It’s pretty hard to feel genuinely engaged with politics. When the major news of the day is the PM maniacally wolfing down a vegetable, or worse yet, one of Bill Shorten’s trademark quote unquote zingers, it’s a struggle to take things seriously. Politicians often seem like an altogether different species from us plebs, while their motives and actions can range from the bewildering to the deeply concerning. You begin to wonder what they’re thinking.
But what can you actually do about this? The other day a buddy of mine convinced me to write a letter to our local MP. We were both fed up about the Govt’s stance on [REDACTED] and wanted answers. Sure, sending a letter is a little old-fashioned, but it has its advantages. Unlike a tweet or an email or – dare I say it – an online petition, a letter is a physical thing. It has to be held and looked at and considered by another person. They can’t simply hit ‘delete’ or block you for having sent it – they have to read it before they can ignore it. Doomed is the Minister who ignores her demented constituents. Plus, chances are your local MP is a no-name backbencher with time on their hands – they’ll be grateful for the attention.
Keeping that in mind, here a few tips on how to write to your MP:
Get their title right: Communicating with politicians is a minefield of empty niceties and antiquated formalities. For instance, when addressing your letter, you must include the designation ‘MP’ after the Member’s name, along with whatever portfolios they might hold. On the plus side, this will appeal to their inherent vanity and soften them up.
Be succinct: Stick to one issue (asylum seekers, the Budget, dubious Game of Thrones predictions) and keep it to about a page in length. After all, these are MPs we’re talking about. They have limited capacity for critical thinking.
Be polite: As tempting as it may be, you can’t call your parliamentary representative a cunt. Doing so will only detract from the issue and in all likelihood get you placed on some sort of criminal list. If you’re angry, use your words. Respect begets respect.
Know your shit: Read up on the issue you care about, and work it into your letter. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to show them you’re no mug. Stats, figures, quotes – whatever helps express your concerns coherently.
And finally, have patience. If your representative is worth their salt, their reply will be forthcoming.
Information about contacting your parliamentary representative (along with a guide to using the correct titles) can be found at www.aph.gov.au.
Words by Matt Green