Meet Your MP - Solar Citizens

Meet Your MP

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One of the most effective ways you can raise your voice for solar is by meeting and talking about it face-to-face with your local member of parliament.

This page provides a step-by-step guide to arranging and having an impactful meeting with your MP, as well as templates you can use to make it easy for you.

As your local member, your MP’s first priority should be representing your views - it’s their job. To them, you are an important person - you live in their electorate and as such they are there to represent you.

Whether your MP shares your views on solar, disagrees on every point, or barely knows anything about renewable energy, every single time a local constituent meets with them to talk about solar will have an impact. Telling your story about why solar is important to you will help your MP understand how important it is for Australians and that they should do the right thing by their local constituents.

You don’t need to be an expert on the policy or on solar power. All you need to show is that you care enough about solar to turn up in your MP’s office and have a conversation. So let's get cracking!

 

Meeting your MP: What's Involved

The following sections will help you organise and hold an effective meeting with your MP:

Step 1: Book your meeting
Step 2: Prepare for your meeting
Step 3: Have your meeting
Step 4: Follow up your meeting (and tell us about it!)
Additional Resources

And remember, we're here to help! If you have any questions, email us at info@solarcitizens.org.au.

 

Step 1: Book your meeting

To find out who the MP for your electorate is, go to the Parliament of Australia’s Member Search page. Once your MP has been found, click on them to open their profile and see their office contact details.

Request a meeting with your MP

The best way to make first contact with your MP when you want to set up a meeting is to send an email/letter to their electorate office. We've created a template you can use here. There are a few things you should be sure to include in your email/letter:

  • An introduction - let them know who you are and that you are a local constituent.
  • Why you want to meet with them - eg. to talk about solar, or a particular solar policy, or a local solar project you are passionate about.
  • Mention the number of solar homes and solar voters in your electorate - which you can get from our Solar Scorecard here.
  • Ask for an appointment - pick a reasonable time frame (not tomorrow, but not four months from now, within 2-4 weeks is good).

Follow up calls to your MP’s office - be persistent!

Follow up your email or letter to your MP with a phone call 1-2 days after your written meeting request. It’s likely you'll speak to a member of staff, like a personal assistant, or electorate officer. It’s a good idea to ask to be put through to the MP’s diary manager.

Introduce yourself and tell them you’re calling to set up a meeting with your MP. Let the staff member know you have already written and requested a meeting, then ask what availabilities your MP has.

Often they will try to dissuade you by telling you that the MP is very busy, or by saying they’ll get back to you when they probably won’t. Be persistent! Just remember, it’s your MP’s job to listen to you. You may need to make multiple calls over a period of several days or weeks. If they are really dragging their feet, mention that you may discuss this important community issue with your local paper/radio/TV.

Once their staff member has offered you a time you are happy with, confirm it with them in writing to lock it in. You should ask for a half an hour meeting, but be willing to work with their schedule and needs. If your MP is a Minister or an opposition front-bencher, it is reasonable for them to offer you a meeting with one of their staff members instead - but you may want to still push for a face-to-face meeting with your MP.

 

Step 2: Prepare for your meeting

So you’ve got a meeting booked, what next?

Find your team

The MP’s office will likely ask that you email them a list of names of the people who will be coming to the meeting with you. This would be a good time for you to consider any solar-loving friends you might like to take along to the meeting. We suggest getting a team of 2-3 people together (definitely no more than 4), and it’s important thing that they’re all from your electorate.

Draft your meeting plan

It’s worth having a meeting plan to ensure you get the most out of the time you spend with your MP - we've prepared a template that you can use here. It should cover what topics you will discuss in the meeting and how much time you’ll allocate for each. Writing this plan will help you prepare and keep you on track during the meeting.

We recommend you send your draft meeting plan around to your team in advance to get their input. You can also nominate which team member will lead on each topic in the meeting, so that everyone has a role to play. You’ll also need to specify someone to take notes, someone to make sure the meeting stays on track, and someone to bring the camera and take the all-important photo at the end.

Here are a few more things you should do to prepare for your meeting:

  • Think about your solar story: What has your solar experience been? Why does keeping solar strong matter to you? It may help to make notes on this to make sure you can convey it concisely, and it's a good idea to practice with a family member or friend.
  • Get the solar figures for your electorate from our Solar Scorecard here.
  • Check out what solar campaigns Solar Citizens is currently running here - are there any that are relevant to your meeting? 

Run through your meeting plan together

It’s a good idea for you and your team-mates to all get together an hour or two before the MP meeting, perhaps at a nearby cafe, to run through your meeting plan together. Here are some things you can do during this time:

  • Walk through each section of the meeting plan to ensure everyone knows their roles.
  • Brainstorm objections that the MP might raise, and how you could respond. Here’s an objections handling formula you can try:
    1. Listen and understand their objection, clarifying with them if necessary.
    2. Express empathy and relate to what they’re saying.
    3. Answer the objection.
    4. Confirm your answer - check whether they’ve understood.
    5. Re-state your original question or request.
  • If you’ve got time you could even do a rehearsal together, where you each go through your parts as though you are in the meeting with the MP.

How to talk about Solar Citizens to your MP: If your meeting isn’t part of a national Solar Citizens campaign, it’s important to clarify that Solar Citizens hasn’t organised it in any way. There’s a really crucial distinction between the actions that supporters take on their own accord, and the actions Solar Citizens centrally organises. If a MP asks who you are representing, the accurate answer is you are representing yourself, an individual Solar Citizens supporter and a constituent in his electorate - in many ways this can be more powerful.

 

Step 3: Have your meeting

Things to bring with you:

  • Copies of the meeting plan - one for each team member
  • A notepad and pen
  • A camera to take a photo at the end

In the meeting:

  • Confirm the amount of time the MP has available and make sure you’ve practiced your meeting plan and that it fits into your allocated time. Respect your MP by arriving on time and not going over time.
  • Introduce yourselves - tell them how long you’ve lived in this electorate, why you love it
  • Share your solar story - let your MP know if you have solar, want solar, know a solar worker or just want the better future for Australia that solar power will bring.
  • Ask your MP to share their thoughts on solar – what do they think of it, what’s their vision for a solar Australia? Remember to ask: Does she/he have solar? Finding out those stories, simply by asking your MP a few questions, can be a great way to connect with your representative in a real way and can give you the insight you need to talk to them in a persuasive way
  • Ask your MP to support stronger solar and renewable energy policies and/or ask them what they will do to protect and grow solar - make sure you write down what they say, any promises they make.
  • Take a photo of your team with your MP. Usually there will be a staff member who can take this for you. Be sure to ask for permission first.
  • Offer your sincere thanks for your MP’s interest and let them know that you will be in touch again with more information and updates.

Make sure you are polite in the meeting - but also be assertive. While we want to avoid being critical, we don’t want to understate the importance of solar and renewable energy to Australians and it’s okay to let that show in the meeting. Make sure you don’t leave the meeting without asking firmly for their support and to be in the photo.

Again, it’s great to remember that this is a big part of your MP’s job: meeting with constituents, listening to them and representing their views. So be passionate and be yourself - they work for you! You may even want to remind your MP - politely - of this fact.

 

Step 4: Follow up your meeting (and tell us about it!)

Once you’re back from your MP meeting you should do the following:

  • Send a followup email to your MP to thank them for the meeting and to provide them with any information that you offered to send them.
  • Thank and congratulate your team for being part of the meeting with you - you did it! Remember that just by holding the meeting you were already having an impact.
  • Tell us about your meeting and send us your meeting photo - you can email us at info@solarcitizens.org.au. We love to hear about Solar Citizens like you engaging with MPs, and may post about it on our national social media accounts. We also like to know the outcomes of MP meetings for our records.
  • Tell local media about it by sending them a media release (check out our guide to engaging with media here). Getting the meeting into the local media is a great way to raise community awareness about the topic, as well as to put more pressure on your MP.

 

Additional Resources

 

Questions? Contact us

If you have any questions please let us know at info@solarcitizens.org.au - we’re here to help!