I’m having a big letter-writing weekend this weekend, though I’ll probably also go to the protest later this afternoon.
I’ve been chatting to a few people about who to write to, and what to say when you do. Let me start by saying that I am absolutely not an expert on this. But having said that, here’s who I think is worth a shot (note that these links all lead either to contact forms or to email addresses):
- your local lower house representative. It’s his or her job to read your letters!
- The leader and deputy leaders of the Opposition (Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek), and shadow ministry members who have portfolios that are relevant to your concerns. So I’m writing to Chris Bowen (treasurer), Mark Butler (environment), Catherine King (health), Senator Jan McLucas (housing, homelessness, mental illness), Jenny Macklin (families, disability), Senator Penny Wong (senate leader, who wrote a pretty good article about the budget a few days ago)
- Your state senators, of every flavour except Liberal. I’d include the Nationals in this one, because country people are getting the short end of the stick in this budget, too.
- The Green senators.
- Edited to add: The Palmer United Party. Clive Palmer has said he will oppose this budget because of the changes to Medicare and the pension, and we want him to stand firm on this! Palmer doesn’t seem to have a standard APH email address or contact form, but you can reach Palmer United through this link.
- For bonus points, and I’d save this one for last, minor party and independent senators from other states.
Yeah, that’s a huge amount of people. You really don’t have to write to all of them. Start with your local lower house rep, Bill Shorten and your local Greens Senators – I think everyone has at least one by now – or the Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne.
What should you write in these letters? Well, honestly, that’s up to you. Personally, I’m writing a brief letter of thanks and encouragement to the Greens – on the whole, they are covering the things I care about and can probably be relied on to oppose the budget no matter what I do, but encouragement is never a bad thing. My local MP, Kelvin Thomson, has a blog, and he wrote a few things about the budget in it, so my letter to him picks up on the themes he wrote about. Bill Shorten’s Budget Reply is available online, and I’ll take the same approach there. For everyone else, I’m googling their name and ‘2014 budget’, to see what they’ve said about it. Or looking them up on Facebook and Twitter, where they put their bite-sized responses to the budget. (Hi, I’m Catherine and I’ll be your political stalker for today!)
The general structure I’m using is starting by thanking them for their opposition to the budget, a paragraph or two expressing my thoughts feelings about the issues on which we agree, and a final sentence urging them to keep opposing the budget.
I’ll post a few examples later, if anyone is interested.
Is this effective? I have no idea. But if, like me, you want the various opposition parties to block this budget to the best of their ability, I think it’s a good idea to let them know that the voters are behind them if they do. Abbott is doing his best to scare the minor party senators, at least, into compliance. I have no idea if a letter can change this or not, but I don’t think it can possibly be a bad thing to let people we agree with know that we are on their side.
Happy letter-writing! And remember – your letter doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be sent.
For a full list of Members of Parliament and the Senate, visit the APH website here – you can find your local MP (start by finding your electorate), or sort senators by state or party, or find a list of incoming senators, or the shadow ministry, or more. Contact details can be found through individual upper and lower house members’ pages, or you can find a general directory here, once you know who you are looking for.