Lobbying and Agenda Setting: Whose Interests are Served, How and Why?

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Lobbying and advising the government are part of the democratic process. Sometimes the interests being served are clear, yet at others they are hidden. Sometimes stories are told to make the outcomes desired easier to understand, and more likely, while at others the narrative serves to shroud the real outcomes desired and undermine democratic processes. In this presentation, the cases of consultants advising governments and the OECD on tax avoidance and LGBTQ+ lobbying are used to tease out some of these tensions. In the case of the former, the role of the Big Four (PwC, EY, KPMG and Deloitte) is used to illustrate how interests potentially undermine desirable outcomes. In the case of the latter, lobbyists and lobbying were essential in driving desirable change.

Moderator: Professor Gaby Ramia


  • Associate Professor John Mikler: John is an Associate Professor in the Discipline of Government and International Relations. He researches corporations’ relations with states, civil society and international organisations, as well as how they are political actors in their own right. His recent books include The Political Power of Global Corporations (Polity 2018); MNCs in Global Politics: Pathways of Influence (co-edited with Karsten Ronit, Edward Elgar 2020); and Capitalism for All: Realising its Liberal Promise (co-authored with Neil E. Harrison, SUNY 2022). In addition to researching climate change and capitalism, he is currently part of a team examining the politics of global corporate tax avoidance, including with Ainsley Elbra (University of Sydney) and Hannah Murphy-Gregory (University of Tasmania) on the role of the Big Four professional services firms PwC, EY, KPMG and Deloitte.
  • Dr Chris Pepin-Neff: Chris is a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy in the Discipline of Government and International Relations. Previous to academia, Chris was the first lobbyist for the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law and policy in the US. They also worked to allow all openly trans military service. They founded Q Street, the LGBTQI lobbying association of Washington, DC in 2003. They were also a senate staffer for US Senators John Warner (R-VA) and Harry Reid (D-NV), and has worked on four presidential campaigns. Chris is the author of the 2021 book “LGBTQ Lobbying in the United States” which was published by Routledge in 2021. In 2023, they were published in Scientific American looking at trans rights.

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