Thursday, 5 May 2016
Petitions Committee; Report
On behalf the Standing Committee on Petitions, I present the committee's report, entitled The work of the Petitions Committee: 2013-2016, together with the minutes of the proceedings.
Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).
by leave—It has been a privilege to serve on the Petitions Committee for two terms. In the last parliament I was deputy chair and for this term I was chair of the Petitions Committee. This committee has a significant function for the parliament, and that is to give voice to people and what they believe so that the parliament can see what people out there are thinking. The benefit of having petitions is that, when the petitions are found in order, they are forwarded to a minister for response. This is something that does not necessarily happen when people write letters directly to a minister, so it is a significant benefit to the community. An important issue with the committee is that the committee needs to continue to evaluate petitions purely against the standing order requirements. There is a potential danger: you might have a committee evaluating a petition based on content and the perceived views of the committee on content. We must ensure that that is never the case. We must ensure that petitions that are tabled and presented to ministers are representative of what people think, whether or not we happen to agree with what is in the content of those petitions.
I will not hold up the parliament for too long, but I would certainly like to thank my deputy chair and all members of the committee. Most particularly, I would like to thank the secretariat: Sharon Bryant, and Catherine Cornish before, Pauline Cullen and other members of the committee for the sterling work that they do. The work of the secretariats of all committees is, I venture to say, very much unsung in this place. I know that people do acknowledge it, but, for people out there in the community who might be listening to this, the secretariats of the committees in parliament work very hard to ensure the smooth running of this place. I commend them for that.