If you support the ABC, you can let politicians know by writing to your MP.
This page has some tips on how to proceed and how to be effective, but remember… to be effective, letters must be original and genuine.
Identifying your representative
Federal: search for your postcode here.
Form of communication
Physical letters have the most impact as they show that time and thought has been invested. This is changing and many MPs may now prefer email. Following up by phone to get a response also helps.
Letters are taken more seriously if:
- From someone important
- A meeting is requested
- Effort has been put in to the letter
- The letter is authentic and original
- Includes a personal story relating to the matter
- Specifically describe the harm the government policy is causing
- State what change to policy or funding that you want
Letters are not taken seriously if:
- The content is a “copy paste”
- The letter was pre-printed by a lobby group
- Angry or aggressive tone
- Overly righteous or extreme
Hand written letters can be hard to read.
Physical mail is still taken more seriously but some ministers are fine with email and this may be changing.
Many politicians don’t respond to emails but do respond to letters.
Lobbying in marginal seats is particularly effective.
Many people who contact politicians are angry and this is not the way to get a good hearing. Be friendly and ask for suggestions on how best to put your case. By asking a minister’s staff how best to make your case you get them on your side to some extent.
In person meetings are much more memorable for the politician.
Articles in the local papers have impact. Letters to the paper can have impact.
What to ask for
This should be your own priorities but a few thoughts might include:
- The value of a strong independent public broadcaster as a pillar of democracy
- Any suggestion of advertising on the ABC would compromise its independence
- Recent funding cuts and removal of indexation should be reversed
- Funding certainty, in perhaps five year terms, helps the ABC to plan
- The board should be independent and not stacked with people who are ideologically opposed to it
The most important things in campaigning are:
- Understand what you want
- Know who you’re targeting
Going to politicians with big demands can mean you get written off as just another activist group. Try to think about sub-demands that are achievable, for example just getting a politician to publicly give their support in a speech.
Don’t get stuck in the quagmire of idealogical debate. The past is past, in terms of cuts, focus on what we need from here.
When meeting with a local member:
- Google everything about them
- Find anything they’ve ever said about ABC
- Think about the groups that your MPs and Senators are interested in.
- Read their maiden speech
- Frame support for ABC to align with their stated views, eg: Support for child development
- Are they already with you or how much do they need to move?
- Take advantage of the current moment – so many of us are relying on the ABC for critical information “I listen to Norman Swan every day”
- How important ABC bushfire coverage was
- Ask for advice – people love giving advice and it gets them on your side
- Don’t be discouraged if you get an advisor or chief of staff
- No more than four or five people should attend
- Think about what the politician has to gain from the meeting
- What can you offer? Eg: We would love to be able to talk proudly about how our representative supports the ABC.
- If you say something in your next parliamentary speech or in the media we will write to the paper supporting your stand and share it on social media.
- Tell stories that the politician can remember and re-tell in media or parliament
- what it was like going through the bush fires and how important the ABC was
- how they’re feeling in the pandemic and the role of the ABC in informing them
MPs are always thinking about leverage – “what can this do for me?”
Stories help MPs to show that they are connected to their community.
- Do a community survey (this was done with the coal-seam gas campaign)
- Tell the MP about the level of community support
- If you have a rally or event, make sure you tell the office about it!
Get to it!
Now is the time to write and call your MP. Please let us know of your success.