Communication to Parliament

 

Protocols for Communicating with Members of Parliament



Members of Parliament are your representatives in Parliament. You can contact them at their offices in the parliamentary complex or at their out-of-Parliament or electorate offices.

Full parliamentary and electorate contact details are listed for each member within this directory.
 


Writing a Letter


Guidelines on Writing to a Member of Parliament
 
  • Write to the appropriate MP and not all of them
  • Address your letter using the MP’s correct name and title
 
Letters to Members of the House of Representatives in Wellington should be addressed to:

The Honourable (full formal name) OR Mr, Ms, Dr (full formal name)
House of Representatives
Parliament Buildings
WELLINGTON 6160
 

No postage stamp is needed when you are writing as an individual to a Member of Parliament or a Minister. Postage is required if you are writing on behalf of an organisation.
 

Note – please see below for appropriate protocol and forms of address
 
  • Introduce yourself as a concerned member of the public
  • Clearly state the purpose of your letter. For example: ‘I am writing to urge your support for/opposition to…’ OR ‘I am writing to ask you to support/ oppose…’
  • Focus on one issue only. Explain your concerns and how they impact the wider community and you as a voter. Support your personal views and experiences with facts. Don’t allow your letter to become long winded. Stay focused and stick to your main points.
  • Sample letters, postcard campaigns and emails are usually considered to be less effective than a handwritten or printed and signed letter.
  • Ask for a response to your letter.
  • Let the MP know if you have met, voted for or assisted with their election campaign.
  • Never be rude, condescending or confrontational. Always be polite and courteous.
  • Don’t forget to include your name, address, contact telephone number and email address.
  • Encourage others who feel strongly about your issue/s to write to their local MP as well.
  • Encourage local MPs who support your position with thank you letters.
 

Protocol and forms of address

Here are some examples of the correct form of address for members of Parliament.
 
 
 

Form of address

Salutation

Conversation

Speaker:

Dr The Rt Hon David Carter, Speaker of the House of Representatives   

Dear Mr Speaker

Mr Speaker

Prime Minister:

Rt Hon Bill English, Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister

Prime Minister

Ministers:

Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of …

Dear Minister

Minister

Members of Parliament:     

Hon Nikki Kaye MP or
Ms Nikki Kaye MP

Dear Mr / Ms / Dr XX

Mr / Ms / Dr XX

 
 
 

Making a Submission to a Select Committee

 

If you have something to say about a bill or other item before a select committee, you may be able to make a submission about it. Select committees ask for your opinion by ‘calling for submissions’.

 

What is a submission?

 

A submission is your chance to present your opinions, observations, and recommendations on a matter before a select committee. Submissions are written, but you may also ask to talk to the committee in person. This way, committee members can ask you more detailed questions about your recommendations.

 

When to make a submission?

 

It is normal for committees to ask for submissions, but it is not compulsory. Select committees often ask for public input by advertising in newspapers. The advertisement states the name of the bill or other item under consideration; the name and contact details for the select committee; and the timeframe for sending your submission.

 
 
For further information on making a select committee submission please click here.
 
 

Transparency in the Public Sector

 

Two notable cases have highlighted the transparency of public sector organisations recently, something you need to be aware of if you communicate with them.

 

In June, internal emails between managers and staff of Capital & Coast District Health Board relating to a man with autism who was locked in seclusion were made public. More recently in Hastings and Havelock North, the impact of water contamination is likely to be felt for a long time, and those likely interacted parties will use the OIA to obtain copies of internal communications.

 

Every organisation should be familiar with the OIA and LGOIMA, two Acts specific to public sector transparency. Information below highlights how any communications sent to a public sector organisation can be made public, it also enables you to potentially access information that is important to you or other publics.

 

Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA)

 

What is the LGOIMA?

The LGOIMA allows people to request official information held by local government agencies. This Act contains rules for how such requests should be handled, and provides a right to complain to the Ombudsman in certain situations. Click here to see the Ombudsman’s guide.

 

Official Information Act 1992 (OIA)

 

What is the OIA?

The OIA is designed to make government activities more open and transparent to the public. Anybody can request information held by Ministers and central government agencies such as the Police, universities, boards of trustees of state schools and district health boards.

 

Information that can be requested includes: documents (draft and final); reports; letters and emails; meeting minutes and agendas; video tapes or recordings.

 

The requested information must be supplied within 20 working days. If an organisation declines, it must provide a reason and advise the Ombudsman, who investigates whether this is justified under the Act.

 

Click here to see an example.

 

How are the OIA and LGOIMA relevant to you or organisations you work with?

 

  • Information on a wide range of subjects and across any platform, not necessarily details within a particular document, can be requested.
  • Any communication an organisation has with government organisations and local bodies could be requested and accessed by the public and media.
  • The organisation that makes the request could be liable to pay for any costs occurred to obtain and supply the information, although this is seldom enforced.
  • Expenses, sponsorship and funding paid between an organisation and local bodies, government organisations, agencies or officials can be requested. 

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