Australia system of legislature and governance is based on a Westminster system. In essence, this as a name given to a parliamentary democracy, the very same that is used in Canada, New Zealand and Britain. There are a lot of people who are at loss of how the system operates and ask myriads of questions. Of the questions the most that is asked is concerning petitions.
What is a petition?
A petition is a written document with a list of signatures from members of the legislative assembly that can be obtained by any member of the public asking for an action to be taken by the assembly concerning a grievance. A petition must address issues that relates to the jurisdiction of the ACT assembly. Credit goes to Kooblals Lawyers Williamstown for putting together this information.
There are rules that are set out in the standing orders. These include the following:
- A petition must be an original sheet signed by members of the ACT who support the petition.
- The request must be written on any page that contains the signature. The signatures are required to be originally entered and not photocopied or copy pasted.
- The petition must contain relevant and reasonable information.
- A petition cannot originate or distributed by a member of the legislative assembly of the ACT.
- The petition can only be written in English or accompanied with a certified translation addressing the Speaker and members of the Legislative Assembly.
- A petitioner should forward the petition to a member and then ask them to present it to the Assembly.
- Agreement by a member to forward the petition to the assembly doesn’t imply that the member supports the contents.
Presentations of the petition requires that the document be lodged with the Clerk by 5:00 pm through a member of the assembly. The petition is then checked by the Clerk for compliance with the rules. After this, the petition is hence presented to the Assembly upon its opening by the Speaker. The Clerk then states the member lodged the petition, the number of signatures and the request that is being made. The petition will not be debated by the Assembly upon presentation but a time is set aside as regards its attendance. When the presentation has been made, the terms of the petition are printed in the Hansard but without the signatures.
e- Petitions allow for members of the public to make presentations of the petition electronically. The difference here is in the process where the petition is posted in the Assembly’s website for signing then the hard copy produced upon its closure.
Once a presentation is made to the Assembly, the Clerk will then refer a copy to the relevant minister for information or action. Response from the minister concerning the petition is to be lodged with a Clerk, this response is then announced at a subsequent sitting which should be within three months. Petitions inform the members of the assembly and the government about the opinions that the public hold. A petition also highlight any concerns members of the ACT community might have.