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Legislative Assembly guide to petitions

The right to petition Parliament

While the right to petition the Crown and Parliament dates back to Edward I, it was not until the last year of Richard II that Petitions were addressed to the House of Commons itself. The inherent right of citizens to petition the Parliament was confirmed by resolution of the House of Commons in 1669. This same right has been adopted by the Western Australian Parliament as part of our Westminster system of Parliament.

What is a petition?

Petitions allow citizens to request the Parliament to redress any personal, local or state-wide grievance they may have. Petitioners might ask for changes to a law or to have an administrative decision reconsidered. Petitions can also request the redress of a personal grievance, for example, the correction of an administrative error. They cannot, however, request the grant of public money direct to the petitioner or another individual.

Petition format

Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly set out how a Petition will be drawn up (see sample Petition at the end of this guide). A petition must be addressed to The Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly of the Parliament of Western Australia.

Presenting a petition

Petitioners cannot personally present a petition to the House. They must request a Member to present it to the House on their behalf; they may ask either their local Member of Parliament or another Member.

Standing Orders require that a Member of Parliament will, prior to presenting a petition to the House, forward the petition to the Clerks-at-the-Table who, if the petition is in order, will certify that the petition conforms with the Standing Orders. These Standing Orders are reprinted in the next section of this guide.

When presenting the petition, the Member rises to address the Speaker, announces the number of signatures, the subject of the petition and reads the requested action or remedy. The petition is then received by the Assembly. A summary of the text of the petition will then be recorded in the Assembly's Votes and Proceedings, and appears in full in Hansard.

Conformity with Legislative Assembly Standing Orders

Legislative Assembly Standing Orders set out some commonsense and simple rules governing the format and presentation of petitions. It is important that those preparing a petition keep these in mind before collecting signatures. This will avoid the possibility of the petition not being accepted.

The simple rules to follow are as below -

Contents of petitions:

64. A petition will -

  1. Be legible.
  2. Be addressed to the Speaker and the Assembly.
  3. State the action or remedy sought from the Assembly.
  4. Be in English or be accompanied by a translation certified to be correct by the lodging member.
  5. Contain at least one signature.
  6. Contain the action or remedy sought on the top of every sheet.
  7. Contain the names and addresses of the petitioners and their own signatures or marks, except in case of incapacity or sickness where someone else may sign on their behalf.
  8. Not contain signatures pasted or otherwise transferred to the petition.
  9. Be respectful and temperate in its language.
  10. If from a corporation, be made under its common seal.


Petitions will not contain:

65. A petition will not -

  1. Have letters, affidavits, or other documents attached to it.
  2. Be lodged by a member who has signed the petition as a petitioner.
  3. Make an application for direct grant of public money to be paid to an individual.

Procedure for lodgement and presentation

66. The procedure for the lodging and presentation of a petition will be -

  1. The member must write the number of signatures contained in the petition on the front sheet and sign the front sheet.
  2. The Clerk will certify on the petition that it is in conformity with the Standing Orders.
  3. The member presenting the petition will read the prayer, announce the subject matter of the petition and the number of signatures attached to it unless the Speaker determines otherwise.
  4. The petition will be received unless the Assembly or the Speaker determine otherwise.
  5. No discussion of the subject matter is allowed.

Petition referred to committee

67. A petition may be referred by motion to a committee.

All signatures must be original and photocopied or faxed petitions or pages thereof will not be accepted.

If you have any doubts about the format of a Petition, please contact one of the Legislative Assembly Clerks-at-the-Table on (08) 9222 7215.

e-Petitions

The Legislative Assembly has adopted a new Temporary Order regarding e-petitions be agreed to, for a trial period as follows:

  1. the trial shall commence on Tuesday, 13 February 2024;
  2. any posted period for an e-petition must not extend beyond Sunday, 11 August 2024;
  3. the last date for presentation of an e-petition by a Facilitating Member shall be Thursday, 15 August 2024;
  4. the trial period, and the Temporary Order, shall expire on Friday, 16 August 2024.

The content of the Temporary Order is below:

E-petitions

  1.  
    1. An e-petition is a petition -
      1. in the correct form prescribed by Standing Order 64;
      2. signed by the person promoting the petition (“the Principal Petitioner”) who must reside in Western Australia or, if a corporation, have its registered office in Western Australia;
      3. facilitated by a member (“Facilitating Member”) and lodged with the Clerk for publication on the Parliament’s website for a nominated period (“posted period”); and
      4. by which persons must indicate their support of (“join the petition”) by electronically providing their name, address (including postcode) and email address, and signifying their intention to join the petition.
    2. The posted period for an e-petition is to be a minimum of one week and a maximum of six months from the date of publication on the Parliament’s website.
    3. The Facilitating Member must provide the Clerk with the details of the petition in the correct form, the posted period and a signed acknowledgment that they are prepared to facilitate the e-petition.
    4. Once published on the Parliament’s website an e-petition cannot be altered other than by order of the Speaker.
    5. Once the posted period for an e-petition has elapsed, a paper copy of the petition shall be printed by the Clerk in full (including the details of the persons who joined the petition) and presented to the Assembly by the Facilitating Member.
    6. An e-petition published on the Parliament’s website, but not presented to the Assembly prior to the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly may be presented in the subsequent Parliament and become a petition of the subsequent Parliament.
    7. An e-petition may be facilitated during any adjournment of the Assembly but not during any period of prorogation.
    8. Persons must join an e-petition by filling out their correct details and personally agreeing to join the e-petition, and by no one else, except in the case of incapacity from sickness or disability.
    9. Only the name of the Principal Petitioner shall be made public on the Parliament’s website.
    10. Only residents of Western Australia will be eligible to join an e-petition.
    11. The Clerk may decline to publish an e-petition on the website not in conformity with this Order and shall advise the Facilitating Member accordingly.
    12. The Clerk is authorised to create and maintain an appropriate website on which to publish e-petitions and other explanatory information and do all things necessary in order to give effect to this Order.
    13. The Clerk must dispose of all electronic personal data relating to the posting and joining of an e-petition within six months after an e-petition is printed and presented to the Assembly.
    14. The Standing Orders for petitions have application to e-petitions insofar as they can be applied.
  2. The Standing Orders are suspended accordingly to the extent necessary to effect these arrangements.

Caution on Incentives

The Legislative Assembly of Western Australia strongly discourages offering any form of incentive, reward, or inducement to individuals in exchange for signing petitions. This includes, but is not limited to, monetary payments, gifts, discounts, or any other benefits. Violations of this prohibition undermine the integrity of the petition process. It is essential that all signatures on petitions are given freely and voluntarily to ensure a fair and transparent democratic process.

Sample petition format

PETITION

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly of the Parliament of Western Australia in Parliament assembled.


We, the undersigned, say

(outline situation which needs change)

 


Now we ask the Legislative Assembly

(detail the action which the Legislative Assembly should take)

 

NAME

ADDRESS

SIGNATURE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At least one signature on the face page is required.

The request for action must appear on each page which has signatures.