First citizens’ jury hearings an opportunity to get deliberative democracy right

The ACT’s first-ever citizens’ jury will commence this weekend (14-15 October 2017). These initial jury hearings are an important opportunity to get deliberative democracy right, and to demonstrate the value that deliberative process can deliver to our Canberra community.

The Greens believe that getting citizens more involved in government decision-making is one way to improve confidence in democracy and deliver outcomes that meet the community’s real needs. This is why we included a commitment to greater deliberative democracy as part of the Greens-Labor Parliamentary Agreement.

I will be attending the first citizens’ jury trial hearings on Saturday, and am pleased that the Government has committed to a transparent and accountable process by inviting members of the public and stakeholders to observe the hearings.

Earlier this year the Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy (CAPAD) and the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) developed a set of principles to ensure that deliberative democracy processes are trialled in a robust, respectful and informed way.

It’s these principles that we will be ensuring are closely followed as the jury process develops:

  • A fair spread of information to be provided to the jury;
  • Sufficient time provided for deliberation;
  • Opportunities for the wider public to be regularly updated on the jury’s progress; and
  • Evaluation of the successes and failures of the trial to be made public.

Compulsory third-party insurance (CTP)

The topic selected for this first citizen’s jury—compulsory third-party insurance—may not be the world’s most interesting subject.

I understand that the issues involved in CTP are many and complex, and have attracted impassioned responses from community members and stakeholders ahead of the first hearings. The hearings are important as they will allow the citizens’ jury to hear from all sides, not just those who have the money to advertise and promote their interests.

To ensure the issues examined through citizens’ juries are issues on which the community wants to be heard and considers meaningful, I am also encouraging the Government to seek community input on the subject of any future juries.

I look forward to seeing the process first-hand this weekend, and to learning more about the outcomes of this important step forward in the way we engage with the community.