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  • Writer's pictureMikayla Thompson

Anatomy of a submission

Have you ever wanted to influence laws or policies? Good news - you can! 

Making a submission on proposed laws, inquiries and policies that central and local governments want to introduce is your chance to share your opinions, observations, and recommendations on the issues that matter to you. Whether you support what is being proposed, oppose it or fall somewhere in between, submissions offer a platform for your voice to be heard. 

Submissions are most often called for by decision-making bodies, such as:

  • Parliamentary Select Committees - a small group of MPs from different parties who work together to look at issues in detail

  • Local Councils - such as Auckland Council, Wellington City Council, etc. 

  • Government agencies - such as MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)

You can submit feedback on any item on which these bodies are calling for feedback. Parliamentary consultations are listed on the Parliament website, while your local council and government agency consultations are typically found on their respective websites. Each consultation webpage details the scope of a consultation, how to make a submission, what to include in your submission and when the consultation closes.

4 Steps to Writing Your Submission

1. Learn about the topic

The first step you should take in writing your submission is to learn about the legislation, inquiry or policy that is open for consultation. You don’t need to dive into the entire bill, but ensure you’re familiar with its contents. Summaries are often available for each consultation, which will provide the essential information you need. 

2. Research

There are multiple ways to go about research for your submission:

  • Conduct a web search - look up the topic of the submission online; you are likely to find various opinions about the issue that will help to inform your submission. 

  • Read news articles - read up on related news to broaden your understanding; consider why you align or differ with the perspectives presented in these articles. 

  • Engage in discussions -  talking to others about the topic can clarify your thoughts and build (or refine) your arguments.

3. Drafting 

Many consultations will have a simple questionnaire you can fill out, but often these don’t go into much detail. If you want to make a long-form submission, this section will help to guide you through the drafting process.

When drafting your submission, keep in mind that you want to express your opinion clearly. Consultations often receive hundreds of pages of submissions, so you want whoever is reading your submission to understand what you’re saying without them getting bogged down in jargon or technical information.

Kick off with your submission with your stance on the consultation - make it clear whether you support or oppose what is being proposed. Build upon this foundation to construct the body and recommendations of your submission. Once these sections are fleshed out, proceed to craft the introduction, executive summary, and other segments detailed below. Emphasise the reasoning behind your opinions on the submission—this 'why' is key.

A submission is usually structured like this:

Executive Summary 

This is a concise overview of the key points of the submission. It is designed to give the reader a quick overview of the content of the submission without having to go through the entire document. When writing your submission, craft it as if someone doesn’t have time to read your full submission - they should understand the substance just by reading the executive summary. Typically, it includes the main objectives, findings, conclusions and recommendations of the submission. Keep this short, sweet, and straight to the point. 




About you!


4. Editing 

Remember to proofread and edit your submission before submitting. Some key questions to think about when editing are:

  • Is the key message clear?

  • Is there anything that needs more explanation?

  • Is there too much repetition?

  • Does the submission make sense?

  • Does the submission keep to the topic or focus area?

Nail these steps, and your submission will pack a punch, making your voice a force in shaping the future. You can download our free template below to help with drafting your submission!

Engage submission template
Download DOCX • 366KB

Mikayla holds a Master's degree in Public Policy, as well as a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts. She lives in Tāmaki Makaurau and has a keen interest in policy and politics.


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