e-Petitions to Wellington City Council

Listed in today’s Dominion Post alongside the normal array of city council notices about street closures, planning exercises and evensts like the Malaysian festival on Saturday, was a small notice about a new online tool for citizens. Now available on the Wellington City Council website is an e-Petitions generator.

This new online democratic tool allows anyone to create an e-Petition to collect signatures about any issue the Wellington City Council is responsible for. After the closing date, the petition will be presented to the appropriate Council or committee meeting.

It looks a simple process to create a petition. Just fill out a simle online form with your contact details and the question. The hard bit will be promoting the petition. Petitioners are advised that the ‘principal petitioner’ is responsible for raising awareness of the e-Petition.

Now, the Council does reserve the right to reject what it considers unsuitable petitions. The good thing is all declined e-Petitions will be listed with the reason why. When I checked, no-one has started a genuine petition.

The Council is probably the first in the country to try using e-petitions, but they are in good company. For several years the Queensland government has run e-petitions, recognition of which has been incorporated into legislative assembly standing orders. At the moment 11 peitions are listed, most with 100 or fewer signatures.

Earlier this year a massive response to an e-petition on road pricing hosted on the former UK prime minister’s website caused politicians to closely examine the pros and cons of e-petitions. Apparently, Tony Blair sent a personalised email response to each petitioner. 10 Dowling Street still host e-petitions. Included among currrent e-petitions is one promoting a ban on the sale of bicycles – something outside the jurisdiction of any government I would have thought. Less frivolous e-petions are calling for proposed restrictions regarding photography in public places to be dumped and a change to the timing of student loan interest repayments, from annually to monthly deductions.

You’ve still got a chance to be run Wellington’s first e-petition. I’ll update this post when I find out what the first e-petition citizens are invited to sign.

Updated: the first e-petition went live on 14 August. The petition calls for an increase to the level of income long-term tenants living in WCC owned properties can earn. Just one signature to date, but good luck to Adam Russell for bringing this up.