Call for pe­ti­tions to go on­line


Cockburn Gazette - - NEWS - Bryce Luff

THE City of Cock­burn will ex­plore the idea of al­low­ing res­i­dents to start and sub­mit pe­ti­tions on its web­site.

Coun­cil­lor Lee-Anne Smith will put for­ward a ‘re­quest for a re­port with­out de­bate’ at the City’s monthly meet­ing this Thurs­day, giv­ing City of­fi­cers time to ex­plore the pros and cons of the idea be­fore bring­ing it back be­fore coun­cil­lors to con­sider.

Cr Smith was en­cour­aged to put for­ward the idea af­ter two com­mu­nity-driven pe­ti­tions were knocked back by the City in May.

Both had col­lected sig­nif­i­cant sup­port on­line but were re­jected be­cause they were not for­mat­ted in ac­cor­dance with the City’s stand­ing or­ders.

Cr Smith said Cock­burn could fol­low the lead of the Bris­bane City Coun­cil by al­low­ing res­i­dents to run and sub­mit “ePe­ti­tions” on­line through its web­site, an al­ter­na­tive op­tion to the cur­rent de­liv­ery of hard copy doc­u­ments.

“The dig­i­tal age is not go­ing to slow down,” she said.

“To­day busi­nesses and in­dus­try are in­ter­act­ing dig­i­tally with their cus­tomers and col­lect­ing vast amounts of con­sumer in­for­ma­tion in the process. This re­quest is driven by de­mand.”

Cur­rently, only pe­ti­tions which have the name, ad­dress and sig­na­ture of re­spon­dents are ac­cepted by the City of Cock­burn.

Gov­er­nance and com­mu­nity ser­vices direc­tor Don Green said pe­ti­tions pre­sented in this for­mat were more “au­then­tic be­cause of the time and ef­fort com­mit­ted by the pe­ti­tion or­gan­iser to gain sup­port for the out­come be­ing sought”. But he said the City was open to con­sid­er­ing a change to the laws in­tro­duced in 2000.

“There would need to be safe­guards in place to en­sure the in­tegrity of the process was not com­pro­mised and the par­tic­i­pants’ de­tails could be val­i­dated,” he said.

In a let­ter to Cr Smith from Bris­bane City Coun­cil, Lord Mayor Gra­ham Quirk said there tended to be peo­ple who signed pe­ti­tions from out­side the rel­e­vant bound­aries, but it was pos­si­ble to en­sure sig­na­to­ries were lo­cal.

Cr Smith agreed proper safe­guards would need to be in place.

Lo­cal Govern­ment Min­is­ter David Tem­ple­man said feed­back from ratepay­ers was im­por­tant.

“Coun­cils should ex­plore im­proved com­mu­ni­ca­tion meth­ods, in­clud­ing the po­ten­tial of on­line pe­ti­tions,” he said.

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