Letters are one of the most simple and effective ways to engage your Member of Parliament (MP) about an issue you care about.
Don’t put it off any longer – learn how to write to your MP today!
Use the correct title for your MP
Find your MP’s correct title and contact details here, in the document titled Mail Labels for Members: All Members Electorate Offices.
Set out the name and address of your MP in the top left hand corner of the page. As a general rule: MPs should be addressed ‘Mr/Mrs/Dr/Ms, first name initial, last name, MP’. For example:
Dr A. Aly MP
Member for Cowan
PO Box 219
Kingsway WA 6065
Politicians who have been or are government ministers will have the title “The Honourable” prefixing their name. For example, Hon A. N. Albanese MP.
Start your letter as follows: ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘Dear Mr/Mrs/Dr/Ms Last Name’.
Introduce yourself and your issue
Start the letter by telling your MP who you are and why you are writing to them – make sure you have a specific and focused purpose. Climate topics relevant to your federal MP may include: carbon pricing, the renewable energy target, Direct Action, and emissions reduction targets. Be concise, not vague. In your opening sentence, mention that you are a constituent (a voter!). MPs tend to care more about the people they represent. Remember, they are there to represent you.
State the facts
Recognise and thank your MP for the positive steps that have already been taken in this area. Then articulate the fact that the action being taken is insufficient. Clearly state the facts that highlight the need for urgent further action. Why should they act? Be brief and objective, utilising scientific data to persuade rather than hyperbole or embellishment. You need to tell them, what needs to change and why?
Add a personal touch
Explain why the issue is important to you. Include a relevant personal anecdote or experience. This will help make the issue real and tangible for your MP. Storytelling used in conjunction with statistics is crucial in advocacy as it connects the head and the heart of your MP – helping them understand the need for change both rationally and emotionally. Inform them that their stance on this issue affects the way you vote. Also express that others within your electorate care about this issue.
Tell the MP what you would like them to do
To bring about change, you need facts and anecdotes about the issue, but ultimately, you need action. Be clear on what action you want your MP to take. This could include actions such as making a speech in parliament, raising the issue at a meeting, voting for or against something in parliament, or attending a local event.
Finish the letter by saying that you look forward to receiving their reply. Provide your contact details so the MP can respond. Be patient as you wait for a reply – politicians lead busy lives! Wait one month, then call your MP’s office to remind them of your letter and ask when you may expect a response. If you still don’t hear back from them for another two weeks, try again. Be both persistent and polite.
Three key tips:
Keep it brief
Letters should be no longer than one page and should be about one issue only. Be as concise as possible. Politicians receive hundreds of letters from constituents every day. Long letters are likely to be put aside.
Be passionate and polite
MPs are likely to be more receptive to a polite letter, and more engaged based on the passion of your writing. Remember that your MP is a human, not just a name on paper.
Make your letter stand out!
Your goal is to make your letter stand out and be noticeable. This can be achieved through referring to a recent related news story, or offering to provide a positive photo opportunity for your MP during their campaign. This can be articulated, ‘If you support a stronger Renewable Energy Target, I would like to meet with you so that we can do some local media on the issue, perhaps holding this sign together’ [insert picture of ‘I support the RET’ sign here].
Read an example of a letter to an MP here.
Written by Anastasia Yule