Barton Deakin stands to earn millions in consultancy fees if the federal election results in a coalition victory. Photo: Tamara Voninski
THE MOST powerful lobbying firm in Canberra would shrink to almost nothing and be replaced by its ''evil twin'' if the Gillard government lost the election.
An estimated 27 out of 30 Hawker Britton staff would lose their jobs because the firm hitches its wagon so firmly to Labor.
''It sucks,'' said Hawker Britton managing director Justin Di Lollo when asked what it was like for a politically aligned lobby firm when its side lost an election.
Lobby group Barton Deakin, loyal to the Coalition and jokingly referred to as ''the evil twin'' by Mr Di Lollo, would most likely replace Hawker Britton as the biggest PR firm after a change of government.
This mean that no matter the election outcome, there would be one winner ready to reap the profits from millions of dollars in consulting fees.
Hawker Britton and Barton Deakin - despite despising the politics the other stands for -- are both mostly owned by the STW Group.
The publicly-listed company founded by John Singleton, no longer a majority shareholder, is able to play both sides of politics profitably. If there are losers when the government changes it is the individual lobbyists from politically aligned firms, who are paid between $2000 to $20,000 a month by each client in their portfolio -- and they can have numerous clients.
If Labor loses the election, Hawker Britton lobbyists cannot switch sides to Barton Deakin and they would not want to anyway.
They may find work elsewhere in STW, which owns 75 marketing and public relations companies.
''It's very hard for a company like us to get real work done in opposition,'' Mr Di Lollo said.
A few could become politicians. Former Hawker Britton lobbyists include Western Sydney MP David Bradbury, NSW Labor secretary Sam Dastyari as well as NSW upper house member Walt Secord. High-profile Hawker Britton lobbyist Simon Banks, often seen on ABC's The Drum, will probably stay with the company if Labor loses.
So will others doing state-based Labor lobbying in Adelaide, where there is a Labor government and Melbourne in the lead-up to next year's Victorian election.
The company's political donations, totalling $277,000 to Labor in the past four years, will dry to a trickle, if they flow at all.
Presumably Barton Deakin's donations, totalling $81,000 in four years to the Coalition, would increase as business boomed.
''In the world of politics, if you try to be everyone's friend you will be no one's best friend,'' Mr Di Lollo said.
He said experiencing the same pain as a political party gave a lobbying firm a cultural stakehold.
Hawker Britton's 111 clients, ranging from the Broadband Industry Group to the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce and defence company Raytheon Australia, will be offered the chance to move accounts to Barton Deakin if Labor loses.
About 70 per cent of clients would be expected to make the move, based on past experience.
Many companies using lobbying firms are winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in government tenders.
Since the 2010 election, Barton Deakin has received more work than other opposition-aligned lobby groups historically because of the hung parliament, according to managing director Matthew Hingerty.
''In Canberra we have Grahame Morris, former chief of staff to John Howard, and David Alexander, former senior policy adviser to Peter Costello,'' he said.
''I have served in the Greiner, Fahey, O'Farrell and Howard governments and have been a card-carrying member of the Liberal Party for nearly 25 years.''
There is also Shaughn Morgan, former chief executive of the conservative NSW Farmers Association, while former NSW treasurer and opposition leader Peter Collins is Barton Deakin's chairman.