Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Writing to your MP

I've recieved an email asking for help on dealing with government.  I have attached three responses from various sources regarding the failure to deal with graffiti at Drummoyne Public School.  

The first is a response from the Department of Education to my compadre, who wrote to the Department on 14 January regarding this issue.  He got a response less than 4 weeks later, and the graffiti was cleaned up before this letter was sent.

Coincidentally, a day earlier, I had written to my local MP, Angela D'Amore about exactly the same thing (although my compadre and me email each other from time to time with information on what we are doing, we don't exactly co-ordinate our actions).  Since Angela didn't bother responding after three weeks (not even an acknowledgement letter), I gave up hope of getting a response and wrote directly to the Minister for Education.  Her response is below - note that it is almost exactly the same as the response my compadre got (which is not surprising - why rewrite a letter when the original is good enough).  

The Minister sent her letter back via Angela's office, which also doesn't surprise me.  Normal protocol is that if you write to your MP, the MP will forward it on to the Minister responsible for a reply.  However, when they do that, they always write back to you to say, "thanks for your letter, I have asked the Minister for X for a response, and will forward it to you as soon as I get it".  

Angela's staff must have missed that lesson in protocol.

Here starts the lesson:

In Angela's last paragraph, she suggests that in future, I make contact via the telephone or email.  I strongly suggest you don't do that.  MP's get bombarded with SPAM, and there is a good chance your email will become lost in the deluge.  Spend the 55 cents to post it.  Emails also tend to be written in haste - so take your time and write and a letter with care.  

Whatever you do, never make a phone call alone.  There's a good chance nothing will ever come of it.  Put your concerns down on paper.  Paper leaves a trail; it has to be filed.  It's very hard to ignore paper, and you have a clear and concise record of what you said.  Note that in this case, I was able to reprint the letter that I had sent to Angela, and then re-send it to the Minister for Education - and only then did I get a response.

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