For the first time since Federation, the House of Representatives will establish a new Petitions Committee, to make sure that millions of Australians who petition their Members of Parliament can have their voices heard.
Leader of the House, Anthony Albanese, made the announcement today to accompany the release of a full list of House of Representatives Committees (see list below).
“The new Petitions Committee, consisting of 10 Members of Parliament (6 Government and 4 Opposition Members), will receive and consider petitions lodged and report on appropriate action.
“More than one million Australians signed over 900 petitions to the House of Representatives between 2004 and 2007. The previous Federal Government responded to only two of these.
“Almost 15,000 Australians petitioned the previous Government in 2007 for a Commonwealth Dental Scheme – which the Rudd Labor Government pledged to introduce during the election.
“All petitions will require a principal sponsor, an Australian citizen, so that the Petitions Committee can liaise with petitioners.
“The Committee will also consider moving to electronic petitions, as the UK Government has done.
“Petitioners will no longer require a Member of Parliament to sponsor their petition – that’s the right of citizens. Parliamentarians will be able to assist sponsors in gathering signatures.
“Since Federation, petitions have gathered dust in the bowels of Parliament, largely ignored.
“The creation of the Petitions Committee is an important reform which strengthens the democratic rights of citizens and ensures that Parliament is listening and responding appropriately.
“Overall the number of House committees has been reduced by two. The Selection Committee has been abolished, and Members’ Interests and Privileges Committees have been amalgamated.
“The selection of Private Members Business to be debated, formally undertaken by the Selection Committee, will now be agreed upon by the two Chief Whips.
“The Rudd Labor Government is committed to boosting parliamentary democracy and scrutiny.”
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEES
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
Primary Industries and Resources
Education and Training
Employment and Workplace Relations
Climate Change, Water, Environment and the Arts
Family, Community, Housing and Youth
Health and Ageing
Industry, Science and Innovation
Infrastructure, Regional Development and Local Government
Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Members’ Interests and Privileges