A submission to a committee of Parliament is one way of making your voice heard in Parliament. By making a submission, you have an opportunity to influence the opinion of members of a committee who are discussing and debating a particular piece of legislation before it is finalised.
The first step is usually to make a written submission to a committee. Members of that particular committee will go through all the written submissions received from members of the public or interested organisations and then, based on the written submissions, may decide to invite some to appear before the committee to explain their written submission. That is called an oral submission.
Furthermore, keep an eye on the newspapers. Parliamentary committees, through advertisements, often invite members of the public to make written submissions when they are considering a particular matter. The relevant contact details will be contained in the invitation for submissions.
A submission is a way of making your voice heard when a Bill is being discussed in Parliament. It gives you the opportunity to change people's minds before the Bill becomes a law.
General tips on making a submission
There is no set format for a written submission. Your submission could be a simple letter of support or opposition. It could also be a longer document with suggestions for changes. The important thing is to say clearly what you want to say. The following tips may help you when preparing your submission:
• The shorter and simpler, the better. Committees receive many submissions at a time and a submission that is brief and to the point will facilitate their work.
• If your document is long, include a summary of the main points and recommendations.
• If you are making the submission as an individual, explain why you want to comment on the legislation. State if you have training or experience that is relevant to the issue.
• If you are making the submission as an organisation, briefly describe the organisation. Who are its members? Why are they concerned about this particular matter? Does the organisation have special expertise or experience in regard to the substance of the matter being discussed?
• Explain your point of view. Say whether you want to support or oppose a bill or the issue being deliberated upon. If you want to suggest changes, explain what they are.
• Use the language that you feel most comfortable with. Parliament, as the representative of the people, encourages the use of all official languages and would like all citizens to feel free to participate in the work of the institution in the language of their choice.
How to deliver a submission
• You can deliver your written submission personally, or post it. If you post it, ensure that you leave enough time for it to arrive before the deadline. If it is not too long, you can send it by fax. Written submissions can also be emailed.
Indicate on your submission if you would also like to make an oral submission. Follow this up by a telephonic enquiry to find out whether the committee has agreed to your request.