Petitions to the Legislative Council
The use of petitions to bring matters to the attention of Parliament dates back many centuries. It is one of the oldest ways of bringing issues directly before elected members. In 1669 the House of Commons resolved that “it is the inherent right of every commoner … to prepare and present petitions to the House of Commons”.
Historically the presentation of petitions to Parliament has encouraged debate and reform on momentous social issues (the abolition of slavery, universal suffrage) and also to address local issues and grievances.
As the Australian parliaments were established in the nineteenth century they inherited and continued the practice of receiving petitions. Around this time the House of Commons, inundated by thousands of petitions every year, introduced a series of standing orders to govern what was acceptable to be received by the House. These standing orders provided the basis for the way in which petitions are received in the South Australian Parliament today.
To petition the Legislative Council of South Australia it is important that the rules are followed:
• the petition must be addressed to the Legislative Council
• it must be presented to the Chamber by a Member of the Legislative Council
• it must contain a prayer for action by the Legislative Council
• the full text of the petition must be visible on every page that is signed
• only original documents will be accepted (no photocopies)
• no other documents can be attached to the petition
• an English translation must be provided if the text of the petition is in another language
Standing Orders (Nos. 79 to 97) relating to the form and presentation of petitions to the Legislative Council can be found here.
A template setting out the form a petition to the Legislative Council might take can be accessed here.
Once received and Tabled in the Council, a petition is recorded in the official Minutes of the Proceedings of the Legislative Council and becomes a public document.
For further information and advice on initiating a petition to the Legislative Council, please contact the Office of the Clerk on 8237 9360 or at LCClerksOffice@parliament.sa.gov.au