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Lawmaking Process

Influence of Pressure Groups

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Pressure Group: 

  • An association who seek to influence the law-making process, without having seats in parliaments

Sectional Pressure Group: 

  • A pressure group which promotes the interests of a particular section of society. They tend to have a restricted membership as a result - e.g: trade unions

Promotional Pressure Group: 

  • Seek to promote a particular cause (sometimes called cause-based pressure groups) and usually have open memberships (e.g: Australians for marriage equality)

Hybrid Pressure Group: 

  • Represent both sectional interests of a sector of society, but also promote causes they believe are of collective benefit (e.g: Australian Medical Association)

Mechanisms of Influencing:

Pressure groups can influence law making through the following mechanisms;

  • - Lobbying the government, ministers, or MPs

  • This is influential for MCA or BCA, or AMA as they are well funded and relevant, but less influential for Stop Adani movement which does not have the funds or importance to influence parliamentarians.

  • Taking direct action

  • Direct action refers to political, economic, or social activities undertaken by pressure groups to exert pressure on lawmakers. Their influence is dependent on support and membership – School Strike for Climate and GetUp! are examples.

  • Writing submissions to parliament

  • Can be powerful in expert opinion and technical details of legislation e.g. AMA submission to parliamentary committee in the No Jab No Pay Campaign, which influenced the passing of the Social Services Legislation Amendment Act (No Jab No Pay) 2015 which meant that only parents with vaccinated children cold receive childcare rebate and family tax benefits

  • Using media

  • Advertising campaigns, smear campaigns, social media etc. can all be used to influence lawmaking, and GetUp! is an example of social media

  • Contributing donations to a political party

  • Although laws limit financial contributions, celebrities and sponsors can help initiate support etc.

  • Taking legal action

  • Pressure Groups can challenge legislation and policy through appeals to courts

Examples of Pressure Groups Influencing

GetUp! vs Electoral Commissioner

  • GetUp! Australia created a way to allow aussies to enrol online in future elections by having a digital signature.

  • The AEC invalidated a person's application due to that signature. Federal Court ruled in favour of GetUp! and allowed aussies to sign up online for the election.

  • Impact of this was that it changed the ability of the AEC to decide whether an application was in "order" and resulted in people signing up online

Rowe vs Electoral Commissioner (case was funded by GetUp! Aus but only Rowe could be represented)

  • Reduced the close of rolls period. Prior to this, new electors could enrol, and enrolled electors could update their details in the 7 days following the issue of the writs.

  • The new change meant changes to enrolment details had to be received within 3 days of the issue of the writs.

  • The H.C ruled the Voting Amendment to be unconstitutional and declared that the voting period be reinstated to 7 days

Roach vs Electoral Commissioner (case was assisted by the Human Rights Law Centre but only Roach could be represented)

  • Argued that the people in jail should be able to vote in federal elections. The AEC argued people shouldn’t be allowed as they committed a crime against the community, hence it's justified to take their right to vote.

  • The Court held that voting in elections is fundamental to democracy & disenfranchisement of a group of adult citizens w/o a substantial reason would not be consistent with it.

  • Decision = people serving under 3 years in jail are now able to vote in federal elections. Initially, this was not possible.

Equal Marriage Act (2016/2017)

  • The liberal govt in 2016 tried to passed the Equal Marriage Plebiscite, however, failed in the Senate due to claims that it would cost too much. Tried to pass it again in AUG 2017, however, it failed again.

  • Due to this Finance Minister Mr Cormann asked the ABS to send out a voluntary survey on the Equal Marriage in aus.

  • Australian Marriage Equality (AME) is an advocacy group which aimed to change the beliefs of individuals to a 'YES' vote by holding protests & use of social media

  • This use of persuading the aus public worked since survey recieved 62% YES votes from the public

  • In response to this Senator Dean Smith launched a PMB in the Senate named Marriage Amendment Bill which passed through both houses & recieved royal Ass

  • The AME pressure was highly influential in the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill since it increased the % of yes votes in the equal marriage survey which had a knock effect to passing in the Marriage Amendment Bill since it showed the will of the country wanted equal marriage.