The REIV’s government relations strategy has always been to act in the best interests of our membership and profession, actively engage with all major political parties and, wherever possible, remain policy-focused and politically impartial.
The REIV believed it had good working relationships with most of the key ministers throughout the term of the previous Victorian state government, and fully expected to make no communication throughout the 2014 election campaign. However, the move to commence the deregulation of our industry on the eve of an election was the first step to a complete deregulation. This was a policy which had national implications, and support from several lobby groups who stand to benefit, as well as some competition regulators.
Of course, deregulation of our industry is not just a threat to our members and our profession. It is a threat to tenants and purchasers who rely on the inbuilt protection that the legislation and our high professional standards dictate. The proposed regulatory changes were clearly also a danger to small business, the backbone of the Victorian economy.
I reluctantly but resolutely came to the view that this was such an existential threat to our profession that nothing short of a full throated response would counter the threat. I knew that our only chance of victory was to take our case to the public and make it a broader issue.
Several senior Liberal figures made it clear to me confidentially that some key people in the government had decided that the REIV members were “a natural constituency and that we would be unable to make a case to reverse the policy because real estate agents are not popular.”
In retrospect, our strategy was the correct one and was implemented in the best interests of the issue facing not just our commercial and industrial members, but our entire profession.