One of the best ways of lobbying parliamentarians
is meeting them face to face. If every child care centre in NSW met with
their local State MP, we could directly influence the views of most parliamentarians
It is important to be informed about the person
with whom you are to meet, including the parliamentarian's name, political
party and electorate, and what their margin was at the last election.
Most MPs have electorate offices in their constituencies.
Addresses and phone numbers are in back of this kit.
Usually a phone call to the electorate office will be all that’s
required, but you may be asked to put your request in writing. A short
letter outlining who you are and what you want to talk about is all that
is needed. If necessary follow this letter with a phone call. Your phone
call may also give you an opportunity to make contact with the MP’s
staff. Speak to them about the issues and leave material with them. Staff
are important in reporting back the mood of the electorate. Suggest that
you may be prepared to get a speaker for their next local party meeting.
Know what you’re talking about. You don’t need to be an expert
— most politicians aren’t, but you do need to be prepared
for the sort of questions they are likely to ask. (Knowing what party
they are from helps you predict the views they are likely to hold.)
Take with you a briefing paper or information sheet. It is a useful way
of maintaining a focus during the meeting. It serves as a reminder to
you as to the points you wish to cover and it serves to remind the MP
after you have gone, just what was discussed and what action your group
wants of him/her. (Use this sheet when preparing your briefing.)
Make sure you also understand enough about the political system and process
not to make mistakes as your MP may use these to undermine what you are
saying This will suggest what strategy and arguments you might use to
Three is an ideal number for a delegation. Having others to share the
discussion as well as to take notes can be invaluable.
Be presentable and respect formalities. Make sure everyone in your delegation
knows where the parliamentarian's office is and meet outside fifteen minutes
early. Be articulate and concise. Don’t get sidetracked. Be friendly
and polite. Find out the parliamentarian’s views on the ratio issue.
This is important.
Don’t speak for too long. Remember, you
are aiming to open up a dialogue and get them to do something about your
concerns. Listen to what they say and be prepared to start from their
position. Give them good political reasons why they should be prepared
to take a stand on ratios.
Remember, they like numbers, so be familiar with
any useful statistics.
If you are asked a question which you cannot answer, say you don’t
know and arrange to get back to them with an answer. Ask them what they
would be prepared to do. It is very important that you are able to draw
a commitment from them that means you will have to get back in touch,
and vice versa. Ask them what they would be prepared to do to take the
issue further. Would they be prepared to:
- make a public statement,
- talk to the Minister or Premier on your behalf,
or write a letter raising your concerns,
- talk to a fellow MP,
- ask a question in Parliament,
- raise the issue at a Party Meeting?
Regardless of the meeting’s outcome, thank
them again for the opportunity to meet them and to air your concerns.
Leave them a summary of your concerns.
Good follow up is essential.
1. Follow up
If you have promised further information, ensure that it gets there as
soon as possible. Make sure the Parliamentarian honours any commitment
to you. If you don’t hear anything within a week or so, phone or
write and keep on until it’s resolved.
Talk it over with your group. Discuss what worked, what didn’t,
and what could be done better.
3. Communicate with Community Child Care
This is important so that we know who has been seen and what sort of response
we’re getting. This feedback is essential for a successful strategic
Adapted from ANTaR Federal Election Kit 2001