In 1947 Australia’s banks launched a PR campaign against Prime Minister Ben Chifley.
This article first appeared in the Canberra Times, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.
You can almost hear the ghost of Prime Minister Ben Chifley applauding Bill Shorten’s calls for a Royal Commission into Australian banking.
Yet while Chifley might approve Shorten’s efforts he would probably think they do not go far enough. In 1947 Chifley, the train driver turned politician, led a Labor Government that legislated to nationalise Australia’s banks. In doing he triggered one of the largest public relations campaigns in Australian history, one that finally led to the defeat of his Government.
Efforts in the US State of New York may limit the role of PR plays in grass roots campaigns.
Lobbying is a legitimate part of community communications but often it can look remarkably similar to what public relations professionals do. Many large Australian PR agencies offer ‘government relations’ among their services.
The Australian Government Register of Lobbyists lists many of Australia’s largest PR firms as well as many smaller outfits. From time to time the media scrutinises the actions of lobbyists in particular issues but the fact a (registered) PR professional can approach a government minister or senior bureaucrat on behalf of a client is unquestioned.