[LINK] Electronic petitions to Parliament
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Wed Mar 2 17:17:46 EST 2011
Philip and Bernard write,
>> John Murphy, Member for Reid, mentioned in this speech to Federal
>> Parliament yesterday that electronic petitions were imminent:
>> 10473#g16.2 - not before time!
> .. Anyway, those working in the field may already know about the
> EU - EuroPetition project. More details are at
Queensland has had e-Petitions since 2002, and now Tasmania. It appears
to have been increasingly successful, and certainly quite economical in
terms of set-up ($80,000) & staffing (one 0.4 staff member). Queensland
also offers their system to Canberra for use in this letter below ..
Mrs Julia Irwin MP
Chair, Standing Committee on Petitions
PO Box 6021
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Dear Mrs Irwin (snip)
The Queensland Parliament was the first in Australia to introduce
electronic petitioning as an alternative to the traditional method of
petitioning in 2002.
The model adopted in Queensland is one where e-petitions seek to
complement, rather than to replace, paper petitions. E-petitions for
electronic signing are actually hosted on the Parliament's website,
rather than through a third party.
>From this site citizens can locate e-petitions, find out information
about the status of, or join a current e-petition. In addition, with the
assistance of a sponsoring Member, persons may start an e-petition as the
The Clerk of the Parliament checks the application of the principal
petitioner for compliance with Standing Orders before publishing the
petition on the website. The processes of opening, joining, closing and
disposing of details and deletion of a petition are detailed in two
The Legislative Assembly amended its Standing Rules and Orders on 27
November 2003 to make e-petitions a permanent feature of the Queensland
Parliament (see Chapter 21)
The role of Members in e-petitioning
In the Queensland model a Member of Parliament must first sponsor an e-
petition before it can be posted on the website to collect signatures
whereas a traditional paper petition must be presented by a Member of
Parliament for tabling once the signatures have been collected.
The relevant Member that sponsors a petition also receives a copy of any
Privacy and security concerns
The e-petitions website includes a detailed privacy statement
Petitioners' details are deleted from electronic storage in accordance
with the data retention policy at a maximum of 6 months after the tabling
The names and addresses of signatories are not available on the website.
However printed copies of the tabled e-petition are available upon
request to the public as is the case with paper petitions.
Following consideration of several authentication options it was resolved
that there was no practical means to authenticate petitioners' personal
details in an online environment that was universally available or
Whilst e-petition signatories are required to supply an e-mail address
there is no way to authenticate that address so the authentication is
The financial and resource implications of an e-petitions system
The introduction of e-petitions involved the establishment of a dedicated
database and website. The petitions website and associated e-petitions
system was developed in house by the Parliamentary Service.
The initial design and implementation cost was in the vicinity of
$80,000. This included hardware purchase (server), software (Microsoft
SQL server licences) and the notional time of an in-house software
developer (software design).
The Tasmanian Parliament has adopted the Queensland E-petition model and
uses the system and software under nominal license fee. Should the House
of Representatives wish to use the Queensland system and software
developed it can be arranged under a licensing agreement for a nominal
The processes are not completely automated and require some data input
and processing from Parliamentary Service staff including the follow up
process of posting Ministerial responses on the site. Total maintenance
of the site is estimated at about .4 of a full time equivalent officer.
The experience of other relevant jurisdictions, both in Australia and
The Queensland user's perspective was sought via an optional visitor's on-
line survey conducted between April 2003 and May 2005. A total of 736
person responded to the survey which represents 3.5% of the 21,300
signatures on e-petitions received during the same period. Generally
speaking respondents found the e-petitioning process and website easy to
use and supported the view that e-petitioning is a useful opportunity for
The key findings of the survey are detailed at pages 9 to 13 of the
attached paper "E-Petitions the Queensland Experience".
The Queensland experience is that the number of petitions is generally
increasing along with the growth of a number of e-petitions (see Figure 1
of the attached Procedural research paper 1/08).
Since e-petitioning was introduced in late 2002 the number of tabled
Ministerial responses has increased significantly (see Figure 3 of
attached Procedural research paper 1/08). However, there is currently no
compulsion for a Ministerial response to a petition within a specified
timeframe. An argument could be made that a time limit for responses to
petitions might increase Ministerial accountability. The Standing Orders
Committee is currently considering amendments to Standing Orders and
should report in the near future and may include amendments to
ministerial response requirements.
Should your committee require any further information please don't
hesitate to contact the Clerk of the Parliament, Mr Neil Laurie on 07
3406 7185 or neil.laurie at parliament.qld.gov.au.
HON MIKE REYNOLDS AM MP
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland
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