Each sitting day in the House, the Clerk announces the receipt of petitions from Members. Petitions presented to the Legislative Assembly are required to conform with the following principles as set out in Chapter 9 of the Standing Orders:
- be addressed to the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly in Parliament assembled.
- be clearly written, typed or printed and not have anything attached to it and not contain any alterations.
- state the facts which the petitioners wish to bring to the notice of the House.
- conclude with a request that the House do, or do not do, something or take some course of action.
- contain at least one signature
- not make reference to debate in the House.
A copy of every petition received is referred to the Minister responsible for the subject contained in the petition and a copy of that letter is sent to the Member presenting the Petition. Ministers are required to lodge a response to a petition which 500 or more persons have signed within 35 calendar days from the date a petition is tabled. This response is tabled and published.
Administrative requirements regarding petitions are as follows:
- petitions must be lodged with the Clerk by 12 noon on the day it is to be reported. Petitions received after this time will be presented the following sitting day.
- Members must sign the front sheet and if applicable certify that the petition has 500 or more signatures.
- it is the responsibility of the Member to ensure that the Petition is in order.
Every petition presented is considered to be received by the House, unless the motion "that the petition be not received" is moved on the next sitting day and agreed to. No debate is permitted on the subject matter of petitions except by way of substantive motion.
The Member presenting the Petition cannot be a signatory.
Petitions are one of the most traditional Parliamentary processes, being the only means by which an individual can directly place grievances before the Parliament. Each sitting day in the House, the Clerk announces the receipt of petitions from Members.
Rules Regarding Form and Content of Petitions Presented to the Legislative Assembly
Standing Orders 119 - 125
set out the form and content of petitions, and the procedure for lodgement and presentation. These rules ensure the authenticity of petitions and provide protection to the petitioners and the House.
- Every petition should begin with the words "To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales in Parliament assembled". This is the preamble.
- The last paragraph of the body of each petition must set out the general objective sought by the petitioner(s) or the nature of the action sought. This concluding paragraph is the request.
- Each page of signatures must be headed with the words of the request.
- The paragraphs of the petition (containing the preamble, petitioners, grievance and request) may be written, typed or printed. Every signature must be original hand-writing, and signatures must not be pasted on, photocopied or transferred in any other way.
- The petition must not have any attachments, such as letters, affidavits, or other documents, except in the case of a petition for a private bill. Standing Order 358 sets out the special rules for private bills.
- The petition must be legible and contain no alterations.
- The petition must be in English or accompanied by a translation certified to be correct by the Member lodging the petition.
- The petition must be signed by the people whose names are listed, using their own signature or mark if they are unable to write. Every person signing a petition must write their address after their signature.
- The petition must not make reference to any debate in Parliament. The language used in the petition must be polite and respectful.
Click here for a sample petition form
- A Member presenting a petition on behalf of citizens must lodge it with the Clerk, in practice the Procedure Office, by 12 noon on the sitting day it is to be reported to the House. Petitions lodged outside a normal sitting week or during a prorogation are kept for presentation at the next sitting.
- Petitions can only be lodged for presentation to the Legislative Assembly by a Member of the Legislative Assembly. However, a petition may not be lodged by a Member who has signed it as a petitioner.
- The Member lodging the petition must sign the top of the front sheet. This signifies that the Member has ensured that the petition conforms with the Standing Orders as set out in the rules listed above. In addition, if a petition has 500 or more signatures the Member must certify this on the front sheet.
- The Clerk must also certify that each petition is in conformity with Standing Orders before it is reported to the House.
- The Clerk will announce the receipt of petitions to the House and the subject matter of the petition and the Member who lodged it will be published in the Votes and Proceedings and the text of each petition is printed in Hansard.
For further information on petitions in the Legislative Assembly, see:
Fact sheet 16 - Petitions
New South Wales Legislative Assembly Practice, Procedure and Privilege, Chapter 13
Supplement to New South Wales Legislative Assembly Practice, Procedure and Privilege, Chapter 13