Thursday, 21 February 2019
Petitions Committee; Report
On behalf of the Standing Committee on Petitions, I present the committee's report entitled Your voice can change the future: inquiry into the future of petitioning in the House, together with the minutes of proceedings, and I seek leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.
Today I present the report of the Petitions Committee for theinquiry into the future of petitioning in the House, titled Your voice can change the future.Following the successful introduction of e-petitioning, the committee has taken the opportunity to review its own role and petitioning processes more broadly.
The committee compared its practices with other parliaments in Australia and overseas. We were particularly interested in some of the innovative reforms introduced by the UK House of Commons, such as holding parliamentary debates on petitions. These reforms have improved public engagement with petitioning, and have sparked greater interest in the wider workings of the UK parliament.
Initiating debate on petitions is an action currently available to members in the House during private members' business time. The committee encourages members to take up this opportunity in future parliaments.
In addition to this current practice, the committee recommends that petitions with at least 20,000 signatures should be considered for debate during a dedicated time in the Federation Chamber. Such a change would likely stimulate further public interest in petitioning in the House.
All Australians should have the opportunity to express themselves directly to the parliament.
The recommendations in this report aim to foster further public engagement in petitioning the House.
I would like to express my thanks to the deputy chair, the member for Richmond, and also to all my colleagues on the committee for their ongoing support of petitioning in the House. On behalf of the committee, I warmly extend my thanks to the inquiry participants, who prepared submissions or gave their time to the committee. In particular, I thank the parliamentarians and staff from other jurisdictions in Australia and overseas, who shared their experiences of petitioning for the benefit of the committee's considerations. Finally, may I sincerely thank the secretariat and staff for all their support and diligence during the inquiry.
I commend this report to the House of Representatives. On behalf of the committee I thank all Australians who continue to show interest in petitioning the House.