Proposals can normally be influenced only at the embryonic stage. For organised labour and business to produce sophisticated submissions, proposals must be studied, branches and members briefed, feedback collated, research undertaken, findings processed and evaluated, and formal responses produced.
Since this cannot be done in the one or two months usually allowed, the best they can do is a rushed job or nothing.
Two processes illustrate the problem. Last week, the Treasury held a sugar tax "workshop", this week the Department of Trade and Industry held a Liquor Bill "consultation", both at the behest of the anticonsumer health department.
Despite assurances that officialdom wanted to "listen and learn", victims were told their fate – not honestly and unambiguously, but in language that concealed more than was revealed.
Liquor producers and traders were told they had nothing to fear because only new licence applicants would be curtailed. They were not told that technically unlawful outlets — that is, most outlets — would be shut. Black delegates were promised racial "empowerment".
The truth is that most or all new production and trade will be banned.
All officialdom would "listen" to were single questions without substantive contributions.