Lobbyist expects busy times

INDEPENDENTS are likely to decide the outcome of the next WA Government election, says former WA Liberal Party leader turned political lobbyist Barry MacKinnon.

“I think the Government is precariously placed,” Mr MacKinnon said.

“The number of seats Geoff Gallop has to win has never been done before so history is against Labor.

“I believe there will be three Independents after the election so it will be either a very small majority Coalition Government or one determined by the Independents.”

Mr MacKinnon said the pre-election climate had been good for his business, BarMac Consulting.

“A pre-election environment is busier, particularly when people perceive the government may change,” he said.

“They want to discuss the implications of that. They want to know how to deal with a potentially changed government without annoying the present one.”

Mr MacKinnon felt political lobbying had never been done well in WA.

“Before I went into Parliament I had my own accounting practice. Back then the Tax Act was one and a half inches thick. Now it’s three volumes,” he said.

“I looked at buying a business but nothing appealed so I decided to enter the political lobbying and consulting arena.”

Mr MacKinnon said his role was to help people talk to, approach and influence the WA Government.

“My clients range from multi-nationals to someone with a planning issue and who wants to know how to appeal to the Planning Minister,” he said.

“My skill is to tell people how to talk to people, who to talk to and when to talk to them.

“Too often people come in and want to talk to the minister. The minister is usually the last person you want to talk to.”

Mr MacKinnon soon realised he would need to be able to cover both sides of the political spectrum.

When he first started his business, his offsider was former Labor Environment Minister Bob Pierce who has since taken a role with the Forestry Industry Federation of WA.

Former WA Deputy Premier Ian Taylor took his place.

Mr MacKinnon said he knew most of the ALP members well but it was useful to have someone who understood the nuances of the party.

He said the key to his clients’ success with government was their ability to listen to his advice and make the approaches to government themselves.

“If I make all the approaches to government it is not as successful,” Mr MacKinnon said.

“The government listens to the person who is affected by the issue.”

Mr MacKinnon said he was disappointed with the way his political career had ended.

“I had wanted to be Premier. I felt we had done the hard yards and would win the 1993 election,” he said.

However, Richard Court replaced him as Liberal Leader almost on the eve of the election, ending a 17-year political career.

Mr MacKinnon said he had considered entering Federal politics after that but dismissed the idea.

“Your family pays a high enough price when you’re in state politics.

“My decision to leave politics was the right one at the right time.”

Besides his lobbying activities, Mr MacKinnon is chairman of the Disability Services Commission and the Fire and Rescue Services Authority.

“I’m not interested in building a bigger business. I’m happy with things the way they are,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to a pretty active couple of years. In a few years I’ll look at bringing somebody else into the business because there is a demand for this service.”

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