One of the most effective ways to express your democratic right is to write to your local Member of Parliament. But how do you make your letter or email stand out? Here are a few simple tips for maximising the impact of your correspondence.
How to address the letter
For letters, put your own address in the top right hand corner and the name and address of the MP or Senator underneath on the left hand. Make sure you include the date. It’s important to use the right title in your email or letter. There are a number of protocols for the proper titles to be used on envelopes and in the salutation. The Parliament of Australia website has a guide for how to address Senators and MPs, including the Prime Minister, Ministers and other parliamentarians with special roles.
What to include in your letter
Correspondence to MPs should be short and simple, especially if you are sending an email. For letters, one page is best and two pages is normally the maximum length. Try to limit the letter to just one issue. Make sure you set out your arguments logically and concisely, and make one point per paragraph. The letter should begin with an explanation of who you are and why you are writing to them. Focus on just one issue. If you are a member of their electorate, make this clear. If you are writing on behalf of your congregation or a small group, or if you have a particular connection to the issue you are writing about, mention this connection. Make sure you are clear about the facts on the issue you are writing about. If there have been recent changes to legislation or other political developments on the issue, mention this to show that your information is up to date. State the facts clearly, and then what, in your view, needs to change and why. If you have detailed information that you would like to share, include it separately, as an attachment or enclosure or refer your MP to a website, article or book where they can get more information. If you are writing to express your concern about the position your MP or their party has taken on an issue or with something they have said, clearly and respectfully state your concern, disappointment or disagreement. Being polite and respectful in your letter is far more likely to achieve positive results than being insulting, aggressive or even abusive. To end your letter, be specific about what you would like them to do about the issue or concern you have raised. This could include any number of actions from voting for or against something in parliament to attending a local event. Finish by writing that you look forward to receiving a reply.
After the letter
Your letter will serve as the first step in a conversation but you may have to be a little patient in waiting for a reply. If you have not received a response to your letter after a month, call the MP’s electoral office to remind them about your letter and politely ask when you are likely to receive a response. If you do not receive a response within a fortnight of your call, try again and keep trying until the response comes. Remember, your MP is your representative and one of the most important tasks of political representatives is communicating with their constituents.
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