Tips to Help You Make the Most of Your MP Liaison Meeting
We have prepared these tips to help you make the most of the limited time you will have with your MP.
Before the Meeting
If you're attending with someone else (recommended if possible), have a chat to them and make a game plan using the tips below. Google your MP and see what their interests and responsibilities are. If you have a supporter along, decide in advance who will lead the meeting. One of you needs to keep an eye on the clock.
Read the “Why Standards Matter” briefing note. Print a copy to take with you to the meeting and hand to it the MP.
In the Meeting (modify as appropriate for 2+ people):
- Introduce yourself
- Thank the MP for meeting you.
- Tell your MP why you’re here and what you want from the MP e.g. “I wanted to meet with you to explain why we urgently need to improve the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill to address issues of equality, social cohesion and economic growth for disabled people and other groups of people with access needs”. I seek your support to advocate for changes to improve the Bill.
- Ask how much time the MP has to meet with you. Be aware of the time limitations to get your message across. Ask whether the MP it okay to get a photo with you at the end of the meeting. State the photo will be shared with the MP’s office staff.
- Outline the meeting e.g. “I'd first like to share a story that illustrates just one example of an accessibility barrier and how effective accessibility legislation could help to remove it. Then I’ll explain how the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill in its current form won’t remove this barrier. I will use the disability standards from Australia to illustrate the difference. Does that sound okay?”
Share your story:
Think of a barrier you have experienced or witnessed someone experiencing. This could be in accessing:
- Buildings, transport, education, goods and services, employment, information, digital space.
- What was the impact of this? How did it make you feel?
- Pick a standard or example from the Australian Disability Standards that could have prevented this experience.
- Think of a barrier you have experienced or witnessed someone experiencing. This could be in accessing:
- Ask the MP to urge their party's disability spokesperson to support the strengthening of the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill to include standards.
- Explain the campaign, using the points below as a guide.
- Allow time for the MP to ask questions (see below for some common ones).
- Hand them the briefing note.
- Wrap up, thank them and get a photo with them.
Key Messages for Explaining the Campaign
- We all want to live in a country where everyone belongs and has the same opportunity to participate and contribute to society.
- 1 million people, 24% of New Zealanders, identify as having a disability.
- All of us either have a disability or will get one as we get older. Our colleagues, friends and whanau have disabilities
- Many of us face barriers in our day-to-day lives that hamper our inclusion and full participation in workplaces, education, and our communities. Accessing transport, information and services isoften impossible or stressful because of these barriers.
- We want to work together to remove these barriers and create a truly accessible New Zealand. Effective Accessibility Legislation is the foundation we need - it is the right thing to do.
- Currently, individuals and organisations have to fight for the removal of these barriers one at a time, and this is exhausting and unfair. Under this legislation, we call for accessibility to be required by law, in both the public and private sectors and for it to be monitored and enforced effectively.
- Accessibility standards would complement the legislation, helping businesses, education providers, service providers and others understand how to become accessible and demonstrating the importance of prioritising
- When disabled people can participate and contribute, ALL of society benefits.
How can MPs Support the Campaign?
We call on you to:
- Let your party's disability spokesperson and party leader know about this meeting and indicate your support for strengthening the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill to include standards.
- Join the Parliamentary Champions for Accessibility Legislation (PCAL) group. PCAL is a cross-party group of Parliamentarians committed to ensuring New Zealand has fit-for-purpose accessibility legislation. Penny Simmonds, National MP for Invercargill and Terisa Ngobi, Labour MP for Ōtaki, are the Co-Chairs of PCAL.
The current PCAL members are:
- Dr Shane Reti MP – National
- Dr Deborah Russell MP – Labour
- Dr Liz Craig MP – Labour
- Greg O’Connor MP – Labour
- Jan Logie MP – Green
- Chloe Swarbrick MP – Green
- Golriz Ghahraman MP Green
- Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki MP – Labour
- Tracey McLellan MP – Labour
- Support strengthening the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill as and when the subject comes up.
- Emphasisethat the best results come from developing this legislation in close consultation with a number of stakeholders, including government (Central and Local), business, iwi and disabled people.
Common Questions MPs Might Ask
NB: If you don’t know the answer to a question you are asked, no problem (no need to pretend you do) - just email the questions through to the campaign team and we will follow up with the MP. You can simply say, “I’m not sure about that but I can ask someone from the campaign team to respond to that by email”.
Here are a few common questions:
How much will the legislation cost? Is it something you think businesses will be able to support?
It’s impossible to put a dollar figure on the financial cost at the moment, but we do know that the cost of disabled people having to face barriers just living, getting around, working and contributing to our communities is high.
We also know that lots of accessibility barriers can be removed with lateral thinking and minimal cost, especially when accessibility is planned from the outset. It’s also important to us that business is one of the stakeholders consulted on the legislation, as well as local government, iwi and disabled people.
This legislation as it is currently written doesn’t apply to business. We know that if you are in business and wanting to attract more customers, accessibility must be considered. People with access needs is the newest emerging market for New Zealand, both domestically and internationally. But right now in New Zealand it is very difficult for business to know what to do and how to go about it. This is because we have no clear practical accessibility standards. For those brave businesses who are willing to give it a go, it is expensive because of the lack of guidance and support available.
Inclusion of standards will result in nationwide consistency, innovation of accessible technologies and ultimately reduced costs for compliance.
Do you have more information on the campaign?
Yes, you can also find more on the campaign website www.accessmatters.org.nz
After the Meeting
- If you use social media, we encourage you to post about your meeting with a photo if it went well. Include the hashtags #AccessLawRightNow! and #AccessMattersNZ #WeDeserveBetter
- Please let us know how the meeting went and email the photo to [email protected]
- Please email your MP to thank them for the meeting and remind them of how they agreed to support the campaign.
All the best from the campaign team.