How the med tech industry should approach advocacy before the election
A recent panel discussion at MTAA’s MedTech21 virtual conference offered fascinating insight on how the medical technology industry should engage with government ahead of the Federal Election next year.
Rising political stars in the health sector, Liberal MP Dr Katie Allen and Labor’s Milton Dick, were joined by Nationals Senator Perin Davey to discuss the challenges and opportunities of an election set amidst a pandemic.
Advocating for better access to medical technology is not just about scheduling meetings with parliamentarians, or landing a story in the 6pm news bulletin in a crowded media landscape. There are more strategies and tactics that come into play.
Successful face-to-face meetings between industry and parliamentarians
The panel suggested that although attending meetings in Canberra can give good outcomes, parliamentarians are able to better concentrate on constituent issues when they are in the electorate.
Another suggestion was to set up meetings at the med tech company’s headquarters or offices if close-by, as this is a great learning opportunity for the parliamentarian.
Key considerations for meetings:
- Have a clear ask
- Allow the parliamentarian to ask questions
- Bring a 1-pager to share with the parliamentarian
Other advocacy levers
- Target marginal seat-holders.
- Build relationships with both the Coalition, the opposition and cross-benchers.
- Good policy-writing.
Do well-funded campaigns sway decisions?
Not necessarily. It is about constituents and the economic impact of the advocacy issue. Putting on pressure in a strategic manner where it needs to go is critical, as parliamentarians tend to act based upon public opinion. Billboards and television commercials are not necessarily effective. It is about the issue at hand, understanding what the parliamentarian cares about and focusing on that.
Grassroots advocacy by constituents stood out as one tactic that is effective in driving change. If a person living with an illness or who needs a certain non-subsidised therapy or device walks through the electorate office door to tell their story, there is certainly more pressure to reach out to the health minister or speak on the issue publicly. This is not universally true, however, empowering people to be their own champion is what a democracy is all about.
When it comes to advocacy campaigns with smaller budgets, it’s about spending smartly. Real stories work when backed up with data, research and effective strategic decisions.
Effective advocacy needs to be met with strongly led direction and a clear call to action. Constituent or company meetings are not enough on their own. Being direct with how the parliamentarian can help is key.
When planning advocacy campaigns in the future, it is important to know who holds influence across the political aisle and to make sure that the advocacy ask is part of the discourse with the parliamentarian. Med tech companies should not just be present when something is needed from parliamentarian; they should also be ready to provide useful information to support their interests.
The Senate is a different world to the House, as it is the Senators’ responsibility to review and amend new legislations.
Industry advocates should research and understand who the crossbenchers are. They are critical in passing legislation and can side with each major party with the right allyship. Sign-off from three crossbenchers is required to pass anything through the Senate.
The upcoming federal election will be unlike one we have seen before, presenting both opportunities and challenges for advocacy campaigns.
Get in touch to learn more today.