From time to time a person may seek to lodge a petition with the Council for the purposes of bringing an issue of concern to the attention of the Council or a request for particular action to be taken on a matter or issue.
When preparing a petition it is important that it complies with the relevant requirements of the Local Government Act 1993.
A template petition is available at this link Petition Template. It is up to the person lodging the petition to ensure that the petition compiles with the requirements of the Local Government Act 1993.
If a petition does not comply with the relevant requirements then it will not be presented to the Council but will otherwise be dealt with by the Council as correspondence and responded to by Council Officers.
A person may lodge a petition with the Council by presenting it to a Councillor or the General Manager.
A person lodging a petition is to ensure that the petition contains:-
- a clear and concise statement identifying the subject matter; and
- a heading on each page indicating the subject matter; and
- a brief statement on each page of the subject matter and the action requested; and
- a statement specifying the number of signatories; and
- the full printed name, address and signature of the person lodging the petition at the end of the petition.
A Councillor who has been presented with a petition is to:
- table the petition at the next ordinary meeting of the Council; or
- forward it to the General Manager within seven days after receiving it.
The General Manager who has been presented with a petition or receives a petition from a Councillor is to table the petition at the next ordinary meeting of the Council.
A petition will not be tabled if:
- it does not comply with the above requirements; or
- it is defamatory; or
- any action it proposes is unlawful.
The General Manager is to advise the lodger of a petition that is not tabled the reason for not tabling the petition within 21 days after lodgement.
The General Manager is to give reasonable written notice to the person lodging the petition of when it is to be considered by the Council.
The Council is to record in the minutes of the meeting to which it is presented the subject matter and number of signatories of the petition.
The Council is to determine any action to be taken in respect of the petition within 42 days after it has been tabled and the lodger of the petition will be advised of that decision.
Petitions and Development Applications
From time to time petitions are prepared that relate to specific development applications before the Council. To be properly considered by Council in respect of that application, a petition must be lodged as a representation during the advertising period for that application.
Any compliant petition that relates to a development application that is not lodged during the advertising period will be considered by the Council, however, the petition cannot be considered as part of or affect the outcome of the development application.
This is due to the specific requirements for which Council deals with an application as a planning authority under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993.
There are also formal statutory matters for which a petition can be made which includes requesting a public meeting, an elector poll, petitions in respect of Council’s intention to levy special rates as well as requests for the Minister to require the Local Government Board to carry out a specific review of the Council.
Following is a description of the statutory petitions:
A petition may request that a Council hold a public meeting regarding the subject matter of the petition.
A Council must hold a public meeting if the petition complies with above requirements and it is signed by whichever is the lesser of the following:
- 5% of the electors in the municipal area;
- 1,000 of those electors.
A petition that requests a public meeting is not to be made in respect of any matter relating to rates and charges if those rates or charges have been made for the current financial year.
The General Manager is to advise the person lodging the petition whether it complies with the requirements for a petition seeking a public meeting and give reasonable notice of when the Council is to consider the petition.
Within 42 days after the petition is tabled at a Council meeting the General Manager is to advise the Council whether the petition complies with the requirements for a petition seeking a public meeting.
If the petition complies with the requirements for a petition seeking a public meeting, or the Council otherwise resolves to hold a public meeting regarding the subject matter of the petition, the Council is to hold a public meeting to discuss the subject matter of the petition within 30 days of the petition being discussed at the Council meeting.
Before holding a public meeting under the Council is to give notice –
- stating the date on which, and the time and place at which, the public meeting is to be held; and
- stating the details of the subject matter; and
- inviting written submissions in relation to the subject matter to be lodged with the General Manager.
A copy of the notice is to be published on at least two occasions in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area; and sent to the person who lodged the petition.
A submission must be lodged within 21 days after the first publication of the notice.
Any submission received is to be summarised by the General Manager in a document, copies of which are to be made available to those attending the public meeting.
The minutes of the next ordinary meeting of the Council following the public meeting are to record a summary of any submission received under this section; and any decision made at the public meeting.
Council may hold a public meeting on its own motion on any matter it considers appropriate.
Following a public meeting a petition may request an elector poll.
The Council must hold an elector poll if:
- a petition requesting the elector poll is received within 30 days after the public meeting is held in relation to the same subject matter as that contained in the petition requesting that public meeting; and
- the petition is signed by at least 5% of the electors in the municipal area or 1000 of those electors, whichever is the lesser; and
- the petition complies with the general requirements for petitions above.
If the person who lodged the petition agrees to an elector poll being held in conjunction with the next ordinary election; or a petition requesting an elector poll is received within 60 days before the notice of election for the next ordinary election then the elector poll may be held in conjunction with that next ordinary election.
An elector poll is to be –
- held within 60 days after the receipt of the petition, except if held at the next ordinary election as provided above; and
- held for the whole municipal area; and
- conducted as determined by the Electoral Commissioner or any other person authorised by the Council.
An elector poll held in conjunction with an election is to be conducted as determined by the Electoral Commissioner.
A matter which is the subject of an elector poll is to be decided by a simple majority of the formal votes cast.
The General Manager is to ensure that the result of an elector poll is published in a newspaper circulating in the municipal area.
A further elector poll on the same issue is not to be held until after the next ordinary election.
A Council is to discuss the result of an elector poll at its next ordinary meeting.
The result of an elector poll is not binding on a Council.
Council may hold an elector poll on its own motion on any matter it considers appropriate.
The Council may make a separate rate or separate charge in respect of land, or a class of land, within a part of its municipal area.
The separate rate or separate charge may be made –
- in addition to any other rates or charges; and
- in respect of a financial year or part of a financial year; and
- 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 or separate charge may lodge a petition to the Council in accordance with the general requirements for petitions above within 30 days of the date on which a notification is made in a newspaper under that notification is given of an intention to make a separate rate or charge.
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 involved.
The Council must consider any submission, petition or results of a public meeting before deciding –
- whether or not to make a separate rate or separate charge; or
- the area to which the separate rate or separate charge is to apply; or
- the amount of the separate rate or separate charge; or
- the period during which the separate rate or separate charge is to apply.
On receipt of a compliant petition the Minister for Local Government may require the Local Government Board to carry out a review of a Council in relation to one or more of the following:
- the governance and operations of a council;
- the boundaries of the municipal area and any electoral district;
- the naming of the municipal area, council and electoral district;
- the declaration of a municipal area or part of a municipal area as a city;
- the naming, or changing of the name, of a city;
- the creation or abolition of a municipal area or electoral district;
- the division of the municipal area into electoral districts;
- the combining of 2 or more municipal areas, parts of 2 or more municipal areas or 2 or more electoral districts;
- the creation or abolition of councils;
- the election of councillors of a municipal area;
- the total numbers of persons to be elected as councillors of a municipal area or in respect of each electoral district;
- any other factor;
- any matter referred to it by the Minister.
For this to occur the petition must comply with Section 57 of the Act and contain at least 20% of the electors of the municipal area.