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STANDING ORDERS—AMENDMENTS

Mr Reith (Leader of the House), pursuant to notice, moved—That the following changes to the standing orders be made with effect from the first sitting in 2001:

(1) That standing orders 112 to 120 be amended to read as follows:

CHAPTER IX

PETITIONS

Preparing a petition

What must be in a petition

112 A petition for presentation to the House must:

 (a) be addressed to the House of Representatives.

(b) refer to a matter which is within the power of the House of Representatives to address, that is, a Commonwealth legislative or administrative matter.

(c) state the facts which the petitioners wish to bring to the notice of the House.

(d) contain a request for the House or the Parliament to take one or more specified actions.

How a petition should be prepared

113 A petition must conform to the following requirements:

 (a) It must be on paper.

(b) It must be legible.

(c) It must be in the English language or be accompanied by a translation certified to be correct. The person certifying the translation must place his or her name and address on the translation.

(d) The text of the petition must not contain any alterations.

(e) It must not have any letters, affidavits or other documents attached to it.


(f) The language used must be respectful, courteous and moderate. The petition should not contain irrelevant statements.

(g) It must not contain any indication that it has been sponsored or distributed by a Member of the House of Representatives; except that, for the purpose of facilitating the lodgement of the petition, the name and address of a Member may be shown as an address to which the petition may be sent for presentation to the House.

(h) A petition from a corporation should be made under its common seal. Otherwise it will be received as the petition of the individuals who signed it.

Rules about signatures

114 Every petition must contain the signature and address of at least one person on the page on which the terms of the petition are written.

All the signatures on a petition must meet the following requirements:

 (a) Every signature must be written on a page bearing the terms of the petition, or the action requested by the petition. Signatures must not be copied, pasted or transferred on to the petition nor should they be placed on a blank page on the reverse of a sheet containing the terms of the petition.

(b) Each signature must be made by the person signing in his or her own handwriting. A petitioner who is not able to sign must make a mark in the presence of a witness. The witness must sign the petition as witness and write his or her address, and the name and address of the petitioner.

Presentation to the House

Only a Member may lodge a petition for presentation

115 A petition for presentation to the House may only be lodged by a Member. A Member cannot lodge a petition from herself or himself.

Responsibilities of Members

116 Before lodging a petition with the Clerk or presenting a petition to the House a Member must:

 (a) write his or her name and electoral division at the beginning of the petition; and

(b) count the signatories and write the number of signatories at the beginning of the petition.

Presenting a petition

117 Petitions may be presented to the House in one of the following ways:

 (a) In accordance with standing order 101, the Clerk must announce each sitting Monday petitions lodged for presentation. Members must lodge petitions with the Clerk by 12 noon on the Friday prior to the Monday on which it is proposed that they be presented.


(b) A Member may present a petition during the period of Members' statements under standing order 106A or 275A.

(c) A petition which refers to a motion or order of the day may be presented by a Member when that motion or order of the day is moved or called on for the first time.

Before presenting a petition under paragraph (b) or (c) the Member presenting it must insert the information required by standing order 116 and obtain a certification by the Clerk that it complies with the standing orders.

Responsibilities of Clerk

118 (a) The Clerk or the Deputy Clerk must check that each petition lodged for presentation complies with the standing orders. If it does he or she shall certify the fact on the petition.

(b) The Clerk must make an announcement to the House of the petitions lodged for presentation. The announcement must indicate, for each petition, the Member who lodged it, the identity and number of petitioners and the subject matter of the petition.

Action on petitions

Action by the House

119 (a) No discussion on the subject matter of a petition is allowed at the time of presentation.

(b) Every petition presented is deemed to have been received by the House unless a motion that it not be received is moved immediately and agreed to.

(c) No other motion may be moved in connection with a petition except a motion that a particular petition be:

 (i) referred to a particular committee; or

(ii) printed. This motion may only be moved by a Member who intends to take action on the petition and informs the House of the action he or she intends to take.

Other action

120 The following action shall be taken in respect of every petition received by the House:

 (a) Its terms must be printed in Hansard.

(b) The Clerk must refer a copy of the petition to the Minister responsible for the administration of the matter which is the subject of the petition. A Minister may respond to a petition by lodging a written response with the Clerk. At the end of the petitions announcement the Clerk must report any response received and the response must be printed in Hansard.

(2) That standing order 346 be amended to read as follows:


Publication of evidence and proceedings

346 (a) A committee or subcommittee has power to authorise publication of any evidence given before it or any document presented to it.

 (b) The evidence taken by a committee or subcommittee and documents presented to it, and proceedings and reports of it, which have not been reported to the House, must not, unless authorised by the House or the committee or subcommittee, be disclosed or published to any person other than a member or officer of the committee.

Provided that a committee may resolve to:

  (i) publish press releases, discussion or other papers or preliminary findings for the purpose of seeking further input to an inquiry;

(ii) divulge any evidence, documents, proceedings or report on a confidential basis to any person or persons for comment for the purpose of assisting the committee in its inquiry or for any administrative purpose associated with the inquiry; or

(iii) authorise any member or members of the committee to provide such public briefings on matters related to an inquiry as the committee sees fit. The committee may impose restrictions on such authorisation and in any case a member so authorised must not disclose evidence or documents which have not been specifically authorised for publication.

(3) That standing order 339 be amended by inserting new paragraph (ab) as follows:

 (ab) A committee may resolve to conduct proceedings using audio visual or audio links with members of the committee or witnesses not present in one place. If an audio visual or audio link is used committee members and witnesses must be able to speak to and hear each other at the same time regardless of location.

Debate ensued.

Question—put and passed.