Inaugural speeches are sometimes seen as a quaint ‘show-and-tell’ for new Members of Parliament, attended by their family, friends and campaign workers they need to thank for helping them get elected. However, whether you listen to a new Member’s speech on the day or dig it up years down the track, inaugural speeches are an invaluable source of intelligence.

Last year, Advoc8 interviewed Ed Martin, Chief of Staff to the Hon. Melinda Pavey, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight. Asked about effective techniques for advocates to enhance their engagement with a Ministerial office, Ed highlighted the inaugural speech:

“First and foremost it’s imperative industry advocates get a deeper understanding of the Minister that they’re meeting with. Reading a Member of Parliament’s maiden speech or first major speech as a Minister will give them an insight into the person that they are meeting, what their values are, their background and history.”

So why are inaugural speeches so important for advocates?

Insight

As Ed alluded to, a politician’s first speech is a window into what drives them. It paints a picture of what motivates them, what issues concern them, what their personal values are and who they hold in high regard. Knowing ‘who’ you are meeting provides crucial insight that may impact the approach you take and the issues you raise.

Identify the up-and-comers

Assessing a new crop of politicians is an opportunity to make an educated guess at the rising stars, those likely to ascend to Ministerial roles within a new government. Reviewing the delivery and content of a new MP’s speech can provide insight into who may be worth keeping a close eye on going forward.

Advocacy champion

Listening to new MPs’ inaugural speeches can also help identify potential advocacy allies for your campaign work. For example, if you’re advocating for increased aged care funding, and an MP reveals in their first speech that this is an issue of deep personal concern for them, they could become an important champion for your cause within the government or opposition.

Show you’re interested

Reviewing a Minister or backbencher’s first speech when planning to meet with them can provide useful information that can be referred to in your meeting; ‘Minister, I noticed in your maiden speech you mentioned…’. Even if this isn’t crucial to your advocacy, indicating to the Minister that you have read their inaugural speech shows you have taken the time to research their background and are committed to forming a good working relationship.

Not all inaugural speeches are going to yield nuggets of advocacy gold, but ignore them at your peril - they may contain just what you need to make your advocacy campaign shine.