How to Write an Effective Letter to your MP

29.03.18 By

Contacting your Member of Parliament (MP) will help strengthen the voice for climate change action in Australia by letting them know what you care about and why you think some decisions are better than others.

Our MPs are there to listen to the views of the public, understand your perspective, and represent you in Parliament. The more people who contact their local MP on a given topic (e.g. climate change), the more likely this matter will be raised. As one of their constituents, your opinion holds a lot of weight, as based on your vote, they will win or lose elections.

Letters are one of the most simple and effective ways to engage your Member of Parliament about an issue you care about.

Don’t put it off any longer – learn how to write to your MP today!

Who do I contact?

You can search for your local member and find out how to contact them here. While it is most effective to contact your local MP, you could also consider contacting your state’s Senators or the Minister whose portfolio relates to your topic area (e.g. Environment Minister or Energy Minister).

Make sure you use your MP’s correct title and contact details. You can find them 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. 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.

What do I write?

If you’re unsure about the content of the letter, a great place to start is one of the Climate Council’s reports. Our reports are packed with quick and reliable information about climate change, extreme weather impacts, climate solutions and energy policy. Including facts will strengthen your argument and help get your point across in a more convincing manner.

Some topics that you might want to write to your federal MP about include pushing for stronger renewable energy targets, Australia’s rising greenhouse gas emissions, or the impact of climate change on intensifying extreme weather events. Make sure that you’re concise and not vague.

If your MP has made any positive steps in this area, you can thank them for the action they have already taken. Then articulate what else you would like them to do. 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

It’s important to explain why the issue is important to you. You can do this by including 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. Also let them know that their stance on this issue affects the way you vote. You can also emphasise that others within your electorate care about this issue as well.

For example, you could share how you’ve been impacted by the drought or bushfires, which are intensifying as a result of climate change. Or you could share about why taking action on climate change is important to you. Or describe the type of Australia that you would like to see.

Include an Ask

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.

While presenting facts and information is important, your letter is more effective if you can ask your MP to take a specific action as well. Some actions that you might ask your MP to take:

Follow up

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.

SEE OUR TEMPLATE HERE

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. A lengthy message that covers lots of unrelated topics is more likely to be overlooked. In contrast; a concise and focused letter can be a powerful one.

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 by 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 stronger renewable energy targets, I would like to meet with you so that we can do some local media on the issue’.

Keen to discover other ways you can use the power of your voice? Check out Chapter 2 in our Climate Action Toolkit.