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What is a petition?

What is a Petition?

Petitions are a tool that allow the community to bring their concerns directly to Parliament.

A petition must comply with the standing orders of the house in which it is presented. In short a petition must—

  • be addressed to the President of the Legislative Council or the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly;
  • contain the name, address and signature of each petitioner;
  • state the remedy that is being sought;
  • be tabled by a member of Parliament who has not signed the petition;
  • not make an application for a grant of money to be paid to an individual; and
  • not have documents attached to it.

Further information on lodging a petition in either house can be found under Petitioning the Legislative Council and Petitioning the Legislative Assembly.

Petitions that do not comply with the requirements under the standing orders cannot be accepted.

What happens to a petition?

A petition is tabled —

  • on behalf of the principal petitioner;
  • in its original form;
  • by the selected member of Parliament;
  • in the relevant house; and
  • at the time scheduled under the relevant Order of Business.

Petitions are not debated in either house.

If a petition is tabled in the Legislative Council it is automatically referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs for consideration. In the Legislative Assembly, a petition can be referred by motion to a Legislative Assembly committee.

Once tabled in the Legislative Council, a petition can be accessed in hard copy. A synopsis of the petition and the number of signatories are included on the website. Reports of the Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs on petitions (where a detailed investigation is conducted) are also available electronically on the website.

In the Legislative Assembly, copies of petitions are made available to members upon request, but not to third parties. The name of the tabling member and a synopsis of the petition are provided on the website.

Once tabled, details of the petition can be found through the petitions or Tabled Papers search under Parliamentary Business.

Petitioning the Legislative Council

Review by the Environment and Public Affairs Committee (Legislative Council)

The Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs reviews petitions to help provide a forum for public discussion on matters of community interest. This helps interested parties to bring their concerns to the attention of Parliament.

The committee will usually seek a short submission from the tabling member and principal petitioner on matters raised in the petition.

The committee may then conduct further investigations by writing to other stakeholders such as government agencies, local government, private organisations and sometimes individuals.

After receiving responses from the relevant stakeholders, the committee reviews all the information it has on the petition and decides how to move forward.

Options include —

  • scheduling public or private hearings;
  • visiting sites;
  • referring to another Legislative Council Committee if the petition falls under its terms of reference; and
  • commencing a formal inquiry and seeking further submissions. For further information on the inquiry process see How Committees Work.

When the committee is satisfied with its investigations, it may table a report, including findings and recommendations, in the Legislative Council. The report will usually be debated after the government response has been tabled. Government responses are due within two months from the tabling of the report.

The committee will always advise the tabling member and principal petitioner of the outcome of its investigations. The principal petitioner is responsible for advising the co-signatories of the outcome.

To find out the status of a petition, visit the Petitions landing page. This will advise whether a petition is current or finalised, and will also give you access to public documents in relation to the petition.

The Petitions landing page also includes a link to petitions from a previous Parliament.