Petitioning the Council
A petition is a direct request to the Parliament that it take some particular course of action. For example, a petition might request that the House change legislation relating to a particular health issue, or support changes to a system of roads. The subject of a petition must be a matter on which the House has the power to act – that is, it must be a State matter, and one involving legislation or government administration.
Signing a petition is an important way for citizens and groups to make their concerns known to Parliament, become involved in the legislative process and inform decisions. A petition from an individual may address a personal grievance such as the correction of an administrative error. Petitions are regularly presented by members to the Parliament.
Petitions must be signed by at least one person, but are often signed by hundreds of people who are hoping to influence the Parliament. The largest petition ever presented to the House was signed by over 500,000 people.
Preparing a petition and collecting signatures
To ensure that a petition can be presented to the House, it must conform to the following rules:
How is a petition presented?
- be addressed to the President and members of the Legislative Council, not to ‘the Parliament’, an individual member or Minister, or ‘to whom it may concern’,
- include a request for particular action by the House or the Parliament, but not a grant of public money,
- be typewritten or written in ink and on paper (signatures cannot be collected or submitted electronically), be in written English, or accompanied by a translation in English, which the member presenting the petition must verify to be correct,
- be signed by the petitioners with their names (although a petition may be signed on behalf of another person if they are unable to sign),
- additional signatures may be attached, provided the request of the petition is stated on each page,
- not have other documents attached to it.
A petition can only be presented to the Legislative Council by a member of the House. Although any member can present a petition, it is not the practice for the President or a minister to do so.
Members of the public can contact a member of the Legislative Council
to request that he or she present a petition. The member must ensure that the petition conforms with the rules of the Legislative Council before presenting the petition to the House.
What happens after the petition has been presented?
A copy of each petition presented in the Legislative Council is forwarded to the relevant minister for his or her consideration.
A summary of the text of each petition is also recorded in both the Minutes of Proceedings for that day and in Hansard.
Fact sheet 14
A template for a petition to the Legislative Council can be found here.
Petitions presented this session
A list of all petitions presented this parliamentary session can be found here