ACT Legislative Assembly

Rules concerning petitions

The Legislative Assembly’s standing orders provide the following general rules for petitions:

Petitions to be lodged with Clerk and to bear certificate
Every petition shall be lodged with the Clerk by 5 pm on the day previous to the meeting of the Assembly at which it is proposed that it be presented; when presented the petition must bear a certificate signed by the Clerk or the Deputy Clerk that it conforms with the standing orders.
Petitions which do not conform with the Standing Orders
Petitions which do not conform with the standing orders may be lodged with the Clerk and may be presented by a Minister in accordance with standing order 74. The Minister may indicate the subject matter of the paper and the number of signatories. (Adopted 4 May 1995. Amended 6 March 2008)
Time for presenting certain petitions
A petition referring to a motion or an order of the day may be presented when such motion or order of the day is called on. A petition presented in this manner must contain certification from the Clerk or Deputy Clerk that it is in order. (Amended 6 March 2008)
To be addressed to the Assembly and legible
Every petition shall be addressed to the Assembly, shall refer to a matter within the power of the Assembly, shall request action by the Assembly, and shall be fairly written, typewritten, printed or reproduced by mechanical process, without interlineation or erasure. (Amended 6 March 2008 and 29 November 2018)
To be from residents/citizens of the Australian Capital Territory
Petitions must only contain signatures of residents/citizens of the Australian Capital Territory. (Amended 6 March 2008)
To be in English or accompanied by translation
Every petition shall be in the English language or be accompanied by a translation certified to be correct. A person certifying a translation to be correct shall affix his or her name and address to the translation.
To be signed on the same sheet
Every petition shall contain the signature and address of at least one person on the sheet on which the petition is inscribed.
To be signed by persons themselves
Each signature must be made by the person signing in his or her own handwriting: provided that persons unable to write shall affix their marks in the presence of a witness, who shall, as such, also affix his or her signature and address, and the address of the petitioner. (Amended 6 March 2008)
Signatures not to be transferred
Every signature must be written on a page bearing the terms of the petition, or the action asked for by the petition. Signatures must not be copied, pasted or transferred on to the petition or placed on a blank page on the reverse of a sheet containing the terms of the petition. (Amended 6 March 2008)
To be received only as from persons signing
All petitions shall be received only as the petitions of the parties signing the same.
From corporations
A petition from a corporation must be made under its common seal; otherwise it will be received as the petition of the individuals who signed it. (Amended 6 March 2008)
Documents not to be attached
Letters, affidavits, or other documents, may not be attached to a petition.
Must be respectful and within ministerial responsibility
Every petition shall be respectful, decorous and temperate in its language, and shall not contain irrelevant statements. If, in the opinion of the Speaker, the subject matter is not within the ministerial responsibility of the Territory or is critical of the character or conduct of a person, contains unbecoming expressions, is not respectful, decorous or temperate in its language or offends any standing order other than those relating to petitions, the paper shall be returned to the Member who lodged it. (Amended 6 March 2008 and 29 November 2018)
Must be lodged by a Member
Petitions for presentation to the Assembly can be lodged with the Clerk only by Members, but Members cannot lodge petitions from themselves. Petitions shall be free from any indication that a Member may have initiated the petition. (Amended 6 March 2008 and 29 March 2012)
Members to sign and indicate number of petitioners
Every Member lodging a petition with the Clerk for presentation to the Assembly shall sign the beginning of that petition and indicate the number of eligible petitioners. (Amended 6 March 2008)
Standing orders to be observed
Every Member lodging a petition shall take care that the petition conforms to these standing orders. (Amended 6 March 2008)
Clerk to announce particulars of petitions lodged
The Clerk shall make an announcement as to the petitions lodged for presentation to the Assembly, indicating in the case of each petition the Member who lodged it, the identity and number of the eligible petitioners and the subject matter of the petition, and any Ministerial responses to petitions previously presented. (Amended 6 March 2008 and 29 November 2018)
Following the Clerk’s announcement of petitions and petition responses, the Speaker shall propose the question—That the petitions and responses so lodged be noted. The time allocated for the debate shall be 30 minutes with each member speaking for not more than 5 minutes. (Inserted 29 November 2018)
Question on presentation
Upon the presentation of a petition to the Assembly, or on the next sitting day, a Member may move without notice that a particular petition be referred to a committee. (Amended 6 March 2008)
Referred to committee
A petition and/or e-petition with at least 500 signatories in total from residents/citizens of the Australian Capital Territory presented to the Assembly on the same day shall be referred to the relevant Assembly standing committee for consideration. In the event that the subject matter of the petition makes it unclear which committee it should be referred to, the Speaker will determine the appropriate committee. (Adopted 19 November 2015. Amended 29 November 2018)
Referred to Ministers – Minister’s response
A copy of every petition and/or e-petition lodged with the Clerk and received by the Assembly shall be referred by the Clerk to the Minister responsible for the administration of the matter which is the subject of the petition. A Minister must respond to that petition within 3 months of the tabling of the petition by lodging a response with the Clerk for presentation to the Assembly, such response being announced at the end of the petitions announcement. (Amended 6 March 2008 and 29 November 2018)
Electronic petitions (“e-petitions”)
  1. An e-petition is a petition:
    1. in the correct form, stating a grievance and containing a request for action by the Assembly;
    2. sponsored by a Member and lodged with the Clerk for publication on the Assembly’s website for a nominated period (“posted period”); and
    3. in which persons elect to indicate their support (“join the petition”) by electronically providing their name, address (including postcode), 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 Assembly’s website.
  3. A Member sponsoring an e-petition 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 sponsor the e petition.
  4. Once published on the Assembly’s website an e-petition cannot be altered.
  5. Only one e-petition dealing with substantially the same grievance and requesting substantially the same action by the Assembly shall be published on the Assembly’s website at the same time.
  6. 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.
  7. An e-petition published on the Assembly’s website, but not presented to the Assembly prior to the expiration of an Assembly, may be presented to the subsequent Assembly to become a petition of the subsequent Assembly.
  8. An e-petition cannot be sponsored after the expiration of an Assembly and until the new Assembly has met and Members sworn.
  9. Persons may join an e-petition themselves and not on behalf of others, except in the case of a person who is not able to join due to an incapacity, in which case, with the agreement of that person, another person may join on behalf of that person.
  10. A person cannot sign or join the same e-petition more than once. (Adopted 29 March 2012. Amended 29 November 2018)
Duties and powers of the Clerk and Speaker regarding e-petitions
  1. The Clerk may decline to publish an e-petition on the Assembly’s website not in conformity with these standing orders and advise the sponsoring Member accordingly.
  2. The Clerk or a Member may seek a ruling from the Speaker about the conformity of any petition with these standing orders.
  3. The Clerk is authorised to create and maintain an appropriate website on which to publish electronic petitions, responses to petitions and explanatory information and do all things necessary in order to give effect to these standing orders.
  4. The Clerk must dispose of all electronic personal data related to the posting and joining of an e-petition within six months after an electronic petition is printed and presented to the Assembly. (Adopted 29 March 2012)
Application of standing orders to e-petitions
The standing orders relating to petitions apply to e-petitions insofar as they can be applied. (Adopted 29 March 2012)

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