How to write to Federal politicians

Discussion in 'Politics, News, Media, Campaigns' started by Judith, Apr 22, 2016.

  1. Judith

    Judith Mostly harmless

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Tasmania
    With 2 July looming as a possible date for the next Federal elections it is a good time to write to politicians to ask them about their views on vaping because they will be paying attention to what voters actually want. Do not copy and paste from other sources as it could be obvious and it is far more powerful to write you own words even if you are not a confident writer. Years ago a handwritten or typed letter was considered to be worth the opinion of 200 or more people so when you write you are making the effort for the other 199 who won't bother and for the many thousands of smokers who's lives you will be helping to save.

    Addresses for Politicians

    This link gives a search function so you can search for your local Member of the House of Representatives and the Senators for your state. When you find them you can click on their name to get all contact information.

    Forms of Address

    This link gives information on how various Members of Parliament should be addressed when you are writing to them. How to address Senators and Members.


    Electronic Frontiers Australia has a wealth of information and the following is taken almost directly from their page.
    1. Include your name and address: Identify yourself as a constituent by including your address when you write to your elected representative/s. Generally, politicians are likely to pay most attention to people who live in their electoral district.
    2. 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 many letters on many topics every day. Long letters are likely to be put aside to read on a less busy day and that day may never come.
    3. Use your own words, not someone else's: An original letter sent by one single person is more effective than a form letter (or cut and pasted texts) sent by dozens of people. Even if your writing skills are not the best, a letter written in your own words will carry much more weight than regurgitating what some else said.
    4. Handwrite, or type and sign, your letter: A handwritten, or typed and signed, letter is far more effective than photocopied form letters, postcard campaigns or emails. Some politicians regard handwritten letters more highly than typewritten letters (some of these are technologically illiterate, and some find it convenient to claim the sender probably just cut and pasted what someone else said without thinking about the issue themself). Some, very likely many, regard emails as "second class mail" and some do not even read email.
    5. State the topic clearly: Include a subject line at the beginning of your letter. If it is about a specific piece of legislation (an Act) or a proposed law (a Bill), state the full name of the Act or Bill in the subject line, or at least in the first paragraph.
    6. Start with a clear statement of purpose: For example:
      "I am writing to urge your support for / opposition to..."
      "I am writing to ask you to support / oppose ..."
    7. Focus on three important points: Choose the three points that are most likely to be persuasive in gaining support for your position and flesh them out. This is more effective than attempting to address numerous points in a letter.
    8. Ask your representative to take concrete action: For example, in relation to a proposed law (a Bill), ask them to raise the matter in their party room and seek to have their party oppose the Bill. Point out that the issues are important enough to warrant amendments to the Bill, and/or for the representative to cross the floor and vote against the Bill if their party supports it.
    9. Ask for a response to your letter: While the response will usually be a form letter, written and authorised by their political party, you will know you have had an impact on their office. Party politics in Australia are such that few elected politicians are likely to tell you whether or not they personally share your views/position. However, a well-written letter can be instrumental in prompting them to take action behind the public scenes to inform and potentially change their political party's position.
    10. Personalise your letter: When possible, include a personal story and/or information on how the issue affects you, your family, your business, or people around you. This can help your representative understand your position and can be very persuasive as he/she forms a position on an issue. The more personal your letter, the more impact it is likely to have.
    11. Personalise your relationship: If you have ever voted for the representative, or contributed time or money to their election campaign, or have met them, etc, say so. The closer your representative feels to you, the more effective your letter is likely to be.
    12. Be polite: Be courteous, but don't be afraid to take a firm position. While your representative's job is to represent you, remember that politicians and their staff are people too. Threats, hostile remarks and rude/offensive language are among the fastest ways to alienate people who could otherwise decide to support your position in light of rational and reasoned argument. Your representative could be in elected office for decades, and could be promoted to higher, more influential, office within their party. Avoid creating enemies.
    13. Thanks is as important as criticism: Politicians/political parties need to be able to tell the 'other side' that they have been inundated with calls and letters supporting their position. Write thank you letters to politicians/parties that you know support your position. This will encourage them to stand firm on their position rather than backing down, which has often happened during the passage of proposed laws through Australian parliaments.
    14. Keep the irritation factor low: Avoid accusing/criticising the wrong politicians/party. Politicians, like anyone else, may become irritated when accused of holding views they do not. If you are not sure of the views of the person or political party you are contacting, either research the matter, ask them, or just inform them of your views and why they should support same.
    For information on how to address a letter to a member of Parliament, see Forms of Address above.

    Below is a sample letter of the sort of thing you might write. The red numbers in brackets refer to the list of tips for writing letters above.



    Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP Mrs Bear Poker (1)
    PO Box 6022 Edgecliff Road
    House of Representatives Edecliffe NSW 2027
    Parliament House and Canberra ACT 2600 Phone number and email if you wish


    Dear Prime Minister

    I am writing to you as a resident of your electorate to ask you for your position on access to low strength nicotine for use in E-cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy for smokers. (5)(6)

    I smoked for fifty years and tried everything to quit but the only successful method I found was vaping (using an E-cigarette). My quitting tobacco has made my family and friends very happy as I was very sick before I stopped smoking and they were expecting me to die soon from smoking related disease. (10) (More potential voters)

    I think that the issue of access to low strength nicotine is so important for the smokers of Australia, who have not been able to quit using any other method, that I have become a single issue voter because this issue is so important to me as I am sure it is to many other vapers and future ex-smoking vapers. (7) (I have only included one topic here but go for it.)

    I am aware that the Liberal Party of Australia is not overtly hostile to vaping and would appreciate a confirmation of that before the next election. (11)

    I know you will be very busy until the next election so thank you for taking the time to read and hopefully respond to this letter. (13)


    Yours faithfully


    Signature
    Mrs Bear Poker
    Date
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016
    Jimmy Jazz, rupert, Jennifer and 5 others like this.
  2. Admin

    Admin Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Victoria
    Thanks Judith. There's some really helpful info there. I hope as many people as possible will take the time to write a short letter and send it off to their local member. Anyone who wants to post their letter here, or seek some feedback please go ahead, although there's no need if you'd rather not. Share your ideas anyway. :)
     
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  3. DogMan

    DogMan Mutley

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Location:
    S/E Melbourne
    I don't think candidates have signed up yet, but can't be far away.
     
  4. Judith

    Judith Mostly harmless

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Tasmania
    Guessing who is going to win in your electorate is another thing too but before an election is when they are more likely to listen. Addresses for candidates who aren't sitting members will start appearing in letterboxes very soon thanks to the mountains of political mail we all have to wade through before elections.
     
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  5. Aqualung

    Aqualung Vagrant

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2015
    Thanks Judith.
    Parameters help enormously.
     
    Judith likes this.
  6. Judith

    Judith Mostly harmless

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Tasmania
    RC. and Aqualung like this.
  7. Nico and Laughter

    Nico and Laughter Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Location:
    Wollongong the brave!
    Thanks Judith I am going to write tomorrow to my very safe local member. I amaze myself by truely for the first time in my life I have become a one issue voter too. These are good guidlines/suggestions.
     
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  8. DogMan

    DogMan Mutley

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Location:
    S/E Melbourne
    On a related note. Senate voting is changing. 6 above the line or 12+ below. So even giving preferences has bargaining power. Full senate election too, not just half.

    Sent from my LG-H815 using Tapatalk
     
  9. sirfoxey

    sirfoxey Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    Location:
    Melbourne
    So glad I get to postal vote. I get sent the voting forms weeks in advance, and previously for the last 10 years of elections I have been able to research every party and vote below the line so that I vote in the order of preference I prefer
     
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  10. DogMan

    DogMan Mutley

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Location:
    S/E Melbourne
    I donkey voted the senate last time. 1 to 97 in the order they appear. Around 50 i questioned the choice. But after ricky muir etc got in i saw my point was valid

    Sent from my LG-H815 using Tapatalk
     
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  11. Judith

    Judith Mostly harmless

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Tasmania
    Yes, it is worth reading the new changes to Senate voting carefully. There is basic information here. http://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/How_to_vote/practice/practice-senate.htm

    You can also number all boxes on the ballot paper or as DogMan says 6 above or 12 below or as many more as you want to. What many people don't realise is that their vote keeps being passed down the line with preferential voting until it is used to elect a candidate. Each time it is passed down it loses some value so if you number all the boxes and you vote 1 for Joe Bloggs then if he doesn't get a quota (the number of votes to get elected) the vote is passed along to your next selection but loses some of it's oomph and might be worth 75% of a vote (can't remember the figure and it is hard to find) instead of 100% of a vote. It is incredibly complicated and I'm glad I don't have to figure it out.

    I have always numbered all boxes in the past so my vote ends up with someone but I will only vote to elect pro-vaping parties and politicians this time and if my vote dies then so be it.
     
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  12. laurie9300

    laurie9300 Photoshop Whore

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Western Sydney, Australia
    So is someone "in-the-know" able to post a "how-to-vote" pro-vaping?
     
  13. Donna

    Donna Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2015
    We are working on a set of questions to send to the Political Parties and the main independents to get their commitments.

    We do know that the LDP and the Sex Party support vaping along with a couple of Independents in the Senate from various states. We've also been advised that the Nationals support but we don't know whether that translates into the Coalition.

    Once we have answers, we'll let you know Laurie.

    In the mean time, we encourage everyone to write to their local members.
     
    Jennifer, laurie9300 and Judith like this.
  14. sirfoxey

    sirfoxey Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Thanks donna. I look forward to any information which I can reference when it comes to voting that will support vaping.
     
  15. sirfoxey

    sirfoxey Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    Location:
    Melbourne
    That said, I assume that it will include information also including information about voting for nicotine harm reduction in general also. As I would like my vote to go to people supporting vaping but also anyone who supports nicotine harm reduction as a lower priority before anyone else who gets my vote.
     
  16. Donna

    Donna Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2015
    We're thinking of writing two sets of questions because vaping (liquid nicotine) is one regulation that needs to be changed and the other is snus/snuff which is a different matter. ie. one is basically illegal without a script and the other is legal but subject to sin taxes. Neither are sold locally.

    We feel combining the two is likely to confuse but both are valid and necessary questions and we don't intend to ignore either.

    To combine the questions might imply we want nicotine eliquid treated like snuff/snus and thereby attract taxation and be considered a tobacco product. This is the last thing we want but it doesn't mean we shouldn't fight to have the other changed.
     
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  17. Judith

    Judith Mostly harmless

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Tasmania
    If we write to pollies personally we can also find out. I am waiting for the list of candidates to be published before I begin my snail mail campaign. Must work on my draft though.
     
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  18. sirfoxey

    sirfoxey Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    Location:
    Melbourne
    any information that will assist me with ensuring my vote counts towards ensure Australians have options to quit smoking and reduce their harmful conceptions of nicotine is all I am after
     
    Jennifer, Judith and Donna like this.
  19. Nico and Laughter

    Nico and Laughter Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Location:
    Wollongong the brave!
    Just giving this thread a bump and letting you know that I sent an email to my local mp asking her what was her position on changing scheduling of liquid nicotine for vaping. It's a horribly safe Labour seat so I'm not expecting great things but she should be aware that for many vapers now it is the leading issue as to how they will vote.
     
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  20. Judith

    Judith Mostly harmless

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Tasmania
    I had a look today and the candidates won't be officially listed until about 8 June although lower house candidates will be easy to spot with their campaigning the senate is more difficult. I might get my son to post any replies to potential senators, if no one objects, because I will be away for a couple of weeks in June and won't get back until the end of the month,
     
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