Greg S

Secretary @ Effective Altruism Australia
Working (6-15 years of experience)
21Canberra ACT, AustraliaJoined Sep 2022

Bio

Participation
3

I'm the Secretary of Effective Altruism Australia and founder of Effective Altruism Australia: Environment. 

After 15~ years in the Australian national security community, including in the Prime Minister's Department and as a senior adviser to the Home Affairs Minister, I now work full-time advocating for longtermist policies in Australia.  

 

How others can help me

I think meaningful responses to GCRs and other long-term priorities requires coordinated multilateral policy effort. If you're working in policy , I'd love you to reach out and talk about your priorities and traction points. 

I'm also keen to talk to everyone in Australia (and the region). Policy change shouldn't be just a few people on the hill. There are ways for everyone in the community to be empowered. You might be surprised at the impact a single person can have if armed with the right information, contact and timing. 

How I can help others

I have connections in the Australian public service. If you're after an impactful policy career I can put you in touch with the right people to get started, including for mid and late career opportunities.
 

Comments
3

I’m glad this is (currently) the top-voted comment. I’ve reviewed the evidence StrongMinds offers up and find it relatively persuasive. But every page yells “offer this in wealthy countries and you’ll do good and do well at the same time.” A quick google suggests that the global ‘market’ for mental health is in the order of $400b. And this intervention seems significantly better than anything else currently in the market. Shouldn’t this be a multi-billion-dollar company being snapped up by pharma giants? 

I guess that outcome seems so wild that it generates doubt about the original claim. I’d like to know the additional detail that contextualises that. 

Thanks for this post, it’s helpful to step through the challenges and the state of the research. I’d make three observations:

1) Dwelling on what ‘lobbying success’ or ‘policy success’ means in detail might be relevant.

  • In my on-the-ground experience (including being lobbied and lobbying) people rarely ask for what they want. They’re making an opening bid, and there’s a range of (hidden) outcomes that are still success criteria. If a lobbyist overtly asks for X and gets 1/2X or Y – you’d need insight into their actual strategy and their assessment of best case / worst case and most-likely case outcomes. Did they only want 1/2X and asked for X anticipating giving ground over time?
     
  • Additionally, I’ve seen ‘policy success’ where a parliament passes a law that an interest group sought. The interest group then tends to move on to the next Bill. Meanwhile, executive government can ‘white-ant’ that law behind the scenes (never passing supporting regulations, not funding implementation, only doing the action for a year or two until people move on and then letting implementation fade into obscurity etc). That shouldn’t feel like success to EAs, but it might pass as success in a naïve study. 

 

2) The lens of ‘neglectedness’ might be particularly relevant to how EAs want to engage in lobbying. The observation in the post that many issues have many organisations lobbying at them from different directions accords with my experience. It might be interesting to try and study the intensity of lobbying around a range of issues. In my experience (in Australia) there is a huge lobbying storm and public focus on a small number of high-profile issues, many issues have ‘the usual suspects’ come out (like a peak industry group etc), and other issues are of no apparent interest to anyone. 

It might not be too difficult to research how lobbying effort is spread across the range of matters that could be lobbied for. I’m not a designer of research methodologies – but my bet would be that only 1-5% of legislation is ever mentioned in major media publications, and only a fraction of that would get sustained attention across multiple outlets. I’d guess in Australia that 50% of legislation is never mentioned anywhere in print media / internet outlets outside of government websites themselves. (These being accessible proxies for the conversations that are happening on the hill.) Perhaps if EAs target tail-end issues that align with EA priorities, we could find high-impact opportunities where we are the only voice and hence escape many of the challenges this post rightly highlights. 

3) I like the Woll 2019 observation that: “[a] business can also have substantial structural power due to the popularity of its products with consumers. When a product is perceived as important by consumers, the line between a business's commercial activity and political activity becomes blurred. In this case, deliberate activity like lobbying may not be a useful way to think about political influence.”

This might be another useful way for EAs to think about political influence. That is, if EA issues are seen as popular with a segment of the public, we can blur the line between “EAs being passionate about X” and “intentional lobbying for X”. That might be another way for us to slide past the usual battlelines of lobbying. 

Thanks again for the post. 

Hello, at your suggestion the first thing I did after making an account was to post a bio. Thanks for the guidance!