04 August


Laney McLaren’s report to Convention

By ED_Admin 2013 Bursary No Comments

The Enid Dowling Foundation Bursary’s mission is to support exceptional individual initiative, innovation and leadership to advance the social or economic development of Queenslanders, and to promote public service and engagement in the political process.

In 2013 I was honoured to be selected as an inaugural recipient of the Enid Dowling Foundation Bursary along with my good friend for many years Tasmin Trezise.  It was so pleasing to see two proud Far North Queenslander’s selected.

With the input and guidance of the Enid Dowling Foundation trustees, I prepared an itinerary that would see me spend around six weeks in the United States.

In April 2014 I set off to meet with political consultants, work on a Senate campaign and spend time with other conservative campaigns.  I would be making my way to Washington DC, and then heading west to Okahoma, Texas and California.

On arrival in Washington DC I attended the CampaignTech East conference.  CampaignTech East is a biannual event that brings together some of the movers and shakers in the political digital space in the United States. It was a great opportunity to hear from and connect with experienced campaigners from across the United States.

Whilst I was in DC I met with Zac Moffatt from Targeted Victory.  It was great to meet someone who I had received emails so regularly from during the 2012 Presidential race.  Zac was digital director for Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaign, and he shared plenty of advice on where the trends are moving.  Zac was born in Townsville – and had a keen interest in meeting with a representative from the LNP in Queensland.

I also met with numerous other campaign consultancies whilst in Washington DC.  It was an invaluable opportunity to build relationships and learn from the best.

After a few weeks in Washington DC, I travelled west to Oklahoma.

A friend of mine was a consultant on TW Shannon’s campaign for a Republican Senate vacancy.  At 36, Shannon is an up-and-coming star in the GOP, and the first African-American and also youngest speaker in the State Legislature.

I was generously offered an opportunity to work on TW’s campaign and spend some time in the beautiful state of Oklahoma.

Oklahomans are renowned for their friendliness and hospitality, and my experience was certainly confirmation of that.  From the moment I stepped foot in the state I had a home to stay in and all arrangements taken care of.  I stayed with the Holland family, who were so generous to take me in.  Fount Holland is the co-founder of the consultancy that worked on the same campaign, and it was a real treat to be able to spend time with him sharing ideas and learning about one another’s political systems.

During my stay in Oklahoma, Tea Party “rockstars” US Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee joined with Governor Sarah Palin to endorse the candidate I was working for.  Our campaign was hosting a rally with these two high profile politicians to build momentum in the month leading up to the vote.

I had the privilege of spending some time with Governor Palin and Senator Cruz at the Rally – both of which were very pleased to be meeting an Australian in the middle of Oklahoma.

I’ve been involved in more political events than I can remember, but never to something that captured this much energy and enthusiasm around a candidate – it was a privilege to be a part of putting it together and I know that T.W. Shannon has a very bright future ahead.

A few weeks later I went south to the great state of Texas. I had connected with a digital consultant called Vincent Harris in Washington DC and he had reached out to me to visit and learn from his team in Austin, Texas.

Whilst in Texas I also met with the Greg Abbott for Governor campaign.  Greg Abbott is the republican nominee for the Texas gubernatorial election in November 2014.

The sign on the door of the Greg Abbott campaign reads “Fast cars, firearms and freedom”.  Those words neatly summed up my exposure to the Republican Party in Texas!

On the home stretch, I spent a several days in Los Angeles.  I arranged to meet with one of the curators of the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy.  I was particularly interested in meeting with the National Centre as there is a lot of overlap with the work it does and the values of the Enid Dowling Foundation.  The National Center partners with schools, educators and community groups and mentors to inspire youth to become “active, informed participants in shaping democracy in America.

Lynn from the National Center was very interested to learn about the Enid Dowling Foundation and my time as a recipient travelling abroad.  Seeing first hand work of the National Center was certainly a very fitting was to tie together some of the experiences I’d had over the previous weeks.

On my final day in Los Angeles, I also had the privilege of meeting another incredible organisation: Homeboy Industries.  Homeboy Industries is a comprehensive gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program.  It takes high risk, gang involved men and women off the street and provides them with on the job training in hospitality and retail.  It offers services for tattoo removal and legal and education services – just to name a few.  Homeboy Industries works with the private sector to engage corporate sponsorship.  It is a thriving organization that manages to tackle some of the biggest social issues facing the city of LA.

Being a recipient of the Enid Dowling Foundation certainly opened doors for me during my travel in the United States. It has allowed me the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world and establish relationships that have and continue to help me grow professionally and personally.

It was an incredible opportunity to build confidence, connect with and reflect on myself, my own direction, thoughts and values, and I hope Enid Dowling would be proud of my journey.

To the Trustees and Patrons, thank you for the opportunity.  I’d like to particularly thank Wendy Armstrong for her support and encouragement throughout this journey.

My sincere thanks to the late Deane Stahmann and his wife Helen for their generosity.  Deane and Helen are the inaugural donors to the Enid Dowling Foundation Bursary. My journey would not have been possible without them.

–  Delivered Saturday, 12 July 2014 to LNP Convention, Brisbane.


About Laney

Born and raised in the cane fields of Far North Queensland, Laney is a passionate Queenslander and proud conservative.

She moved to Brisbane in 2008 to commence her university education at the University of Queensland where she was active in student organisations and campus life.

Currently Laney is a Campaign Officer for the Liberal National Party and has worked for our Party in the professional wing during the 2012 State Election and 2013 Federal Election.  She will be working to see the re-election of the Newman LNP Government in 2015, specifically focusing on the LNP’s digital campaign and operations.

Laney can be contacted privately at