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”).
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.