How to write a submission
Share your voice in the NSW Bushfire Inquiry
31 March 2020
Here are a few tips and tricks for writing a submission for a government inquiry
In the wake of this summer’s devastating bushfires, the NSW Government has launched an inquiry. The inquiry will investigate the underlying causes that made the fires so severe and so intense. Just as importantly, it will look into how we can prepare to stop future fire seasons from getting worse. As the Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO and the overwhelming majority of scientists have warned us, climate change is making severe bushfire seasons more frequent, and more intense, and these tragic events will become worse without a rapid decline in greenhouse emissions.
This is your opportunity to make your voice heard! We’ve written some points you might want to include in your submission as some prompts. But it’s vital to use your own words and speak from your own experience to maximise the impact of your submission. If you can, please take ten minutes to write a brief submission to the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry.
Here are some pointers to help get you started:
- Address your submission to Mr. Dave Owens and Professor Mary O’Kane
- Introduce yourself, where do you live and how long have you lived there, say what you do or did e.g. are you a farmer, local business owner, emergency services worker, or resident.
- Be polite, and stick to what you know or can verify
Share your own experiences.
- Were you personally impacted by the bushfires or smoke? Do you have friends or family who were affected? How did the bushfires make you feel? How do you feel about the future unless the climate crisis is tackled with the urgency it needs? This could be the most compelling part of your submission.
- If you make claims, add citations to strengthen your arguments.
- Let them know what you want them to do – make recommendations.
And here are some key facts you might like to use. Remember to use your own words so that the inquiry takes your submission seriously:
- Last summer’s bushfires burnt 19.4 million hectares of land across Australia, and at least 5.4 million hectares in NSW alone, leading to 35 tragic deaths of people from fire and over 400 more from smoke exposure, and over a billion animals.
- According to research by the World Weather Attribution Network, fire danger conditions were made four times more severe by human-caused climate change, and further unchecked greenhouse pollution will multiply fire risk unless urgent action is taken now.
- It is already possible to replace most greenhouse-intensive production with climate-friendly solutions, so NSW’s greenhouse emission reductions should at least double by 2030 to avoid more dangerous and unpredictable extreme weather events – these can also reduce dangerous air and water pollution, create new jobs and regenerate the economy.
- NSW has bountiful sunlight and wind, so new renewable energy zones across the state should be built well before 2030.
Don’t forget to thank the inquiry members for taking the time to read your submission, and include your name and full address to make sure your submission is valid. Adapt these points however you want – shorter is better!
- Arriagada et al, “Unprecedented smoke‐related health burden associated with the 2019–20 bushfires in eastern Australia”, Medical Journal of Australia, 12 March 2020, viewed online at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.5694/mja2.50545