A petition is basically a request for action. The right to petition Federal Parliament has been one of the rights of citizens since federation, and it is the only way an individual can directly place grievances before the Parliament.
Petitions may be received by the House on public or individual grievances provided that they relate to matters on which the House has the power to act. Hundreds of petitions are received by the House every year on a variety of matters. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Petitions receives and processes petitions on behalf of the House. It is able to inquire into and report on matters relating to petitions following their tabling in the House, and the petitioning system in general
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. (See Chapter 2, Australian Senate Practice, Parliamentary Privilege, Circulation of petitions.)
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