Calling on Ministers

Before you visit a Minister, Senator or Member it is useful to understand certain basics. Expect to be granted about 15 minutes with a Minister, but don’t be offended if you are interrupted. Be flexible and prepared to make every second count. Keep in mind that you are trying to influence a decision or process where a Minister’s primary source of advice is the Public Service and to some extent his own staff.
Time is scarce. Prepare issues in advance and keep presentations brief.
2 Don’t be offended if you are kept waiting. It is sometimes impossible for Ministers and even their staff to be prompt.
3 Do not keep the Minister waiting. Be prompt. Better still be early. You can put the few extra minutes to good use by collecting yourself and reviewing your strategy, especially if you are part of a group meeting. Some Ministers will invite you in early.
4 Do not allow an appointment secretary to deflect you if you have a scheduled meeting. If the Minister is not there when you arrive, ask to meet with a senior staff member.
4 Identify yourself straight off — by name, business and in some cases home town.
4 Do not waste time. Get on with it. A staff member will probably greet you and stay for the meeting. Remember why you are there. Steer the conversation in the direction you want to go.
4 Use persuasion, not confrontation. Present your concerns clearly and in an orderly fashion. Do not overwhelm the Minister with impersonal statistics and details. State the problem in human terms, with real examples of how the situation affects you, your customers, employees etc. and his voters.
4 Leave a fact sheet that summarises the problem and your proposed solution.
4 Inform the Minister as to how you will follow-up the meeting. Offer to provide supplementary information and further assistance. Do not leave the office without getting the name of the staff person who will be your contact on the issue and stay in touch with him/her.