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Learning politics with the help of Holly Bennett


At Soda Inc. we love to learn, especially from experts who know exactly what they are talking about! Which is why we spent an afternoon with Holly Bennett, founder of HSB Government Relations, learning all about, you guessed it, government relations!

As a team, we reflected on our take home notes and each wrote down our top five learnings. Some of our take homes crossed over, but we managed to come up with a top 15 between those of us who attended; Erin Wansbrough, Rachel Adams, John Wilkinson, Anna Devcich and Kyra Piccione.

1. The opposing MP holds some power over the current MP, as they can ask questions and those questions have to be answered within five days. This process is called the Written Parliamentary Question (WPQ) process. This is much faster than the Official Information Act (OIA) process!

2. Attending networking events in Wellington is the fastest way to interact with the political community.

3. We now more clearly understand the roles and functions of the Private Secretaries.

4. Holly Bennett has a wicked taste in shoes! She is kick arse!

5. How critical it is to have a targeted list of who you should talk to within the government based on the outcome you are looking for (aka don't have a scattergun approach as it's a waste of time).

6. Politicians are operating within limited processes and old school working environments, hence inefficiencies.

7. Understanding how List and Electoral MPs operate.

8. The complexities of the layers in Government and how you should engage/talk to each group (Parliament, Executive, Officials).

9. The resources that are available at different levels of government and how they vary dramatically between government and opposition MP’s and ministers.

10. The importance of knowing who your local representatives and key ministers are and who are their key staff both political and apolitical.

11. Establishing relationships with Government is a long-term game and efficient admin staff can move through the ranks pretty quickly.

12. Winston Peters is an excellent negotiator and is the only person who is not a prime minister who can be called the Rt Hon.

13. There is 40,000 people per each MP in NZ (12o MP’s in total).

14. When requesting information from an MP be clear in what you are after. Make sure you ask who, what, why, when, how and where.

15. Holly Bennett has the best laugh, it’s contagious.

HSB Government Relations matches domestic and overseas businesses with all levels of New Zealand’s political ecosystem: Members of Parliament, Ministers, advisors, officials, regulators and everyone in between. For more information visit their website here: https://hsbgovernmentrelations.nz.


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