Engaging your local MP

Assoc Prof John Kramer, Woolgoolga, NSW

Your local member is your representative in Parliament and you’re entitled to ask them to represent your interests. 

This case study shares some ideas on how you might engage your local Member of Parliament (MP) to talk about the issues important to you and your rural and remote community. 

Assoc Prof John Kramer reached out to his local MP in Woolgoolga to discuss key COVID-19 issues. 

He says: “I’ve always made a point of trying to know my state and federal MPs personally, for all sorts of reasons. So I already knew Kevin Hogan MP, he had been to my practice about two years ago when we were trying to get help with one of our International Medical Graduates (IMGs). 

I sent him a message seeking clarity about the early MBS Item Numbers. We spoke on the phone and have exchanged text messages regularly since then. He had a strong connection into Greg Hunt MP’s office so was able to feed MBS concerns straight in there. One problem got fixed about 24 hours later. I’m sure that others were lobbying along the same lines, so I’m not claiming credit particularly, but it would have helped when combined with other lobbying efforts. We had scheduled a face-to-face meeting, but that changed to a phone chat due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

So basically I was building on an existing relationship. Some GPs will also have that, but others won’t. 

I sensed that MPs generally were looking for some guidance on the health aspects surrounding COVID-19, particularly in the early stages of the outbreak. However, I think any MP would value considered input from mainstream GPs in their electorate. 

Federal MPs can champion rapid changes to Medicare to make our job as GPs easier.”

Assoc Prof Kramer’s top tips:

  1. Getting in touch with your local MP is easy. You can find your federal electorate and MP on the Australian Electoral Commission website and then find their phone, email or postal details through the Parliament of Australia website
  2. Offer your services to discuss what’s happening on the front lines. If the MP is already speaking with a few different GPs, there’s no real problem.
  3. If you have a local MP as your patient you may be able to use that existing connection.
  4. Ring the MPs office, suggest a Skype meeting and offer to let them know what’s happening on the front lines. There would probably be some media opportunities that would appeal to the MP as well.

After the meeting, don’t forget to follow up. Write to your MP to thank them for meeting you, restate your main points and confirm agreed action. Don’t forget to send them any information promised during the meeting.