Home | Browse Topics | Government & legal system | Activism | Other ways to have your say

Government & legal system

Protesting and organising: Fundamental rights

Other ways to have your say

If you disagree with a law that is being made, there are things you can do to change it.

Make a submission to a select committee

Before laws are made, they are introduced and go through a process in parliament as a “bill”. The bill has to go through several stages before it can become law. This process gives people an opportunity to have their say. During these stages, the bill can be changed or stopped from becoming law.

At one of these stages, the bill will be looked at by a “select committee” The select committee will examine the bills and make recommendations about whether it should be passed into law and whether any changes need to be made. Select committees will normally ask the public to make submissions. By making a submission to a select committee, you can have a say on what recommendations they should make.

Anyone can make a submission. There will be a set date that submissions need to be made. You should clearly state what changes you want and put forward the best arguments you can think of in support. When you make a written submission, you will be asked whether you want to speak in front of the committee (called an “‘oral presentation”).

For more information on making a submission to a select committee visit the parliament website here, or go to www.parliament.nz and click on “Make a submission”.

Talk to your MP

Members of parliament or “MPs” are your representatives in parliament. A way to bring about law change is to contact your MP, either in person or in writing. It is their job to make and change laws.

You can contact them at their offices in parliament or at their community offices. You can find a list of all current MPs and their contact details on the parliament website, here (or go to www.parliament.nz and click on “MPs and Electorates on Parliament”).

Start a petition

Putting together a petition to parliament is another way to let the government know how you and your community feel about an issue. It can also help build awareness and support for your cause.

A petition asks parliament to take action on a matter of policy or law. Anyone can start a petition, and there are many sites (such as ActionStation and Change.org) that can help you spread the word and get the community to show their support. When your petition is ready, you can ask a member of parliament to arrange for it to be presented to parliament. It will then be passed to a select committee to consider and make recommendations.

You can also start a petition to ask for a national referendum, known as a “citizens initiated referendum”. A referendum is a national vote on a question. If you are enrolled to vote, you can vote on a referendum. The government doesn’t have to act on or change the law based on the referendum result, but it is a good way to show how the public feel about an issue.

There are several processes that need to be followed when you start a petition to ask for a national referendum. For more information, visit www.petitions.parliament.nz.

For more information on how a bill becomes law, visit the parliament website, here (or go to www.parliament.nz and search: “How a Bill becomes a law”.

Did this answer your question?


Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide initial free legal advice and information.

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top