First speeches, formerly referred to as maiden speeches, give an invaluable insight into not only the new member’s motivation to run for parliament and their goals but also their personal background and upbringing.
You may not have realised but the Member for Herbert, Mr Phillip Thompson OAM, MP and the Member for Bass, Ms Bridget Archer MP, have already given their first speeches throughout the first sitting week with the remainder of the ‘Class of 2019’ set to follow in the coming sitting weeks.
In anticipation of this, here are our thoughts on what business and industry should be taking away from a first speech.
MOTIVATION TO RUN AND GOALS FOR THEIR FIRST TERM
For stakeholders, the most important point to garner from a first speech is what motivated the member to run for Parliament. These insights are invaluable and give everyone a deeper understanding of not only the nature and demeanour of the member but also areas of policy that interest them.
Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP’s first speech outlined investment in foreign aid, economic reform and the encouragement of small business as his key policy interest, all of which he has pursued throughout his time in Parliament. Meanwhile, the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP’s first speech detailed his commitment to development of an effective public service and a reduction in tax avoidance by individuals and companies.
First speeches also typically contain what the MP or Senator wishes to achieve throughout their term. These goals may be electorate-specific, or they may be a grander policy agenda that aims to achieve substantial change throughout Australia.
For example, Mr Thompson’s first speech, given his defence force background, showed that his agenda for his first term in Parliament will centre around veterans and the mental health concerns they have upon returning home. Meanwhile, Ms Archer’s first speech showed her motivations and goals to be very electorate-focused, with her aim being to try to deliver for Bass, located in Northern Tasmania.
For business and industry, if any new members’ motivation to run or goals align with the policy pursuits or interests of your business or industry, engagement with these new members and their offices is encouraged. Long term engagement with these offices can prove to be beneficial as they can be shaped into a voice of support within the major parties.
Business and industry should note that a first speech not only is a platform for new members to open up about their personal ambitions and goals for their time in Parliament but also expand on their own background and their path to ‘the Hill’.
These insights into the background and upbringing of the new members are important to note for business and industry as they give a potential roadmap for a more personalised engagement with the new members and hence may lead to the formation of stronger working relationships with the member and their office.
For instance, members that have showed they are family-focused in their first speech, such as the Member for Wannon, the Hon Dan Tehan MP or Senator for South Australia, Senator the Hon Don Farrell, may benefit from a family-orientated engagement strategy on issues. Meanwhile, those members who mention they are from an academic background, including the Member for Indi, Dr Helen Haines MP (health academic) and Member for Cowan, Dr Anne Aly MP (counterterrorism and security academic), may appreciate a more evidence-based approach to engagement.
At Nexus Public Affairs, we have a government affairs team with extensive experience in analysing multiple aspects of political discourse and distilling key information, including first speeches. Should you require these services, please don’t hesitate to contact our team.