Welcome to the autumn edition of The Shell for 2019.

It has been an exciting time for political junkies in Australia over the last few months.

Our previous edition of The Shell was released immediately after the Federal Wentworth by-election and in the final days of the Victorian State election campaign.

The Federal Coalition was left bloodied in Sydney’s eastern suburbs when independent Dr Kerryn Phelps wrested the seat off the Liberal Party following the resignation of recently-dumped Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. This result augured badly for the Federal Morrison Government, which faces voters next month.

A matter of days after The Shell came out, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was comfortably returned to power on the back of a positive campaign that focused on investment in critical infrastructure in the Garden State, contrasted by a negative campaign from the Coalition led by Matthew Guy.

The Liberal’s bloodletting in Canberra was blamed in part on the poor Victorian result but much can be made of Labor’s positive message.

This wouldn’t have been lost on the NSW Berejiklian Government, which went to the polls last month, seeking something no Liberal-led government had achieved in the State in nearly 50 years – a third consecutive term in Government.

While a disastrous final week probably cost Labor leader Michael Daley crucial votes, the sense in NSW was that Gladys Berejiklian’s team – much like Labor in Victoria – was doing things and hadn’t done enough wrong to deserve to be turfed out.

However, the big lesson out of the NSW Election was the disastrous result by the Liberal’s junior coalition partner The Nationals, which lost the western NSW seats of Barwon and Murray to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party.

There is a huge schism in Australia between rural and regional voters and city dwellers, which the policy hard heads need to address. The reemergence of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is a symptom of this.

As my Co-CEO, Alexandra Mayhew Hills explains in our lead story, “How shooters, fishers and farmers tapped a well of resentment to reshape the political landscape”, water management is going to be a major issue at next month’s federal election. This is something that most urban dwellers knew little about until their TV screens and Twitter feeds were filled recently with images of thousands of dead fish in a drought-ravaged Darling River.

In a similar vein, Account Executive Larissa Jaffe (page 6) looks at the rise of grassroots political movements and how they shape the voting patterns of young Australians. As Larissa highlights, the Keep Sydney Open party was a major disruptor at the NSW Election, taking crucial votes off the Greens and Labor. Activists groups GetUp! and the recently formed Advance Australia will play a significant role in the Federal Election.

Social media will play an increased role in the Federal Election as politicians seek to reach audiences that have abandoned traditional media channels. In this edition, I write about the challenges of changing political attitudes on platforms more akin to echo chambers than forums for civilised debate (page 9).

Keeping with the election theme, Account Manager Isabelle Walker, runs a critical eye over the candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination to run against President Trump in the 2020 US Presidential election (page 12).

You may recall in our last issue, then Account Executive, Stav Pisk, wrote about our part pro-bono client Youth Insearch and its work tackling youth suicide. In this edition Stav – now promoted to Account Manager – writes about our Youth Insearch Blue Heart campaign. This campaign utilised social media influencers and saw our Federal politicians wear Blue Heart lapel badges on the floor of Parliament (page 16).

We have heard a lot about the bad behaviour of banks in recent times. Associate Director Kathy Lindsay relays a more promising anecdote about her experience as a bank customer post Royal Commission (page 18).

On the international front, David Croasdale Managing Director at our China partners – through our membership of IPREX – Newell PR, examines Australia’s relationship with the Middle Kingdom and argues Australia needs to pivot some more toward the north (page 20), with the One Belt One Road initiative presenting an excellent opportunity to build a deeper relationship with China as a strategic partner.

Thank you for reading our latest edition of The Shell – we certainly enjoyed putting it together for you!

Benjamin Haslem, Co-CEO