The following information has been prepared to assist residents and organisations who wish to present a petition to Council.
Any letter signed by more than one person falls within the definition of a joint-letter. There are times when a large number of people have signed the letter believing that they are presenting a petition.
It is important that individuals who record their details on a petition are fully aware of the following:
In complying with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic), Council advises that personal information provided as part of the petition will only be used for the primary purpose for which it was provided – that is, to consider the petition.
As part of Council’s operations, any document incorporated into a Council agenda must be made publically available, including any petitions which are tabled.
“A petition is defined as a formal written application, typed or printed without erasure, signed by at least 12 people, whose names and physical addresses also appear and on which each page of the petition bears the wording of the whole petition.”
An example of the introductory wording and format (including table) of a petition may include:
To the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Whitehorse
We the undersigned, being residents and ratepayers of the City of Whitehorse, request the Council to ……… (insert details here of what you want Council to do)
NOTE: Each page of the petition must have exact same introductory wording and format.
Clause 17 of Council’s Meeting Procedures and Common Seal Local Law 2013, specifically provides that:
17.1 A petition must not be presented at a meeting of Council or received by Council unless:
17.1.1 Each page of the petition bears the whole of the wording of the petition.
17.1.2 In addition to the signature/s of the petitioners the name/s and physical address/es of all persons who signed the petition are detailed in the petition.
17.1.3 The petition and any letter or document presented with or accompanying the petition, the name/s and physical address/es of the person/s and/or organisation/s submitting the petition, letter or document appear on such petition, letter or document.
17.2 The Council may, by resolution, resolve to receive a petition that does not comply with one or all of sub clauses 17.1.1, 17.1.2, 17.1.3.
17.3 Petitions may be presented by Councillors at any Ordinary Meeting subject to the provisions of Clause 17.1.
17.4 When a petition presented to a meeting of the Council relates to an item of business on the agenda, the petition is to be considered by Council as part of its deliberations on such item.
17.5 Unless Council determines to consider it as an item of urgent business, no motion (other than a motion to receive the same) may be made on any petition, until the next Ordinary Meeting after that at which the petition has been presented.
A petition should not relate to a matter beyond the powers of the Council and must not be defamatory, indecent, abusive or objectionable in language or substance.
How Does Council Handle Petitions?
- Any Councillor may lay a petition before Council and request that the petition be received. The petition is then received by resolution and referred to the appropriate officer for action and/or report to a future meeting of Council.
- The Council may, however, determine by resolution of those present that the matter contained in the petition is urgent and should be dealt with at the meeting at which it is presented (i) Where a petition is received through the mail, the Corporate Information Officer will determine whether the document is a petition and ensure that if it is, the petition is listed on the agenda for the next Council meeting, under the agenda item “No. 7 Petitions”.
- Signatures on petitions are checked for validity and duplication of names prior to the petition being presented.
- Every petition, whether presented via the Council Meeting or received in the mail, will be acknowledged as soon as possibly a reply to the persons lodging the petition, or the first named person on the petition if no indication is given as to who initiated the petition. The acknowledgement will include the name of the officer handling the matter and his/her telephone number. The appropriate officer will, at the conclusion of the investigation, advise the outcome of the investigation, advise the outcome of the petition to the same person who received the acknowledgement letter.
A joint letter is a letter, application, or objection from one or more persons on any subject which is not a petition.
What Does Council Do When It Receives a Joint Letter?
- A letter of objection received through the mail is dealt with in the same manner as any other item of correspondence and referred direct to the appropriate officer for action and/or report.
- Where appropriate, a summary of the letter (or objection) is included in the Officer’s Report to the relevant meeting.
- The first named signature of the letter shall be the person who will receive a response from Council on behalf of the other persons named in the letter.