Melbourne’s People’s Panel

In 2014, the Melbourne council commissioned a citizens’ jury of residents and business owners to make recommendations on a $5 billion financial plan for the council. 43 randomly-selected citizens met for a period of six weekends to set the long-term direction of the city’s fiscal policy in what became known as the “Melbourne People’s Panel”. They were given open access to information and financial data by the council, along with briefings by experts, senior bureaucrats and councillors. Like a jury, they deliberated and delivered a verdict in the form of a report covering priority projects, services, revenue and spending. Nearly all of their recommendations were subsequently adopted by the city government, including allowing debt ratings to fall to AA, selling off non-core assets, and lifting developer contributions.