In New Zealand there are many ways, including protest, to get the attention of decision-makers. By making a submission on a bill, starting a petition or contacting an MP, you can have your voice heard and call for change on issues that are important to you.
What’s in it for you?
Parliament creates the law of the land, and its decisions affect everyone. Anybody can share their view on an issue they care about, and our democracy works best when public views shape law-making.
You can create actual change by getting involved with Parliament. Almost all bills go through a select committee, where the public can make submissions and call for changes to proposed laws. Many bills are the result of members of the public raising their concerns with Members of Parliament, by contacting them directly or lodging petitions. Depending on the circumstances, MPs can advocate to Government departments on your behalf and support you to create change on a local or national issue.
How to have your say
Making a submission to a select committee
Before they can be passed into law, bills go through several stages of debate and consideration. The select committee stage lets people give their views on a proposed law directly to MPs. Anyone can make a submission. You can write a submission to be read and considered by committee members and, if you wish, you can ask for a time to speak to the committee to give your evidence in person.
Contacting an MP
Members of Parliament are elected to represent the views of New Zealanders and make our country’s laws. If you want to contact an MP about a local issue or community concern, it may be best in the first instance to approach your electorate MP – your local representative. MPs will take appointments and most will hold public clinics around their community where anyone can turn up and have the chance to speak with them.
You may find other MPs are more helpful to contact in some cases. Ministers may be able to assist you if you have a problem, question or concern that relates to a Government department within their responsibility. Or, you may want to take your concerns to a particular party, if you support their policy on a particular issue.
Starting a petition
Anyone is able to start a petition, which formally asks Parliament to act on a public issue by making a policy or law change. Your petition must be sponsored by a Member of Parliament, who presents it to the House of Representatives on your behalf. Certain rules apply to petitions, and they can only ask Parliament to do things within its law-making power. If you try to ask Parliament to make the sky green and the grass blue, you may not have much luck.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.