the performance of policies. It also enables them to know what policy developments are in the pipe-line, what views are held by policy-makers towards particular issues, what stage a

legislative programme is at, and what demands are being put forward by other pressure groups. Adequate knowledge in each of these areas equips pressure groups with advanced warning of the likely form that various policy proposals or legislative actions will take, and improves their chances

of persuading the government to take account of their claims.

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The second factor underpinning the importance of parliament for pressure

groups relates to the possibility that lobbying other branches of government is never a certain means of realising organisational objectives. Economic and occupational groups, which are notable for their open access to ministers relative to other categories of group, are at the same time among the most prolific organisations to have contacts with parliament. It is reasonable to assume that the opposite would be the case if such groups felt they could achieve their objectives through approaches made to government

alone. Because this is not the case, it is a clear indication that there is enough uncertainty in pressure politics conducted at the national level to compel outside organisations to operate over a broad front as a matter of course. Lobbying parliament, its members and forums, all add to lobbying efforts directed at other levels of government. Pressure groups use

parliament as part of general strategies to influence policy outcomes, aware that party solidarity and cabinet dominance give government far more power over the fate of policy than parliament, but equally aware that

politics is not only about the exercise of power replicated in the formal divisions of parliament, but also of subtle forms of influence, both direct and indirect.

Two final points to be made link back to the arguments raised in the last chapter. All categories of group, it will be recalled, derive some degree of external political legitimacy from the wider economic, social and political environment in which they operate. The evidence presented in this chapter reflects this in the fact that all categories of group have broadly similar access to parliamentarians and parliamentary forums. What difference can be discerned is that business, labour and agricultural groups have slightly

more access to parliament than professional, special situation, public interest and cause groups. It is a relatively small difference that can be explained more in terms of the varied perceptions held by different categories of group towards the efficacy of their parliamentary contacts, rather than in terms of any apparent bias held towards particular categories of group by individual parliamentarians. In any case, all categories of group could be said to have sufficient external political legitimacy, and on the basis of this, all could be said to have broadly similar access to parliament. The second point refers to the contention that few

E:3'7

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

pressure groups have the ability to link the activities of members to

centrally determined strategies, commit members to obligations given to government officials, conduct coordinated resistance against policy measures deemed to be against their members' interests, or undertake substantive commitments in negotiated trade-offs with government officials over public policy. In the context of these organisational disadvantages, and

as much of the above evidence provided by parliamentarians suggests, it is the quality and relevance of information held by pressure groups about the social communities they represent that is the foundation upon which their

relations with parliament is principally built.

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CHAPTER FIVE

Pressure Groups and Other Channels of Access

Although pressure groups are attentive towards developing contacts with parliament, the importance of these contacts should not be overstated.

Government ministers and their departments still dominate , most policy-making, and so they remain the principle targets of pressure group lobbying. As the relationships between pressure groups and parliament constitutes only one channel of access, albeit a multi-faceted one, no meaningful conclusions can by reached about these relationships without some reference to other channels of access. From the findings set out in chapter three, it is clear that parliamentarians and parliamentary forums

are a source of policy influence, and that this in many ways accounts for the pressure group activity directed at this level. It is nonetheless the case that this activity is limited, and to a large degree determined, by the extent of political activity directed elsewhere. Choices have to be made by pressure

groups as to where time and resources devoted to political activity are best directed, such that a better understanding of their relations with parliament could be said to exist in assessing the importance they place on different channels of access. The rank importance so revealed can then be used to explain the choices made by pressure group leaders when seeking to develop contacts with the parliament.

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Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Hence the purpose of the this chapter, which draws on survey data to rate

the significance of parliament to pressure groups, both generally and in terms of different categories of group. In so doing, the analysis, to some extent, steps away from the theoretical framework set out in chapter one. It does this by broadening the scope of inquiry to include channels of access

other than the formal institutions of government. It also does so by drawing inferences from the perceptions held by pressure groups. This has its obvious problems. First, the perceptions held by pressure groups need not necessarily equate with reality, and second, the claims they make about the

importance of channels of access is likely to be, conditioned by a degree of self-justification. One way of overcoming these problems is to look at channels of access simply as sources of influence, ranking their relative

importance to pressure groups. Differences between each source of influence can then be used to reach some conclusions about the place of pressure

group-parliament relations within the context of pressure group relations with other channels of access. The chapter opens with some comment about the figures set out in table 5.1. It then looks at different sources of influence in accordance with the ranking of this table, noting why these ranking's exist and accounting for variations between different categories of group.

The final section offers some concluding remarks about the findings.

About the Figures

It needs to be stated, at the outset that the pressure group responses informing the following discussion generally misinterpreted the survey question. The figures set out in table 5.1 are derived from a survey question that asked respondents to rank the importance of different sources of influence used in their organisation's day-to-day efforts to influence policy.

Among the pressure groups that responded (n=171), the majority (n=94)

either ranked a few sources listed, or ranked two or more sources the same.

The number of•valid responses was therefore limited to 73 organisations.

One problem with this smaller sample is that agricultural groups have been excluded from the figures, as only one organisation in this category returned a valid response. The small number of valid responses from labour groups (n=5) is also a cause for concern. Figures for this category of group

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Pressure Groups and Other Channels of Access

category of group are included, but should be read with some caution.

Overall, it is worth noting that the figures derived from the responses given by 73 pressure groups bear a remarkable similarity to those derived from the answers provided by all respondents. That is to say, the figures calculated from valid responses that correctly listed sources of influence from 1 to 7, are almost identical to those responses which failed to answer the question in this manner (correlation r 2= 0.991). There is thus a strong statistical basis for suggesting that the figures obtained from the limited survey sample are a reasonable reflection of the views held by all respondents.

Table 5.1 Ranking Sources of Influence by First Preference and Inverse Weighted Averages

Based on your experience, place the following in order of importance in terms of your organisation's efforts to influence policy

First Preference (n 1=73)

(n) % ranking

Ministers 37 50.7 1

Public Departments 19 26.0 2

Media 5 6.9 3 (4)

Public Opinion 5 6.9 4 (3)

Parliament 4 5.5 5

Political Parties 2 P.7 6

One Party 1 1.4 7

Inverse Weighted Averages

Business Labour Professional Spec. Sit. Cause All (n1=27) (nl=5) (n1=9) (n1=15) (n1=22) (n1=73) (1) rank (1) rank (1) rank (1) rank (1) rank (1) rankMinisters 0.75 1 0.83 1 0.76 1 0.48 1 0.32 1 0.49 1 Public Departments 0.50 2 0.41 2 0.52 2 0.34 2 0.29 3 0.36 2 Media 0.25 3 0.29 5 0.28 3 0.27 3 0.30 2 0.27 3 Parliament 0.19 5 0.35 4 0.20 5 0.25 4 0.23 6 0.23 4 Political Parties 0.22 4 0.18 7 0.17 6 0.23 6 0.24 5 0.22 5 Public Opinion 0.17 7 0.20 6 0.23 4 0.24 5 0.27 4 0.21 6 One Party 0.18 6 0.41 3 0.16 7 0.19 7 0.16 7 0.19 7(n1) = number of groups providing valid response to survey questionPressure Group Survey, question 4493

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

The second point to be made regards the use of inverse weighted averages.

Measures referring to first preferences are noted throughout the discussion and are listed at the top of table 5.1. For ranking purposes, however, the principle measure used is based on inverse weighted averages. This type of measure gives a more realistic approximation of the survey results, as it

captures all the responses given for each category of influence. The results recorded are calculated by scoring each preference in the following way: xl for the first preference, x2 for the second preference, x3 for the third preference, and so on, with the inverse of the lowest total in a category of influence ranking first, and the inverse of the highest total in a category or influence ranking seventh. The inversion is simply to limit the domain of the findings. The figures cited are to three decimal places to tease out

differences between almost similar data. They should not be interpreted as depicting any precision, and simply denote relative rather than absolute differences between different sources of influence. The importance of ministers as a source of influence to labour groups, at a figure of 0.83,

should therefore not be regarded as almost twice that of public departments, which records a figure of 0.41. The most that can be said is that some figures are sufficiently dispersed to enable some rough judgements to be made about the relative importance different categories of

group place on particular sources of influence. Hence, at 0.75, it can be

reasonably asserted that business groups place more importance on their contacts with ministers relative to other sources of influence, when compared with cause groups, which, at 0.32, tend to rate such contacts as

less important in relation to other sources.

Government Ministers

So stated, it is clear from the figures set out in table 5.1 that pressure groups hold ministers to be the major source of influence in efforts to have their claims recognised in the outcomes of government policies. Indeed, over half the pressure groups surveyed (51%, n=37/73) ranked ministers above

all other sources of influence. The results based on inverse weighted averages similarly rank ministers first, both generally, and in each category

of group.

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Pressure Groups and Other Channels of Access

These findings are hardly surprising. Ministers make the most important

decisions that effect the community. Operating through cabinet, they determine what policies are to be adopted and what legislative programmes are needed to put them into effect. They have sole responsibility for the timing of legislation introduced into the parliament and the order in which it is discussed. And they have special prerogatives over the formation and introduction of financial legislation. Moreover, the existence of high levels of party discipline within the parliament substantially enforces the power of ministers over policy-making processes and legislative procedures (Weller,

1991, chapter two; Matthews, 1972, p.487). It is this dominance that accounts for why ministers rank the highest amongst all categories of group as a source of influence.

Looking more closely at the ranking's, it is nevertheless clear that, relative to other source of influence, business, labour and professional groups place more importance on ministers than other categories of group. The reasons for this hark back to issues raised in chapter two, where it was noted how the political _culture of Australia and the economic imperatives of public policy combine to give groups in these categories an inside track to

government. The close links between the trade union movement and the ruling Labor Party are also apparent in the figures, with labour groups placing a particularly high level of importance on ministers relative to other sources of influence.

Table 5.2 Contacts with Ministers

How has your organisation expressed its concern over legislation in which it has an interest: (f) By directly contacting the responsible minister. (n1=169) Yes (n1) o ho (n)

Business 82.5 (52) (63)

Labour 90.0 (9) (10)

Agriculture 81.8 (9) (11)

Professional 75.0 (12) (16)

Special Situation 72.4 (21) (29)

Cause 50.0 (20) (40)

n=number of groups; nl=number of groups providing valid response to survey question.

Pressure Group Survey, question 45f

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Differences in the relative importance placed on ministers can also be

explained by differences in the access enjoyed by different categories of group. table 5.2 sheds some light on this access. Referring to how pressure groups express their concern over legislation, the figures support the

conventional wisdom that pressure groups founded on economic and occupational criteria tend to have better access to ministers than pressure groups organised on other criteria. The notable exception to this is special situation groups, which appear to have an almost similar level of access to

ministers as economic and occupational groups. One possible explanation for could be said to relate to the way many special situation groups are integrally involved in the provision of services to the disabled or disadvantaged. Many of their leaders are also represented on the boards of government agencies set up to administer these services. The importance of such services thus heightens the prospects of leaders of this category of group being received by the ministers responsible. Another reason could be said to relate to the generally high level of government funding provided to groups in this category. On the basis of the survey findings, an average of 40 per cent of the annual operating revenue of special situation groups is derived from either government subsidies or grants. This contrasts with cause groups, which average 17 per cent, and markedly so in the case of economic and occupational groups, which derive less than 5 per cent of their

annual operating income from this source (see chapter three, tables 3.1 to 3.5). It seems unlikely that the magnitude of this funding would not place a special onus on relevant ministers to monitor its usage. To the extent that it does, it no doubt plays a major role in encouraging ministers to receive the leaders of recipient organisations more readily.

Although the channels of access at the level of government may be skewed in favour of some groups, it is still the case that almost three-quarters of those surveyed (73%, n=123/169) stated that they were in a position to contact a relevant minister when they wished to discuss a problem. Given the time constraints on ministers, this suggests that most pressure groups

have relatively open channels of access to government. Such access may not always be assured, but it seems sufficient to assert that few pressure groups are denied an audience with a minister when their views are pertinent to a particular issue and they are considered to be the legitimate

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representatives specific interest communities. Nor is access at this level

simply the result of pressure groups pushing or goading ministers to receive them. Indeed, it seems clear that ministers themselves are often quite willing to hear what pressure groups have to say. One reason for this is that most groups have a considerable understanding of the interest communities they represent, as well as statistical and research information that is either more contemporary or different from the information supplied by public departments. Another reason is that most pressure groups are also uniquely placed to inform ministers about the way existing policies are affecting various interest communities, and so can advise ministers of the likely reaction of such communities to future laws and regulations.

Engaging pressure groups in dialogue can also facilitate the operation of policies. By enlisting the support of relevant pressure groups in this way, a government can often reduce the risk of groups engaging in activities designed to frustrate the application of policy. Finally, it is not uncommon for pressure groups to take on the obligation of propagating the merits of an

agreed policy measure to the interest communities it most affects. It is this dependence on the part of ministers and their general willingness to receive pressure group delegations, together with their dominant political authority over the formulation and conduct of public policy, that accounts for why pressure groups unambiguous hold government ministers to be the most important channel of access through which to influence public policy.

Public Departments

The next most important source of influence are public departments. As the figures set out in table 5.1 indicate, ranking's based on weighted averages rank public departments second, both generally and in each category of group, except cause groups. This ranking is consistent with figures based on first preferences, with 26 per cent (n=19/73) of respondents stating that public departments are their main source of policy influence. The relative

importance of public departments to pressure groups is not hard to fathom. Ministers may wield considerable authority over the direction and fate of public policies, but public departments are the principle drafters of

legislation and are responsible for pointing out the merits and pitfalls to

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ministers of different legislative approaches. They furthermore have research facilities and practical knowledge of the performance of existing policies, both of which are a vital source of information for ministers during their policy deliberations. Public departments, or more specifically, their leading officials, therefore wield considerable influence during the formative stages of policy development. They also wield similar influence over the administrative stages of policy. Policy changes are invariably accompanied by complex legislation or regulatory mechanisms to give them

effect. Usually these set down a range of general principles in law or administration, leaving it to the departments to deal with their day-to-day interpretation or application. This is necessary to allow the departments to administer a policy effectively when confronted with unpredictable or changing circumstances (Matthews, 1972, pp.488). It is the decision-making

discretion and the cabinet level influence of public service officials that accounts for why the vast majority of pressure groups rank public departments as their second most important source of influence. Crisp admirably sums the foundations of this interest in the following way:

The group spokesperson who wants to know and to influence what is afoot or even possible, what measures are being prepared and what they contain in detail, by what procedures and upon what principles and working rules they

will be applied and by whom, needs the very best status and relationship that can be achieve with relevant departments (1983, p.171).

The interest of pressure groups in public departments, however, is not all one way. Like ministers, public departments are similarly inclined to discuss policy and legislative initiatives with relevant pressure groups.

Often this is done to gain an approximation of opinions or likely reaction from organisations with a direct interest in a policy or legislative measure under consideration, but it also allows departments to field complaints in

an orderly and systematic manner. As Matthews puts it:

Members of pressure groups are often encouraged to take their complaints and grievances to their group. An official of the group has the task of examining, rejecting those considered to be not worthy of departmental consideration, classifying the complaints and sending the departments reports based on the information received and analysed. This saves the department

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from being inundated with showers of individual complaints, many of which

are likely to be ill-considered (1973, p.489).

In some cases, public departments even delegate the authority to administer certain aspects of policy to pressure groups. It is not uncommon, for instance, for professional groups to set codes of ethics and issue registration certificates which allow members to practice their profession.

The authority to issue such certificates is conferred on pressure by the public department charged with monitoring the activities of the profession in question. The effectiveness of such arrangement is then judged on the adherence of members to the code of ethics established by their

representative organisation. The nature of this relationship is reflected in the ranking's set out in table 5.1, where the relative importance placed on public departments by professional groups is closer to the importance attached to ministers than is the case amongst other categories of group.

Cause groups stand at the other end of the spectrum in ranking public departments third. This possibly reflects the fact that, by comparison to other categories of group, their organisational objectives are often less concerned with trying to influence the details of intended legislation or the day-to-day administration of existing policy. Instead, the objectives of these

organisations typically dwell on seeking fundamental changes in the pattern of policy, most of which fall well beyond the scope and mandate of public departments (Pressure Group Survey, derived from answers given to question 15). Cause groups apart, all categories of group could be said to

place a particularly high degree of importance on public departments.

Media

After ministers and public departments, the media is the next most important source of influence. The distinction between the media and the remaining sources of influence, however, is far from clear. Among those pressure groups providing valid responses, only 7 per cent (n=5/73) placed this source of influence first, which ranks it equal third overall on this

measure. This rating is consistent with the measure based on inverse weighted averages, both generally and most categories of group. One exception are labour groups, which rank the media fifth. This possibly

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

reflects the fact that media coverage of industrial relations issues is not

always impartial, with much reporting in this area inclined to portray trade unions as either unreasonable or obstructionist. As one trade union official put it: 'we can spend a lot of time trying to develop good relations with the media, only to see our best efforts amount to nothing when the next train or petrol strike crops up.' It is also not uncommon for trade union press conferences to be ill-attended or their press releases to go unreported

(Finance Sector Union, interview, April 1995). To this it could be added that the close relationship between the trade union movement and the ruling Labor Party possibly diminishes the overall importance of the media as a source of influence. The other exception are cause groups, which rank the media second. This may be a product of few groups in this category having head offices in Canberra (Pressure Group Survey, question 4). They also have the least resources of all categories of group (see chapter three, tables

3.1 to 3.5). Both these factors undoubtedly make it difficult for cause groups to develop and maintain contacts with government institutions based in Canberra, thus raising the importance of the media as a cheap and expedient channel of policy influence.

For all other categories of group, however, there is a consistency in the figures which suggest that contacts with the media has a particular significance in their political strategies. In trying to manage the media, the techniques commonly applied include the publication of newsletters, position papers and news releases. They also include running

advertisements, organising press conferences, and engaging in television and radio interviews. In their more extreme form they can involve acts of notoriety or novelty specifically designed to gain the maximum publicity for a particular cause. What ever method is employed, the principle intention is to reach the widest possible public. By raising issues to the forefront of the public consciousness, or at least sensitising the media to such issues, the expectation is that this will move electoral opinion and encourage ministers to defer or take some policy action. Some issues have a natural appeal to the media, such that groups that deal in these areas have special reasons to

resort to this source of influence. This is particularly so in the case of cause groups who frequently attract widespread media coverage when advocating radical reform on topical policy issues.

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The importance of the media, however, should not be exaggerated. The low

ranking of the media relative to the two source previously mentioned is still apparent, and reflects the fact that this avenue of influence is often an unreliable and indirect means of influencing government. Indeed, governments usually find it immensely difficult to concede ground under

this type of pressure without looking incompetent, and are just as likely to resist media driven demands to demonstrate their political resolve, regardless of the merits of the case being argued (Crisp, 1983, p.169).

Furthermore, whilst it is true that the media in general, and television in particular, are potent in drawing public attention to policies in which pressure groups have an interest, it is also the case that the media can be quite fickle about what issues it chooses to cover. Successful media campaigns in the absence of other lobbying activities are therefore rare,

such that resort to this source of influence by pressure groups is usually confined to proffering low-key periodic opinions about the pattern and conduct of existing policy.

One final point to made refers to the relative importance placed on the media by economic and occupational groups. Pressure groups organised on this criteria may have the inside track to see government ministers. They may even engage in media campaigns as part of their strategy to influence policy outcomes. But it is clear from the figures in Table 5.1 that they place less significance on the media as a source of influence in comparison to pressure groups organised on other criteria. Special situation and cause

groups, for instance, rate the importance of the media relatively closer to ministers and public departments than business, labour and professional groups; which tend to place less importance on these avenues of influence.

This is again in line with the conventional wisdom that suggests that pressure groups having more access to ministers and public departments have less need to rely (in this case the media) on other channels of access.

Parliament

As a source of influence, only 6 per cent (n=4/73) of respondents stated that parliament was their first preference, which ranks it fifth on this measure.

On the basis of inverse weighted averages its position improves to fourth,

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generally, though differences exist across each category of group. Business

and professional groups, for instance, rank parliament fifth; cause groups rank parliament sixth, and labour and special situation groups rank parliament fourth. The distinctions between groups organised on economic and occupational criteria, and those organised on other criteria, is therefore

ambiguous, though it is worth noting that there is little to separate

parliament's relative importance from the media, political parties and public opinion. It is also worth bearing in mind that despite parliament's

low importance relative to government ministers and public departments, as the evidence of chapter three indicated, pressure groups are nonetheless extremely active in trying to develop and maintain their contacts with its members and forums. There is no need to restate the reasons for this interest, except to say that in view of the obvious importance placed on ministers and public departments, such contacts can only be regarded as supplementing efforts directed at more important sources of influence.

An explanation for the notably low ranking placed on parliament by cause groups refers back to the earlier mentioned logistical problems confronting this category of group. Labour groups are another notable exception, in this instance, ranking parliament high in relation to ministers and public departments. The reason for this undoubtedly rests with the trade union movement's close association with the ruling Labor party. Links between labour groups and parliamentary members and members holding ministerial positions may be less distinguishable to this category of group as a consequence, with parliament holding more relative importance as a

source of influence than is the case among other categories of group.

Despite these discrepancies, the relative importance of parliament in terms of other sources of influence show very few sharp difference within each category of group. The most that can be said is that economic and occupational groups appear to place slightly less importance on parliament

relative to ministers and public departments in comparison to groups organised on other criteria. This again sits well with the conventional notion that pressure groups with less access to ministers and public departments tend to rely more heavily on parliament as a source of influence. Groups that have relatively open access to ministers and public departments, by contrast, tend to rely less on parliament as a source of

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influence. This is even the case when, on the evidence presented in the last

chapter, their contacts with parliament are more frequent than contacts held by groups with comparatively closed access to ministers and public departments.

Overall, no category of pressure group placed parliament above or even proportionately close to either ministers or public departments as a source of influence. With the exception of cause groups, nor did any category of

group list parliament lower than fifth. This again reinforces the contention made in the last chapter that parliament provides a subsidiary channel of access through which pressure groups operate as a means of buttressing efforts directed at other decision-making arenas.

Political Parties

Contacts with political parties are the fifth most important source of influence amongst the surveyed pressure groups. Only 3 per cent of survey respondents (n=2/73) placed this source of influence first, ranking it sixth overall on this measure. Its ranking improves to fifth on the basis of inverse weighted averages, though this again is not reflected across individual categories of groups. Professional and special situation groups, for instance, rank their contacts with political parties sixth. One possible reason for this is that groups in these categories tend to span the ideological spectrum.

Their membership, also, crosses occupational, educational, economic and geographic divides. Both these factors, it could be argued, make it difficult for pressure groups in these categories to be seen to align themselves too closely with any one political party.

This contrasts with business and labour groups, which draw their members

from a narrower range of social interests and who typically have a far more focused ideological outlook. Accordingly, they are inclined to take a more partisan view of pressure politics. There is nonetheless a sharp contrast between the two as to how they rank political parties as a source of influence. Business groups, for instance, rate political parties above the norm at fourth. This can be explained by the fact that business groups have long established contacts with the Liberal Party. At the same time,

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however, they must confront the practicalities of having to deal with a

Labor Party holding government. It is in this context that Labor

backbenchers attract a degree of importance and possibly accounts for why business groups rank the importance of political parties, higher than the norm (ACCI, interview, October 1995). Labour groups similarly take a partisan view of pressure politics, a product no doubt, of their close

association with the Labor Party. In this instance, however, the association is with a party holding government. The importance of contacts with a range of political parties for this category of group is thus negated, and

finds labour groups ranking this source of influence seventh.

Public Opinion

Public opinion is the next most important source of influence. Pressure groups often engage in campaigns that involve running advertisements, releasing press statement, giving interviews, delivering pamphlets, raising petitions, and organising pubic meetings, demonstrations, pickets and boycotts. Such campaigns can be national, but are more typically conducted

at a local level, targeting marginal seats with the aim of marshalling sufficient numbers to place electoral pressure on parties, candidates and sitting members. From the limited survey sample, only 7 per cent (n=5/73) of pressure groups listed public opinion as their first preference, which ranks it fourth overall on this measure. On the basis of inverse weighted averages, however, the ranking falls to sixth. Here again there are sharp differences between different categories of group in the relative importance they attach to public opinion as source of influence. Cause groups, for instance, rank public opinion fourth. This no doubt reflects the limited resources and personnel these organisations have for establishing and maintaining direct contacts with members, ministers and parties, as well as their heavy reliance on local publicity campaigns to advance their political claims.

Special situation and professional groups also rank this source of influence above the norm. The importance attached to public opinion relative to parliament, political parties and the media among these categories of group, however, is less distinct than in the case of cause groups. Business

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groups are another exception in ranking public opinion last. An explanation

for the low importance attached to public opinion by this category of group could be said to relate to the way much popular sentiment and media opinion is already favourable disposed to the activities of business. Groups representing business interests possibly perceive little political mileage to be gained by conducting publicity campaigns to achieve political objectives.

Single Political Parties

Contacts with single political parties rank an unambiguous last among the seven sources of influence listed. Indeed, only one organisation (1%, n=1/73) placed contacts with a single political party first. This is consistent with the

ranking derived from inverse weighted averages, both generally and in all categories of group except labour. It is also consistent with the findings of the last chapter, where it was noted that labour groups were the most parochial in confining their contacts to one political party (see Table 4.2).

This is hardly surprising—though a little short-sighted given the possibility of a future Liberal government—and again reflects the close relationship that exists between the trade union movement and the ruling Labor Party.

The remaining categories of group place less faith in contacting one political party only. Business groups, as previously mentioned, may be notionally aligned with the Liberal Party and contribute to its policy formation. They

nonetheless deal with members of the Labor Party. Professional, special situation and cause groups are similarly disposed, being, organisationally

constrained in confining their contacts to a single political party by a membership that cuts across occupational, educational, economic and geographic divides.

Conclusion

There are a number of channels of access that require certain choices be made by pressure groups as to where time and resources devoted to political activity are best directed. These choices are undoubtedly conditioned by the importance pressure groups attach to different sources of influence. The

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seven sources referred to above are not the only avenues of influence, but

are certainly the most consistently utilised by pressure groups operating at the national political level. The findings drawn from the survey responses can be broadly divided into primary and secondary sources of influence. The primary sources of influence, in their rank order of importance, are

government ministers and public departments. This is not surprising as these institutions take the most important decisions that effect the community, pressure groups well know this, and direct their efforts accordingly. At the same time, it is too simplistic to assume that formation

and administration of public policy is the sole product of consultation and agreement involving these institutions and pressure groups. Much policy is undoubtedly conducted on the back of these relationships alone, but it is apparent that pressure groups do not dismiss other channels of access as being irrelevant to their efforts to influence policy outcomes. The reason for this, it could be argued, is that policy networks at the level of government

and public departments are not so stable and predictable as to assure pressure groups that they will be able to achieve their objectives through contacts with ministers and public officials alone. Other source of influence have to be employed or relied upon as well. This is particularly so in the case of pressure groups that have relatively closed channels of access to

government and public departments (i.e., cause groups), but it is also true of pressure groups that have well-established contacts with ministers and public officials (i.e., labour groups).

It is in the context of this uncertainty, that secondary sources of influence become important. These include, in their rank order of perceived value to pressure groups, the media, parliament, political parties, public opinion and single political parties. With the possible exception of the last, however,

there is little to distinguish the worth pressure groups place on these sources of policy influence, and all are held to be of far lower importance than the primary sources just mentioned. If any distinction can be discerned, it is that special situation and cause groups tend to place above

average importance on the media, parliament, political parties and public opinion, relative to ministers and public departments, whereas business, labour and professional groups tend to place a greater importance on ministers and public departments. These differences sit well with the view

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that pressure groups which are less integrated into policy networks at the

level of government and public departments are likely to rely more on alternative sources of influence, with parliament and the parties of elected

members sitting therein playing a major part in the processes involved.

It should not be construed from this that secondary sources of influence are used only as a last resort option when efforts to influence government ministers and the public departments have failed. From comments attached to the survey responses informing the above discussion, as well the number of invalid responses that listed more than one source of influence the same, a more complex reality emerges which suggests that secondary sources of influence are used by pressure groups to buttress efforts directed at more importance political arenas. Pressure groups that have the most contact with ministers and public departments are also active in conducting media campaigns, raising public awareness, and developing contacts with parliament and political parties. These latter sources of influence may not rate highly as channels of access, but they are no less significant in the stratagems employed by pressure groups in their efforts to persuade the government to adopt the policies they advocate. Stratagems are typically multi-faceted, conditioned not so much by the linear progression of policy

through formal procedures or the concentration of political power in the hands of government, as by a widespread belief that exerting influence simultaneous at various points across the political system greatly improves the prospects of success. This undoubtedly gives pressure group lobbying at the parliamentary level the appearance of being random, and to a certain extent it this is true. But as there is no guarantee of success at the level of government and public departments, parliament provides an important intermediary through which pressure groups can educate policy makers about the interests and concerns of the social communities they represent.

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CHAPTER SIX

Conclusion

There can be little doubt that pressure groups are a major part of the Australian political landscape. Among the 185 surveyed in this study, two-thirds were founded since the close of the Second World War, with more than one-half having been established in the last thirty years. Several reasons account for this growth. The transfer of taxation and expenditure powers from the state level to the federal level, together with the emergence of highly disciplined political parties, have over the last four decades seen the gradual consolidation of political power in the hands of a national executive. The federal government has also taken on increasing responsibility for the provision of welfare and management of the economy.

These changes have seen a steady increase in the volume and scope of legislation considered at the national level, which has diminished the importance of local and state policy frameworks and provided a positive stimulus to the national organisation of social interests. To this it could be

added that on-going changes in Australian economic and social life have perpetuated the emergence of new interests and redefined old ones. In only the last decade, new groups have formed to represent people holding

alternative political and ideological beliefs towards industrial development.

New organisations have surfaced in accordance with the increasing ethnic

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and religious diversity represented among the populace. New business

groups have arisen out of concern for the level of taxation and government intervention. New farming groups have come into existence to confront the problems of drought, foreclosure and rural exodus. And new ecological groups have been founded to focus attention on environmental degradation

and the need to protect endangered species. Underpinning these developments a growing middle-class has seen the emergence of a better educated electorate that is more willing and more able to articulate their political interests through participation in pressure groups.

From the evidence of this study, it is clear that despite these developments the structure of interest representation at the national level has remained largely non-competitive. Most pressure groups are not compelled to compete with other organisations for members. The option of non-membership

amongst the potential membership, however, is high, such that there is no great imperative placed on members to accept or subject themselves to the centrally determined directives of the organisations to which they belong.

Instead, pressure groups typically have low levels of internal authority, a condition that is reinforced by the widespread affiliation of organisations rather than individual members, and the type of complex decisional processes that grant substantial representational rights to members in executive decision-making processes. Accordingly, few pressure groups have the ability to link the activities of members to centrally determined

strategies, commit members to obligations given to government officials, conduct coordinated resistance against policy measures deemed to be against the interests of members or undertake substantive commitments in

negotiated trade-offs over public policy with government officials. Indeed, the vast majority have little grounds for claiming government recognition of their demands on the grounds of organisational attributes alone.

It is for this reason that the legitimacy of political actions undertaken by pressure groups is essentially derived from non-organisational factors.

Economic and occupational groups have clear advantages over groups organised on other criteria. Not only do they have decisive power over wage, employment and investment conditions, which can have important implications for the conduct of national economic policy, popular and

political sentiments are largely favourable to their views and objectives.

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Conclusion

The advantages of pressure groups organised on other criteria are not so

clear cut, but there can be little doubt that the type of purposive objectives they typically propound is sufficient to legitimise their political activities in the eyes of the government office holders and the general populace.

To the extent that all categories of groups enjoy some measure of external political legitimacy, this is evident in the way all have broadly similar access to parliamentarians and parliamentary forums. For some groups,

simply getting their views on the public record is an end in itself, though for most the prospect of inducing some favourable change in government policy remains the ultimate attraction. Parliament is certainly not ignored by pressure groups. Its value rests on a range of interrelated factors, but three stand out for special consideration. The first is that parliament actually does contribute to the formation and conduct of government policies, and is not so party or cabinet dominated that its members and committees have little or no capacity to influence their outcome. Parliament may at times contribute directly to the development of policy in a formal procedural sense, but its principle contribution is more often confined to indirect interventions that involve minor adjustments in existing policy. It is in the context of these interventions that individual members have a measure of independence to influence policy and legislative outcomes through their work inside party committees and parliamentary inquiries, and via the networks of communication they hold with other members and ministers.

To this it could be added that parliament is the body to which the government is ultimately responsible, and while its role may be diminished by the existence of highly disciplined parties, this does not detract from its capacity to exert 'unrevealed' power over executive policy deliberations. It does this by defining the outer limits of acceptable policy. Individual members may be subject to the rigours of party discipline, but if an issue arises where adherence to this principle threatens their electoral survival, or if party or government resolutions concerning the issue conflict with their fundamental beliefs, they can be induced to acts of independence.

Governments are hardly oblivious to this ever-present possibility, no matter how remote. Their policy deliberations are accordingly conditioned, so to speak, not so much by the limited power wielded by parliament in formal

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political processes, as by the indirect influence of the weight of

parliamentary opinion as to what constitutes acceptable public policy.

Pressure groups may not acknowledge this in any cognitive sense. They are aware that government is drawn from parliament and operates through parliament. They also recognise that party solidarity and cabinet dominance bestow government with far more power over the fate of public

policy than parliament. But they are equally aware that the political opinion of parliament can be influential in the conduct and development of policy. Parliament is consequently important to pressure groups. Not only

does it, provide a means by which pressure groups can educate political opinion about the interests and concerns they hold, it also provides a ready channel of access through which they can air their views, raise issues onto the public agenda and inform government officials about the performance of existing policies. It furthermore enables them to know what policy and

legislative programmes are in the pipeline, what views policy makers may hold towards particular issues and what demands are being put forward by other pressure groups.

This is not to say that lobbying parliament is done to the abandonment of lobbying other arms of government — and this brings us to the second factor underpinning the importance of parliament to pressure groups. Pressure groups well know were true power lies and direct their efforts accordingly.

But it is clear that, for most pressure groups, lobbying other arms of government is rarely a sure means of realising organisational objectives.

Economic and occupational groups, for example, may have the most open access to government ministers, but they are also among the most prolific organisations to have contacts with parliament. This suggests that pressure groups operate over a broad front in the hope that lobbying individual members of parliament, as well as parliamentary inquiries and party committees, will all add to lobbying efforts directed at more important

arenas of power. To put it another way, pressure groups use parliament as part of their general strategies to influence policy outcomes, aware that party solidarity and cabinet dominance give government far more power over the fate of policy than parliament, but equally aware that politics is

not only about the exercise of power in the formal proceedings of parliament, but also of influence, both direct and indirect, along its fringes.

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Conclusion

The final value of parliament is that access to its members and forums is

relatively easy. In many ways pressure groups are already pushing against an open door when they set about establishing contacts with parliament.

Parliamentarians have a strong interest in accessing the type of information provided by pressure groups. Indeed, given the low internal authority of pressure groups to commit their members to centrally determined actions, it is precisely the quality and relevance of information held by pressure groups about the interest communities they represent that are the foundations upon which their relations with parliament are built.

Individual members of parliament have limited resources, whereas most pressure groups have premium information about the way government policies affect the interest communities they represent. For most members, a failure to tap such information when given the opportunity amounts to an abrogation of their sense of responsibility to keep abreast of public issues.

It remains to say something about the distribution of political power and what consequence pressure group politics holds for democracy at the national political level. It was noted in chapter two that pluralist and corporatist approaches are the most common paradigms employed to

analyse the political role of organised interests in society. It was also noted that neither approach is capable of providing a total picture of pressure group-government relations, and that elements of both can co-exist within a single political system. The findings of this study partially support this view. Characteristics common to corporatism can be found in the way economic and occupational groups have more advantages when lobbying

governmental institutions than pressure groups representing other areas of social life. They can also be found in the structures of representation, which are essentially unified in the sense that there is relatively little competition for membership between organisations covering the same interest. They can further be found, through in a more limited way, in the capacity of interests represented by economic and occupational groups to frustrate the political administration of certain areas of national policy.

Characteristics that identify pressure politics at the national level as corporatist are nonetheless thin on the ground. There is the important exception that no unified structure of interest representation exists in the case of business groups. The ability of agricultural and professional groups

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to commit members to obligations given on their behalf is also limited. And

conflicts between labour and business interests are mediated through long established legal mechanisms rather than day-to-day political interventions. There is thus no overwhelming bias of power in the hands of economic and occupational groups that could be said to challenge the ability of the national government to undertake independent action in areas that affect the interests these groups represent, at least not to the extent that appears to necessitate a response that involves the granting of rights of incorporation for the sole purpose of controlling their behaviour.

This is not to say that government is not active in seeking out the opinions of economic and occupational groups. Nor is to ignore the obvious affinities that exist between the ruling Labor party and the trade union movement, which are critically important to the conduct of incomes policy. But it is another thing to say that these relationships are founded on a mutual dependence between the participants. Most economic and occupational groups are simply not in a position to undertake substantive obligations, apply overt sanctions or enter into negotiated policy trade-offs in any structured way that would classify the relationships involved as corporatist.

Nor should it be forgotten that economic and occupational groups are not the only outside organisations capable of exerting influence at the level of government. Groups organised on other criteria also have access to

ministers, and, given the right conditions, can provide significant competition to economic and occupational groups in their quest to influence government policy deliberations. The reality is that the government typically seeks out opinions from across the pressure group spectrum. It

may grant access more often to economic and occupational groups than to groups organised on other criteria, but it does so largely in terms of its own needs and agendas rather than for the sole purpose of gaining the good-will

of powerful interests.

This has important implications for the pattern of relations between pressure groups and parliament. Because government has the scope to undertake policy action independent of the need to incorporate pressure groups into the policy process, then the decisions taken in relation to such

action can hardly be said to fall outside the formal arena of representative government. To put it another way, pressure group-government relations

114

Conclusion

are not of a type that allow for policy-making to occur without reference to

parliament. Parliament matters. The government may have considerable independence of action in its relations with pressure groups, but its policy deliberations are constrained by the collective opinion of parliament.

Pressure groups involved in negotiations with government can never be totally sure that their demands will be meet through lobbying at this level alone. They must deal with the fact that government decisions are rarely undertaken without reference to party interests and the electoral concerns of individual members, nor also without reference to what the weight of parliamentary opinion holds to be the outer limits of acceptable policy.

Characteristics common to pluralist pressure politics are apparent in this competition for influence. The dispersion of power across political institutions, even if heavily weighted in favour of the government, serves to fragment the lobbying efforts of pressure groups. In line with this pattern, also, the structure of business representation is highly fragmented, which diminishes the potential political power this category of group is capable of wielding. Another characteristic is evident in the relatively low internal authority displayed by pressure groups, which places a heavy reliance on the power of reasoned argument in political negotiations. A further characteristic is the general availability of resources which provide pressure

groups with some measure of external political legitimacy. All have the capacity to access some level of government on the basis of this legitimacy, such that the power to influence public policy, notwithstanding the independence of government to set its own agenda, is distributed rather than concentrated in the hands of one category of group. This distribution

may be far from even, but in accordance with what might be expected of a pluralist pressure politics, no category of group, or groups therein, could be said to dominate the policy process.

So what consequences does this hold for democracy? In answering this question it is first useful to look at the different interests represented by pressure groups and members of parliament. The leaders of pressure groups, for the most part, represent specific social interests that are rarely

confined to one location or wedded to one political outlook. Members of parliament, on the other hand, represent constituency interests within a set geographical boundary and generally adhere to programmes of the political

115

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

parties to which they belong. To the extent that both represent different

communities of interest, and the fact that both are subject to periodic elections on the basis of how well they perform this task, contacts between the two can only benefit the democratic process. Much of course depends on how these contacts are spread across political parties and categories of group. As the present study has shown, there is very little discrepancy in these regards. Most pressure groups have contacts across the political spectrum, and most members of parliament show little propensity to discriminate between which categories of group they are willing the see.

Much also depends on how representations made by parliament and pressure groups are received by government. In this regard, also, there is little evidence to suggest that representations made by pressure groups are

to the detriment of those made by parliament. Pressure groups feel moved to lobby parliament in much the same manner as they lobby government.

They do this in the belief that parliament is an important channel of access for mediating their concerns to the level government, and that the collective weight of political opinion of parliament can have an important bearing on the development and conduct of public policy. It would be easy to conclude from this that direct and indirect representations made to government by parliament on issues of policy are more powerful than those made by pressure groups. But the reality of the two forms of representation is far more complex, and perhaps better understood as re-enforcing one another in bringing the community closer to its mode of governance.

A final attribute of pressure group-parliament relations relates to the way pressure groups feed information into the political process. Pressure groups are important contributors that improve the capacity of parliamentarians to cope with the demands made of them. In so doing they indirectly help the

parliament in its role as a legislator. Conversely, in accepting the information provided by pressure groups, parliament acts as an important safety valve by ensuring that the interests of various social communities are articulated peacefully in the public arena. This type of intermediation

provides a latent form of legitimation of the whole democratic process, as affiliation and identification with pressure groups provides society with a sense of political involvement, whilst the benefits derived through the political activities of pressure groups helps to underpin society's support for the political system and its policy outcomes.

116

Appendix One: Results of Pressure Group Survey

Section One: About Your Organisation

Q 1: In what year was your organisation established?

before 1900 1901-25 1926-45 1946-55 1956-65 1966-75 1976-85 1986-95

(n) 8 14 22 10 16 40 - 36 27

(%) 4.6 8.1 12.7 5.8 9.3. 23.1 20.8 15.6

(n1 = 173)

Note: (n) = number of organisations that responded to the question entry.

(n1) = valid responses =178 participating groups, minus the number of respondents who either misinterpreted or choose not to answer the question.

(%) = organisations as a percentage of valid responses: n/n1 x 100.

Q 2: What sector of interest is your organisation most concerned?

Business Labour Agriculture Professional Special Situation Cause

(n) 67 11 12 17 29 42

(%) 37.6 6.2 6.7 9.6 16.3 23.6

(n1 = 178)

Note: Because of the diverse range of activities undertaken by pressure groups it is often the case that some fit comfortably into a single category, others demonstrate characteristics pertinent to more than one category; still others demonstrate: characteristics that equate with no particular category. Most pressure groups engage in non-

political activity or:only engage in political activity intermittently. This makes any accurate classification at any given moment difficult to achieve. Notwithstanding, for the purpose of the study to which the survey was, addressed, respondents were classified in the following way: business groups represent industry, commerce, finance and manufacturing; labour groups (i.e., trade unions) represent waged labour; agricultural groups represent the farm sector; professional groups represent the 'learned professions' (i.e., doctors, accountants, lawyers); special situation groups represent members that share interests based on some common life experience (i.e., war veterans and the

RSL) or genetic trait (i.e., groups representing women, disabled or the aged); and cause groups seek to influence policy-on behalf of the 'common good' and are made up of members devoted to an ideology or a single political goal (i.e., animal rights).

Q 3:. Does your organisation have offices in all Australian states?

All states Some states

(n) 61 115

(%) 34.7 65.3

(n1 =176)

117

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Q 4: In what cityis yourorganisation'shead office?

Canberra Sydney Melbourne Brisbane Adelaide Perth Hobart Other

(n) 65 50 48 4 1 0 0 8

(%) 37.3 28.3 27.1 2.3 0.5 0.0 0.0 4.5

(n1 =177)

Q 5: How many affiliated organisations and/or individual members does your organisation represent (approximately)? (Simple summation of figures relevant to this question is meaningless because of overlapping memberships. Cited here is the mode of representation only)

organisations only individual members only organisations and individual members (n) 64 58 44

(%) 38.6 34.9 26.5

(n1 = 166)

Q 6: How many paid employees work for your organisation?

Full-time Full-time Part-time Part-time Full-time Part-time Total

(Canberra) (elsewhere) (Canberra) (elsewhere) (total) (total)

(n) 884 9,104 106 2,630 9,988 2,736 12,724

(n1 = 172)

Q 7: What is the yearly budget of your organisation?

Average Median Largest Smallest Total

(per org.) (per org.) (all org.)

$2,448,000 $800,000 $4,500,000 $10 $452,000,000

(n1 = 141)

Q 8: What is the source of your organisation's revenue?

Fees Donation Government Government Other

Subsidy Grant

(average %) 63.1 6.7 8.0 3.1 19.1

(n1 = 168)

118

Appendix One

Q 9: Does your organisation compete with other organisations for membership?

Yes No

(n) 59 114

(%) 34.1 65.9

(n1 =173)

Q 10: What degree of internal authority or control does your organisation have over its membership?

Very High High Low Very Low

(n) 10 28 52 68

(%) 6.3 17.7 32.9 43.1

(n1 = 158)

Q 11: In the day-to-day running of your organisation, which of the following broadly describes the way your organisation reaches decisions? (n) (%)

i)decisions are reached after negotiation and consultation with members 40 26.9 ii)decisions are reached after negotiation and consultation with representative committees 73 49.0 iii)decisions are reached unilaterally within the terms of congress mandate or similar 19 12.8 iv)decisions are reached unilaterally based on the perception of membership needs 17 11.3 (n1 = 149)

Q 12: Does your organisation have working parties, consultative committee or similar bodies?

Yes No

(n) 152 12

(%) 92.7 7.3

(n1 = 164)

Q 13: How are executive decisions reached within your organisation?

Strict Unanimity Simple Majority Consensus Qualified Majority

(n) 15 72 31 27

(%) 10.3 49.7 21.4 18.6

(n1 = 145)

119

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Q 14: Which of the following activities does your organisation engage in? Distinguish the importance you place on the activity in the following way: O=not applicable, 1=very low, 2=low, 3=high, 4=very high

1 2 3 4 0

(n ) (Y.) (n ) (%) (n ) (%) (n ) (%)

a) Inform government of members' interests 5 3.0 16 9.6 47 28.3 98 59.1 0 0.0

b) Inform members of government activities 13 7.4 21 12.0 55 31.4 83 47.4 3 1.8

c) Conduct studies, seminars and conferences to facilitate a cross-flow of information between members 11 6.3 21 12.1 78 44.8 63 36.2 1 0.6

d) Conduct studies, seminars and conferences to enhance public awareness of the sector's interests and concerns 39 22.2 50 28.6 42 24.0 25 14.3 19 10.9

e) Try to achieve consensus within the organisation 11 6.3 33 19.0 54 31.0 65 37.4 11 6.3

f) Collaborate with other interest organisations 4 2.3 22 12.6 100 57.1 46 26.3 3 1.7

g) Promote sector of interest in general 4 2.3 12 6.9 69 39.4 . 85 48.6 5 2.8

h) Promote interest of members only 29 16.6 39 22.3 54 30.9 24 13.7 29 16.6

i) Promote interest of members and non-members 13 7.4 35 20.0 56 32.0 50 28.6 21 12.0

j) Provide selective benefits to members in exchange for member support 26 14.9 29 16.5 40 . 22.9 22 12.6 58 33.1

k) Provide universal benefits to society in exchange for member support 20 11.6 38 22.0 32 18.5 22 12.7 61 35.3

(n1 = 175, except questions 14a (166), 14c (174), 14e (174), and 14k (173).

Section Two: Contact with Members of the House of

Representatives

Q 15: Written question relating to aims and objectives

120

Appendix One

Q 16: Does your organisation have regular contact with any Members of House of Representatives (MHR)?

Yes No

(n) 120 50

(%) 70.5 29.5

(n1 = 170)

Q 17: Are your organisation's contacts limited to MHRs of only one party or does it have contacts with MHRs of a number of parties?

One Party A Number of Parties

(n) 17 146

(%) 10.4 89.6

(nl = 163)

Q 18: Does your organisation send information or briefings to all MHRs or to a large number of MHRs?

Regularly Often Occasionally Rarely Never

(monthly) (six monthly) (annually) (every 5 years) (n) 22 47 57 25 16

(%) 13.2 28.1 34.1 15.0 9.6

(n1 =167)

Q 19: Does your organisation provide technical, logistical or other assistance to one or more MHRs?

Yes No

(n) 61 106

(%) 39.6 63.4

(n1 = 167)

Q 20: Is there an MHR or group of MHRs you regard as having a particular interest in your area?

Yes No

(n) 138 30

(%) 82.2 17.8

(nl = 168)

121

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Q 22: Has your organisation ever asked an MHR to:

Yes

(n) (%)

Put down a parliamentary question? 59 36.8

Table a motion? 14 8.7

Introduce or sponsor a private member's bill? 8 5.0 Table an amendment to a bill? 35 21.9

Arrange a meeting for you at parliament house 92 57.5 Arrange a meeting with a minister? 78 48.6

Raise an issue in a party caucus? 48 30.0

Organise a dinner between MHRs and your organisation? 40 25.0 (nl = 160)

Q 23: How would you rate your contacts with MHRs?

Very Useful Useful Not Very Useful Of No Use Varies

(n) 48 88 11 5 18

(%) 27.4 51.8 6.5 2.9 10.6

(nl =170)

Section Three: Contact with Members of Senate

Q 24: Does your organisation have regular contact with Senators?

Yes No

(n) 103 65

(%) 61.3 38.7

(n1 = 168)

Q 25: Are your organisation's contacts limited to Senators of only one party or does it have contacts with Senators of a number of parties?

One Party A Number of Parties

(n) 17 134

(%) 11.3 88.7

(n1 = 151)

122

Appendix One

Q 26: Does your organisation send infort of Senators?

Regularly Often

(monthly) (bi-annually)

(n) 21 42

(%) 12.9 25.7

(n1 = 163)

nation or briefings to all Senators or to a large number

Occasionally Rarely Never

(annually) (every 5 years) 50 33 17

30.7 20.2 10.5

Q 27: Does your organisation provide any technical, logistical or other assistance to one or more Senators?

Yes No

(n) 61 106

(%) 36.6 63.4

(n1 = 167)

Q 28: Is there a particular Senator or group of Senators you regard as having an interest in your area?

Yes No

(n) 117 55

(%) 68.0 32

(n1 = 172)

Q 30: Has your organisation ever asked a Senator to:

Yes

(n ) (%

Put down a parliamentary question? 54 33.8

Table a motion? 16 10.0

Introduce or sponsor a private member's bill? 11 6.9

Table an amendment to a bill? 11 6.9

Arrange a meeting for you at parliament house? 65 40.8

Arrange a meeting with a minister? 62 38.8

Raise an issue in a party caucus? 43 26.9

Organise a dinner between Senators and your organisation? 33 20.7

(n1 = 160)

123

Pressure Groups and the Australian, Federal Parliament

Q 31: How would you rate your contacts with Senators?

Very Useful Useful Not Very Useful Of No Use Varies

(n) 47 80 15 9 17

(%) 28.8 47.6 8.9 5.4 10.1

(n1 = 168)

Section Four: Contacts With Parliamentary Committees

Q 32: Has your organisation ever presented oral evidence or appeared before a parliamentary committee?

Yes No

(n) 123 42

(%) 74.6 25.4

(nl = 165)

Q 33: If yes, does our organisation feel it had an adequate opportunity to present its views in

these forums?

Yes No

(n) 120 13

(%) 90.2 9.8

(n1 = 133)

Q 34: Has your organisation ever presented written evidence to a parliamentary committee?

Yes No

(n) 101 39

(%) 72.1 27.9

(n1 = 140)

Q 35: In general, has the written evidence your organisation presented been requested by the committee(s) or has it been submitted on your own initiative?

Usually Requested Usually Unsolicited Mixture of Both

(n) 30 30 81

(%) 21.3 21.3 57.4

(n1 = 141)

124

Appendix One

Q 36: What impact do you believe your evidence made upon these committees and their reports?

Significant Some Minimal None Varies Don't Know

(n) 20 49 13 4 7 30

(%) 16.3 39.8 10.6 3.2 5.7 24.4

(n1 = 123)

Section Five: Contacts with Party Committees

Q 37: Has your organisation ever had contact with party committees or subject groups?

Yes No

(n) 96 66

(%) 59.3 40.7

(n1 =162)

Q 38: If so, how fre

Often (annually)

(n) 27

(%) 28.1

(n1 =96)

auent have these contact been?

Occasionally Rarely

(bi-annually) (less than bi-annually) 35 34

36.5 35.4

Q 39: Has your organisation ever been invited to attend meetings of party committees or subject groups?

Yes No

(n) 62 34

(%) 64.6 35.4

(n1 = 96)

Q 40: How would you rate your organisation's contacts with these committees?

Very Useful Useful Not Very Useful Of No Use

(n) 15 61 16 4

(%) 15.6 63.6 16.7 4.1

(nl = 96)

125

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Section Six: Contacts with Parliament Generally

Q 41: How do you keep in touch with what is happening in parliament?

(n) (%)

Direct contact with back-bench MHRs 75 43.1

Direct contact with back-bench Senators 71 40.8

Parliamentary consultant or public relations firm 25 14.4 House Literature 93 53.5

Hansard 70 40.2

House Magazine 29 16.7

Work of Committees 33 19.0

Notice Papers 26 15.0

Daily Bills List (H of R) 17 9.8

Bills List (Senate 17 9.8

Focal Point 4 2.3

Parliamentary Papers 22 12.6

Work of the Session 9 5.2

Business of the Senate 8 4.6

Radio 137 78.7

Newspapers 163 93.7

Television 135 77.6

Other 40 23.0

No regular contact 8 4.6

(n1 = 174)

Q 42: From your experience, which is the more useful parliamentary institution to make representations in order to influence policy?

(n) (%)

House of Representatives27 17.9 Senate 14 8.0

About equal 28 16.1

Depends on the issue 82 47.0

(n1 = 151)

126

Appendix One

Q 43: As far as your contacts with parliament are concerned, please place the following in order of importance to your organisation? (1,2,3,4)

1 2 3 4

(n) (%) (n) (%) (n) (%) (n) (%) (n1)

Back-bench MHR 36 27.9 39 30.3 43 33.3 11 8.5 129

Back-bench Senators 29 23.4 44 35.5 28 22.5 23 18.6 124

Pail. Committees 60 48.0 17 13.6 23 18.4 25 20.0 125

Party Committees 18 14.6 28 22.6 21 16.8 57 46.0 124

Q 44: Based on your experience, place the following in order of importance in terms of your organisation's efforts to influence policy?

Ranking 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

( n) (%) (n) (%) (n) (%) (n) (%) (n) (%) (n) (0 ) (n) (%) (a)

Ministers 37 50.7 22 30.1 4 5.5 4 5.5 3 4.2 1 1.4 2 2.7 0.49

Public Departments 19 26.0 27 37.0 8 11.0 6 8.2 4 5.5 2 2.7 7 9.6 0.36

Media 5 6.9 9 12.3 20 27.4 10 13.7 15 20.6 13 17.8 1 11.7 0.27

Parliament 4 5.5 4 5.5 15 20.6 12 16.4 16 21.9 14 19.2 8 7.8 0.23

Political Parties 2 2.7 4 5.5 13 17.8 14 19.2 14 19.2 20 27.4 6 45.4 0.22

Public Opinion 5 6.9 5 6.9 6 8.2 19 26.0 7 9.6 14 19.2 17 1.3 0.21

One Party 1 1.4 2 2.7 7 9.6 8 11.0 14 19.2 9 12.3 32 22.1 0.19

(n1 =73) (a) = Inverse of weighted average (or order of importance)

Q 45: How has your organisation expressed its concern over legislation in which it has an interest?

Yes

(n ) (%)

By circularising all or a large number of MPs 81 47.9

By asking MPs to speak in a second reading debate 26 15.4

By arranging a meeting with or a seminar for MPs 72 42.6

By circularising members of parliamentary committees during committee stage of the bill 43 25.4 By asking MPs to ask parliamentary questions about a bill 44 26.0

By asking an MP to arrange a meeting with a minister responsible for the bill 44 26.0

Directly contacting the minister responsible for the bill 123 72.8

Raising media and public awareness about your concerns over a bill 104 61.5

Withdrawal of threatened withdrawal of support for a bill 15 8.9

Public demonstrations 24 14.2

Other 20 11.8

(n1 = 169)

127

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Q 46: Speaking generally, how would you rate your organisation's efforts at influencing legislation before parliament?

Very SuccessfulQuite Successful Not Ve ry Successful Unsuccessful

(n) 8 84 42 6

(%) 5.7 60.0 30.0 4.3

(n1 = 140)

Section Seven: The Lobbying Process - Some Open Ended

Questions

Q 47: Are the facilities for access to parliament adequate?

Yes Yes, but couldbe improved No Don't know

(n) 64 59 19 14

(%) 41.0 37.8 12.2 9.0

(n1 =156)

Q 48: Are you aware of any abuses of the lobbying process in parliament?

Yes No Don't Know

(n) 12 87 43

(%) 8.5 61.3 30.2

(n1 = 142)

Q 49: Do you worry about the lobbying world getting too crowded?

Yes No Don't Know

(n) 49 66 28

(%) 34.3 46.2 19.6

(n1 = 143)

Q 50: Question relating to follow up interviews

(Note: figures contained in this appendix supersede those contained in the survey mailed to participating pressure groups in December 1995)

128

Appendix Two: Listing of Survey Participants

Business Groups (Anonymous listing) ASEAN-Australia Business Council

Association of Australian Aerospace Industries

Association of Employers of Waterside Labour Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia

Australasian Institute of Fundraising Australia Fiji Business Council Australia Indonesia Business Council Australia Malaysia Business Council Australia New Zealand Business

Council Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council Australia Philippines Business

Council

Australia Thailand Business Council Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Australian Chamber of Shipping Australian Electrical and Electronic

Manufactures Association Australian Federation of Travel Agents

Australian Health Insurance Association Australian Information Industry Association

Australian Institute of Export Australian International Projects Australian Library and Information Association

Australian Mines' and Metals' Association

Australian Mining Industry Council Australian Music Association

Australian Peak Shippers' Association Australian Pensioners' and Superannuants' Federation Australian Pharmaceutical

Manufacturers' Association Australian Private Hospitals' Association

Australian Record Industry Association

Australian Shipbuilders' Association Australian Steel Association Australian Supermarket Institute

Australian Telecommunications Industry Association Bread Manufacturers' Industrial Association of Australia Business Council of Australia Confectionary Manufacturers of

Australia Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia Electricity Supply Association of

Australia Environmental Management Industry Association

Food and Beverage Importers' Association

Forest Protection Society Grocery Manufacturers of Australia Hardware Federation of Australia Heavy Engineering Manufacturers'

Association Insurance Council of Australia International Banks and Securities

Association of Australia Life Insurance Federation of Australia

Liquor Merchants' Association of Australia

129

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Master Builders, Australia Meat and Allied Trades' Federation of Australia Media Council of Australia

National Association of Forest Industries

National Council of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industries National Council of Independent Schools National Foods' Association of

Australia National Restaurant and Catering Association of Australia Nutritional Foods' Association of

Australia Plastics and Chemical Industries Association Printing and Allied Trades

Employers' Federation of Australia Pulp and Paper Manufacturers' Federation of Australia Real Estate Institute of Australia Retailers' Council of Australia

Service Station Association Textile, Clothing and Footwear Council of Australia Timber Trade Industrial Association Tourism Council of Australia

Labour Groups

Australian Council of Trade Unions Australian Education Union Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union

Australian Postal and Telecommunications Union Australian Services Union Australian Workers' Union

Electrical Trades' Union of Australia Finance Sector Union of Australia National Union of Workers

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association Transport Workers' Union of Australia

Agricultural Groups

Australian Citrus Growers' Federation Australian Cotton Foundation Australian Council of Wool Exporters' Australian Vegetable and Potato

Growers' Association Cattle Council of Australia Grains' Council of Australia

Murray Darling Association National Association for Crop Protection and Animal Health

National Farmers' Federation National Fishing Industry Council Pork Council of Australia Wheat Council of Australia

Professional Groups

Association of Consulting Engineers, Australia Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia Australian Association of Dietitians Australian Association of

Neurologists Australian Council of Professions Australian Dental Association Australian Institute of Building Australian Institute of Company

Directors Australian Lifewriters' Association Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants Dietitians' Association of Australia Institution of Engineers, Australia

130

Appendix Two

Jewellers' Association of Australia Law Council of Australia National Institute of Accountants Pharmacy Guild of Australia

Special Situation Groups

Aged Care Australia

Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Amputee Federation of Australia Arthritis Foundation of Australia Association of Australian Asthma

Foundation Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women Australian Early Childhood

Association Australian Federation of Aids' Organisations Australian Institute of Aboriginal

and Torres Strait Islander Studies Australian Youth Policy and Action Coalition Council on the Ageing

Country Women's Association Diabetes, Australia

Disabled People's Association Family Planning Australia Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia

International Organisation for Migration Italian Committee Against Racial Discrimination and National

Defamation National Association for Autism National Council on Intellectual

Disability National Federation of Blind Citizens of Australia

National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Australia

National Skillshare Association National Youth Coalition for Housing National Union of Students

Navel Association of Australia Northern Land Council Returned and Services League of Australia

Women's Electoral Lobby

Cause Groups

Abortion Law Repeal Association Abortion Providers' Federation of Australia Association Against Obtrusive

Lighting

Association for Good Government Australian Association of Adult Education Australian Campaign for

Disarmament and Peace Australian Catholic Relief Australian Children's Television Action Committee Australian Conservation Foundation Australian Consumers' Association Australian Defence Association Australian Drug Foundation Australian Federation of Consumer

Organisations

Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations

Australian National Flag Association Australian Republican Movement Australian Rights Movement Australian Shareholders Association Australian Taxpayers' Association Australian Wildlife Protection

Council

Australians Against Further Immigration Children by Choice

131

Pressure Groups and the Australian Federal Parliament

Citizens Commission on Human Rights Community Aid Abroad Consumers Health Forum Environmental Defenders' Office Greening Australia Gun Control Australia H. R. Nicholls Society Humanist Society of Victoria Kidsafe — Child Accident Prevention

Foundation Movement Against Uranium Mining National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws National Civic Council National Council of Churches in

Australia North Queensland Conservation Council Nutritional Foods Association of

Australia Public Health Association of Australia Queensland Conservation Council Tax Reform Australia Wilderness Society Worldwide Fund for Nature -Australia

Members of Parliament Interviewed (June-July 1995; October 1995)

Eric Abetz — Senator — Liberal Michael Cobb — MHR — National Barry Cunningham — MHR — Labor Robert Bell — Senator — Australian

Democrats John Forrest — MHR — National Christine Gallus — MHR — Liberal John Langmore — MHR - Labor Meg Lees — Senator — Australian

. .Democrats Bruce Lloyd — MHR— National Ted Mack — MHR — Independent Kim Moylan — MHR — Liberal

Gavin O'Connor — MHR — Labor Lindsay Tanner — MHR — Labor Paul Teague — Senator — Liberal

Pressure Group Interviews (April-May; September -October 1995)

Australian Council of Trade Unions Finance Sector Union Australian Workers' Union National Farmers' Federation Australian Chamber of Commerce

and Industry Public Department Interviews (September—October 1995) Department of Employment

Education and Training Department of Immigration Department of Sport, Recreation and the Environment

Media Interviews (May 1995)

The Canberra Times

132

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