Meeting with a Politician

The workers compensation system is controlled by the government legislation. If you want to lay the blame for the system you are under it lies there with the government. The parliament, specifically the liberal National government has the capacity to make changes to that legislation and talking to their MP’s and decision makers (both in parliament and outside in their party) is one of the only ways we have to change the legislation.

To do that you need to be prepared to talk to them.

Talking to a politician can be a daunting task, the power imbalance between you and them is set into our cultural psyche whether that’s reality or not but being prepared is the best way to overcome nerves and make sure you get your message across.

There are a few basic rules to talking to a politician.

  1. All politicians are approachable. They are nice (really they are) that’s why the get elected. Don’t feel that you are unworthy or unable to talk to them. They will give you the time of day to speak to them. In saying that they may give you the time of day but they may not be willing to do what you want them to do.
  1. All politicians are time poor. Expect only five minutes to talk to them. Never   expect that you are going to get an hour to tell your story. That means you need to prepare your story and what you want them to do about it well before you have that chat.
  1. All politicians know the entire range of trick and threats. So don’t try any. They have heard and potentially used all the threats that you think will work on them (they don’t work unless you have a significant amount of power over them- which unless you are the Premier you are unlikely to have). Be truthful when you speak to them, lying doesn’t work with anyone but with a politician their capacity to trust is very thin so if you are caught out you lose any chance you get.
  2. They only really care about their constituents. If you approach a neighbouring MP then, unless they are in tune with your issue it is unlikely they will be able to do much for you or your cause. This is more to do with the second point of being time poor. If the MP is in tune with your issue then it can be worthwhile to talk to them about the issue in general, just not your particular problem.

When you have a meeting with a politician you need to be prepared.

Follow the “tell your story” method to make sure you have time to a. ask them to do what you want them to do and b. tell them what you believe is necessary about your experience to get the need for the “Ask” across to them. If you get caught up relaying every problem you have had with the system it will be too much for them to manage.

You might have a meeting with their “representative” rather than with the MP.

Premiers diaries are prepared years in advance. Ministers diaries are prepared months before and Local MP’s are prepared weeks in advance. So be prepared to talk to their representative.

Remember that MP’s are time-poor. An electoral officer may take the interview before you get a chance to talk to the actual MP (unless you approach them in the street).  It is even more important to get your points across in an easy to follow way; they will be taking notes for their MP but probably won’t be able to convey the strength of your feelings on the issue.

Leave them with something in writing.

Don’t just rely on your vocal persuasion skills- especially if you are talking to their representative.  2-5 pages (no more than five) and no original papers (copies only) at best. They are not going to read every letter you have received from your insurer, or take the time to contact your insurer or doctor to confirm for themselves. So prepare something for them to take away, but make sure the paperwork you hand over is as slim as possible.

Politicians are afraid that you will talk to others.

They are also confident that you wont.

If you write, visit, ring, have any communication with a politician then you should be prepared to share that with others.

The IWSN website, or the local newspaper are great places to do this.