How to petition the Senate

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Individuals and organisations may seek to have petitions presented to the Senate. Petitions generally express views on matters of public policy and ask the Parliament to take – or in some cases, not to take – a particular course of action.

Preparation

When preparing a petition, there are certain rules that need to be followed in order for it to be accepted by the Senate (see standing order 70):

  • the petition must be addressed to the Senate
  • it must contain a request for action by the Senate or the Parliament
  • the text of the petition must be visible on every page
  • only original documents will be accepted – no faxes or photocopies
  • no letters, affidavits, or other documents can be attached

See below for a sample format of a petition.

If you require assistance, a draft of your petition may be emailed to the Petitions Officer to ensure that it conforms with the standing orders or, alternatively, you can call 02 6277 3014.

Presentation

Only a senator may present a petition, so you will need to forward your petition to a senator and request that he or she present it. The list of senators shows you those who represent your state or territory.

Electronic petitions

The Senate will accept a print out of a petition that has been posted on an internet page and that people have ‘signed’ by submitting their names and email addresses.

Petitions that are posted and signed electronically are accepted if the senator presenting the petition certifies that they have been duly posted with the text available to the signatories. In presenting an electronic petition, the senator lodges a paper document containing the text of the petition and a list of the signatures submitted.

The rules set out in standing order 70 also apply to electronic petitions.

What happens next?

Petitions are announced in the Senate and the full text of each petition is printed in Hansard.

Petitions presented to the Senate are brought to the notice of the appropriate Senate committee. A committee may seek a reference from the Senate into the issues contained in a petition, or may use the petition as evidence in a related inquiry.

Petitions and privilege

The presentation of a petition to the Senate is a proceeding in Parliament and is protected by Parliamentary Privilege. The publication of a petition before presentation is not similarly protected. For further information see Odgers’ Australian Senate Practice, Chapter 2, under Circulation of Petitions.

Sample format of a petition

To the Honourable President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:

The petition of the undersigned shows:

(state grievance or subject of complaint)

Your petitioners ask that the Senate:

(state the action required)

Name

Address

Signature

 

 

 

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