FPL Advisory’s Policy Analyst Stefan Anjou explores five basic steps to make the most of a written submission to Parliament.
Parliamentary committees often seek information from a range of stakeholders to inform decision-making. This regularly occurs through calls for written submissions to inquiries that the committee is undertaking. This is a good chance to get your viewpoint across and ensuring it is in the right format will help make sure it doesn’t get lost in the noise.
Five tips for developing submissions with impact include:
1. Keep it concise
It is important that your submission is direct and succinct. Be clear, to the point and ensure each sentence and paragraph flows logically. The temptation can be to unload all the background and evidence that supports your view, however, too much information will dilute and confuse the message. The individual(s) reading your submission are likely to be reading many others so you want to make it as easy as possible for them to understand what you want. Keeping it to 2-3 pages is advisable.
2. Clearly outline your relevance to the issue
Establishing your relevance to the issue and why you are an expert is essential for your submission to be considered and thereby add value. There is a need to qualify your connection to the issue and illustrate why you may have authority on what is being considered. In addition, most calls for submissions will be accompanied by terms of reference and if your submission does not address these then it may not be accepted as evidence.
3. Provide key information
It is advisable to refer to evidence to add weight and credibility to your submission. Pointing to research, policies and law will give your writing authority. This can include links to external information and ideally involves facts and figures. People reading your submission are then able to evaluate the basis of your assertions and are more likely to be impacted by your point of view.
4. Clearly state your opinion
Your point of view (support or do not support) and recommendation(s) need to be clear and logically flow from your submission content. Providing possible solutions to the problem that you have articulated is beneficial, as this provides a useful pathway to address the issue. Practical solutions also differentiate you from submissions that are overly negative or unreasonable in their position.
5. Establish an engagement program based on your submission
Outside of sending in your submission, it should also be used as a tool to engage with other stakeholders and further its impact with the broader community. Your submission is a clear, concise, credible document outlining a point of view that has value beyond the call for submission it is responding to. It can be used to create and foster relationships with local councils, members of parliament, organisations and individuals that are stakeholders on the issue and is particularly valuable for demonstrating leadership and a cooperative and engaged approach to government relationships.
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