This report argues that the full potential for petitions to make a difference is not currently realised. The committee recognises that citizens (and other residents) now have other avenues for influencing the political process – through the Ombudsman or by forming a lobby group – but believes that these alternative routes should not be allowed to deny Australians the fundamental right to communicate directly with the people’s House. If petitioning is no longer considered effective, the reasons for this should be identified and addressed. One aspect of this is to bring petitioning into the 21st century by introducing e-petitioning.
“However,” says the committee, “we do not want to create false expectations. It is not enough to improve the tools of petitioning. Ensuring that petitions make a difference involves changing the ways in which the House responds to petitions. This report records how we think this can be done.”