Presenting a petition
Petitions may be presented to the Council in relation to three subject matters:
- Issues of significant interest
- Separate rates
- General matters
Issues of significant interest
Issues of significant interest are:
- matters a council declares to be such an issue
- matters the electors, by a petition made and accepted by the council, seek to be treated as such an issue.
Electors may petition the council to have a matter treated as an issue of significant interest to the community. Petitions for an issue to be treated as one of significant interest may instigate a public meeting or elector poll.
A petition must comply with the following requirements:
- be prepared in accordance with the prescribed form in Schedule 1 of the Local Government Regulations 1994
- contain a clear and concise statement identifying the matter
- be submitted to the Council's General Manager
- be signed by whichever is the lesser - 5% of the electors in the municipal area or 1,000 of the electors in the municipal area.
A petition is not to be made in relation to rates and charges if the Council has already determined the rates and charges applicable for the financial year. Petitions checked for compliance by the General Manager are then tabled as soon as practicable at an ordinary meeting of the council and are then taken to be accepted by the council.
The council must hold a public meeting to discuss the issue once council has accepted a petition relating to an issue of significant interest to the community. Alternatively, the council may decide to hold a public meeting to discuss any issue as determined by the council. Notice of the public meeting must be publicly displayed and published on at least three occasions in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area.
The council must invite the public to make written submissions on the issue of significant interest to the community. These submissions are to be lodged with the council within 21 days of the first publication of the notice. Any submission received is to be summarised and copies of that summary made available to those attending the public meeting.
The council may be required, in certain circumstances if a petition has been lodged, to hold an elector poll. The matter that is the subject of an elector poll is decided by a simple majority of the votes cast. It should be noted, however, that the result of an elector poll is not binding on the council.
A council may decide to hold an elector poll on any issue and conduct the poll in any manner as determined by council.
The General Manager determines whether or not the petition complies with the formal requirements. If it does not, the General Manager must inform one of the named proposers of the petition and the council, at its next meeting, of the reasons for the petition's non-compliance.
The Council may, by the vote of more than half of the total number of councillors, whether or not present at the meeting, make a separate rate in respect of land, or a class of land, within the municipal area.
The separate rate may be made:
- in addition to any other rates
- in respect of a financial year or part of a financial year
- for the purpose of planning, carrying out, making available, maintaining or improving anything that in the Council's opinion is, or is intended to be, of particular benefit to the affected land or the owners or occupiers of that land.
Ratepayers affected by the intention of the Council to make a separate rate may present a petition in the prescribed form to the Council within 30 days of the notice published in the local newspaper.
If at least 100 affected ratepayers or at least 10% of affected ratepayers, whichever is the lesser, present a petition the council must arrange a public meeting to discuss the issues.
Petitions for general matters may relate to any matter including requests for local infrastructure for which the Council is responsible, such as works on local roads.
A councillor may present a general matters petition to a meeting of the council. The person named as a proposer of a petition must ensure that the petition contains:
- a clear and concise statement identifying the subject matter
- a heading on each page indicating the subject matter
- a brief statement on each page of the subject matter and the action requested
- a declaration at the end of the petition that the proposer attests to the accuracy of each statement.
In addition it is necessary to :
- include the name, address and usual signature of the petitioner(s)
- give the petition to the Manager at least four (4) hours before the meeting to which it is to be presented.
The General Manager has the authority to edit comments that denigrate or criticise any person, including members of the council. The General Manager reads the petition to the meeting and the chairperson then invites a motion "that the petition be received". Usually, the petition is then accepted by the meeting and tabled.
Your local councillor may be able to assist you in preparing and presenting a petition. Visit the council's website or telephone the council to obtain the councillors' contact details.