An Introduction to Petitions
Petitions are documents used by persons to directly lobby representative bodies such as parliament or local governments about matters of public concern. A petition is basically a request for action. However, the subject of a Petition must be a matter on which the Council has the power to act.
Preparing a Petition
Care must be taken in the preparation of petitions. Before preparing a Petition, you are encouraged to read the following information. If a Petition does not comply with the specified requirements it will be returned to the person who submitted the petition.
Requirements for a Petition
There are no rules prescribed in the Local Government Act 1995 with regard to petitions. Accordingly, to assist persons with the preparation of a petition, it must comply with Council’s Local Law Standing Orders, which states:
(1) A petition is to—
(a) be addressed to the President;
(b) be made by electors of the district;
(c) state the request on each page of the petition;
(d) contain the name, address and signature of each elector making the request, and the date
each elector signed;
(e) contain a summary of the reasons for the request;
(f) state the name of the person to whom, and an address at which, notice to the petitioners can
(g) be respectful and temperate in its language; and
(h) comply with any form prescribed by the Act and any other written law, such as the Local
Government (Constitution) Regulations 1998 if, for example, it is—
(i) a proposal to change the method of filling the office of President;
(ii) a proposal to create a new district or boundaries of the Shire;
(iii) a request for a poll on a recommended amalgamation; or
(iv) a submission about changes to wards, the name of a district or ward or the number of
Councillors for a district or ward.
Additionally, the Petition must:
- be polite;
- be legible, being either clearly written, typed or printed and correctly addressed;
- be in English or be accompanied by a certified translation;
- contain at least six (6) signatures; and
- be an original document.
The Petition must not:
- have any crossing out or erased passages in the reasons for the Petition or the request for action;
- contain signatures copied or pasted onto the Petition;
- have other documents attached to the Petition;
- contain irrelevant statements;
- be defamatory; or
- promote illegal acts.
Who Can Sign a Petition
A Petition needs to have at least six (6) signatures to be accepted, however it will appear more representative of community feeling if it is signed by as many people as possible. Any adult can sign a Petition and signatories must sign for themselves except in cases of sickness and incapacity. Those who cannot sign their own name may make their mark. The signature and address of a witness should accompany this mark. Petitions of corporations may be made under their common seal.
Submitting a Petition
The Petition should be sent to the Chief Executive Officer, either in hard copy (Locked Bag 6225, Collie WA 6225) or electronically. If submitted electronically, the original document must also be sent to the Chief Executive Officer.
All Petitions will be recorded and an acknowledgement letter will be sent to the person who lodged the Petition. Generally, an acknowledgement will not be sent to all signatories of the Petition.
What Happens After a Petition Has Been Presented?
Petitions, which comply with the specified requirements and the Council’s Local Law relating to Standing Orders, will be submitted to the next Ordinary Council Meeting. This involves reading the Petition (or a summary version) at the meeting. A report is then prepared by the Council’s Administration for the consideration of the Council. This normally takes 3-6 weeks, depending upon the matters to be researched etc.
Special Meetings of Electors
Request for a Special Meeting of Electors
Persons wishing to petition the Council for a special meeting of electors are strongly encouraged to contact the CEO (9734 9000 or email) for advice concerning the matter.
Special meetings of electors are prescribed by s5.28 of the Local Government Act 1995 which states:
“5.28. Electors’ special meetings
(1) A special meeting of the electors of a district is to be held on the request of not less than –
(a) 100 electors or 5% of the number of electors – whichever is the lesser number; or
(b) 1/3 of the number of council members.
(2) The request is to specify the matters to be discussed at the meeting and the form or content of the request is to be in accordance with regulations.
(3) The request is to be sent to the mayor or president.
(4) A special meeting is to be held on a day selected by the mayor or president but not more that 35 days after the day on which he or she received the request.”
Generally, the following procedures will apply to a Special Meeting of Electors:
1. This matter is prescribed by the Local Government Act 1995 (Sections 5.27-5.33) and Local Government (Administration) Regulations 1996 (Regulations 16-18).
2. Upon receiving of the required number of Electors on the Request for a Special Meeting of Electors form (see Related Documents panel), the President will convene a meeting – which must be held within 35 days of the receipt of the Petition. The meeting time, date and venue is required to be advertised on a local basis in a newspaper circulating in the town (e.g. community newspaper or The West Australian), a minimum of fourteen (14) days prior to the meeting date.
3. Only matters specified in the Electors’ Petition can be discussed at the meeting.
4. Only Electors are entitled to vote at the meeting. Names and addresses will be checked upon arrival at the meeting. With the permission of the Presiding Member, non-Electors can speak (but not vote). Electors will be provided with an “Elector Voting Paper”. Voting is not compulsory. All decisions are to be made by a Simple Majority of votes. Secret voting is not permitted.
5. Minutes of the Meeting will be kept and made available for public inspection, five (5) days after the meeting date.
The meeting procedure is prescribed by Section 5.31 of the Local Government Act 1995 and Regulation 18 of the Local Government (Administration) Regulations 1996. The Presiding Member will Chair the Meeting, in accordance with Section 5.30(1) of the Act.
The following procedures will normally apply to the meeting (unless changed by the Presiding Member):
2. Welcome and Introduction.
4. Business to be discussed – as stated in the Request for a Special Meeting of Electors form.
5. Questions and Answers:
– Speakers to state their name and address.
– Maximum speaking time per person is three (3) minutes.
6. Speakers “For” and “Against” alternatively / Consideration of Motions (if any).7. Close.
Consideration by the Council
Decisions made at a Special Meeting of Electors are required to be considered in accordance with s5.33 of the Local Government Act 1995, which states:
“5.33 Decision made at electors’ meetings
(1) All decision made at an electors’ meeting are to be considered at the next ordinary council meeting or, if that is not practicable –
(a) at the first ordinary council meeting after that meeting;
(b) at a special meeting called for that purpose,
whichever happens first.
(2) If at a meeting of the council a local government makes a decision in response to a decision made at an electors’ meeting, the reasons for the decision are to be recorded in the minutes of the council meeting.”
However, it should be noted that any decisions made at a Special meeting of Electors are not binding on the Council.
Chief Executive Officer
9734 9000 or colshire(at)collie.wa.gov.au