Thanks to the Rainbow Families Council for much of the content of this page

MP VISITS HANDY HINTS SHEET

In Australia, only Queensland and South Australia fail to recognise same sex headed families. 2009 is a crucial year for these issues. On August 18 Premier Bligh proposed substantial changes to altruistic surrogacy and same sex parenting recognition. The reports, available at http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/509.htm  recommend many positive changes recognising the rights of children in rainbow families, and legalising altruistic surrogacy for all Queenslanders, including same sex couples. .

WHY VISIT MY LOCAL MP?

We need to convince Ministers and Members of Parliament (MP) that these reforms are needed by  rainbow families and supported by the broader community. We must show them that these issues are about real people, and about our children. The most powerful thing you can do to help is to visit your local MP, and tell them your personal story and why changing the laws matters to you, your children and your family.

TALK TO US ABOUT IT

Please contact us for support, and/or afterwards to let us know how it went. We may have some idea of how your MP intends to vote. Email mgalea@flightofideas.com.au when you’ve made your appointment and when you’ve been, so we can keep track. This is very important. There are about 40 MPs who are undecided on this issue, and we want to make sure they get to meet us!

WE NEED LOTS OF HELP

We need everyone affected and everyone who supports rainbow families to help. If you’re a parent or prospective parent, perhaps you could take your supportive parents or other relative to visit their local MP. This may result in a wider range of MPs being visited, and MPs may be more able to relate to them. Or you could go with a partner or a friend to your own MP, or with others in your electorate who are affected. Don’t take too many people! If you have children and are willing to take them, that’s great as it makes the issue more real. Otherwise you could take photos or tell stories about them. Whatever their political background, your MP and their staff should be polite, informal and professional with you.

FINDING YOUR MP

• To find your local MP go to the Australian Electoral Commission You can then enter your street name or suburb to find out the name and contacts for your MP. • Send a letter or email. All Queensland State MP email addresses have the format yourelectoraldivision@parliament.qld.gov.au. (eg indooroopilly@parliament.qld.gov.au )

REQUESTING A MEETING

• Request a meeting in your letter or email.

• Don’t suggest a date or time, they will get back to you. Do suggest preferred days/times if need be. Office hours are generally better, but after hours can be arranged.

• You should hear back within one week. If not, follow up by phone. Ask for the Electorate Officer, give the date of your original letter/email and reiterate your request.

WHAT YOU COULD WRITE

• Date your letter and include your home address, even in an email, to show that you live in their electorate.

• State that you are requesting a meeting as their local constituent, representing your personal concerns. Tell them if you are coming alone or with other people.

• Briefly say what you want to discuss, eg “I would like the opportunity to discuss with you my support for reform in the area of legal recognition of same-sex parented families.”

• Briefly describe how the issue affects you personally, e.g. “I live with my same-sex partner and our children (or, we plan to have children), but the law does not protect our family or our (future) children’s rights.”

WHAT YOU MIGHT SAY

For background info, see the Research and Resources page or email Molly on mikhela_lee*at*yahoo.com.au for a chat.

The meeting length will depend on how busy your MP is. You will have 20-45 minutes, so be clear about what you want to say, and get to the point. Focus on how the laws impact on you and your family personally.

• Introduce yourself and talk about your situation. For example, explain the journey you took or are taking to create your family and how the law affects you and your children.

• Mention other families you may know in their electorate (without mentioning names) to emphasise that there are diverse families who are affected in their area.

• Ask if they are a parent, and talk about your experiences of being/wanting to be a parent.

Why the Government/their party must act.

Pick a couple of key points from research studies or submissions that support what you’re saying. For example: “There are hundreds of Queensland children with same-sex parents, and numbers are increasing. Studies show that these children are in no way disadvantaged by their parents’ sexuality. The disadvantage they suffer is laws that do not protect their rights and discriminate against them. It is confusing and unfair to have Federal and State laws that treat us differently.” Use the campaign ‘Cheat Sheet’ (link) for quick stats and facts, or check out the research on this site

What you would like them to do.

Whether they are a Government or Opposition MP, seek an undertaking that they will consider your views when they come to develop their own position, and when discussion occurs about their Party’s position. Conclude the meeting by asking “what undertakings can you provide to me about actions arising out of this meeting?” They should at least say that they will consider your views. Let them know that their own/their Party’s position on the issue will directly affect whether you vote for them. You can check “Hansard” (the transcript of what is said in Parliament, available at http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au) to see whether they spoke in favour/against the legislation and then email them about your voting intention.

Frequently asked questions

Is it worth visiting my local MP if they are not a member of the Government party?

YES!  It’s important for Liberal/National MPs to know the level of support for law reform in their electorate. When it comes to discussion in the party room/caucus, if MPs have only heard from conservative constituents, they are likely to say that this is their position as reflected by the majority of their constituents.  A local MP should reflect the general consensus of their constituents, hence the importance of lobbying both Government and Opposition MPs

Can’t I just write a letter?

Writing letters to your local MP are a good addition to personal lobbying, but it is not nearly as effective. If letters alone are to get attention, they need to not be form letters, and they need to arrive in large numbers. You could organise your playgroup, childcare centre or members of your family to write letters, perhaps together.

“The received wisdom is that if a Minister/MP is sent one letter on an issue, staff reply; if they get ten, the Minister notices it; if twenty arrive, s/he gets advice; and if the staff receives forty, s/he acts ….” – Kirner, J, and Rayner, M, TheWomen’s Power Handbook, p. 271

YOUR VISIT CHECKLIST

❏ Read the Handy Hints Info Sheet!

❏ Download and read the MP Visits Cheat Sheet from….

❏ Find your MP

❏ Make an appointment.

❏ Email mgalea@flightofideas.com.au to tell us you’ve made the appointment.

❏ Visit your MP and don’t forget to tell us all about it!

❏ Encourage five friends/family members to do the same, and/or go with them.

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One Response to “Guide to visiting MPs”


  1. […] 4: Think about what you might say. Haven’t visited an MP before? here’s a guide to what to expect. Check out the research into same sex parenting, here and here. Have a look at the common concerns […]

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