A mini-public is a democratic innovation that brings together a small, representative group of citizens to deliberate and advise on a decision, or sometimes make a decision. Members of minipublics are often randomly selected from the community. Mini-publics include such innovations as citizen juries, deliberative polls, consensus conferences, and citizen assemblies.
Mini-publics are one expression of the theory of deliberative democracy. Deliberative democracy puts ‘communication and reflection at the centre of democracy’ so that democracy ‘is not just about the making of decisions through the aggregation of preferences’ but ‘also about processes of judgment and preference formation and transformation within informed, respectful, and competent dialogue’ (Dryzek 2011, p.3). Thus, deliberative democracy puts talking, rather than voting, at the heart of democracy (Chambers 2003). Anybody can engage in deliberation, which is recognisable by a ‘deliberative stance’: ‘a relation to others as equals engaged in the mutual exchange of reasons oriented as if to reaching a shared practical judgment’ (Owen & Smith 2015, p.16).
While mini-publics have been very successful at facilitating deliberation amongst participants, they often lack influence and authority, which means their recommendations are too rarely implemented. Recognising the limitations of discrete deliberative experiments such as mini-publics, democratic theorists have recently turned to a systemic view of deliberative democracy in which the goal is to advance the deliberative capacity of entire political systems (Chambers 2009; Curato & Böker 2016; Elstub, Ercan & Mendonça 2016; Owen & Smith 2015; Parkinson & Mansbridge 2012; Stevenson & Dryzek 2014). A deliberative system is one in which the institutions and networks of governance support a deliberative approach to political conflict and problem-solving at a whole-system scale (Mansbridge et al. 2012). The systemic view of deliberative democracy brings questions about the relationship of the minipublic to broader political systems to the fore. It invites assessment of how mini-publics fit into democratic systems, and how they can be run in such a way as to promote a deliberative stance, thinking beyond the boundaries of the event.
This research project asks what mini-publics contribute to democracy from a systemic perspective, and how that contribution might be strengthened. For evidence, we draw on three mini-publics supported by the newDemocracy Foundation during 2015 and 2016: the Penrith Community Panel; the Noosa Community Jury (on management of the Noosa River); and Infrastructure Victoria’s citizen juries.
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This study explores a new approach to community involvement in planning that responds to contemporary critiques of participatory planning.We conclude the report by providing an alternate pathway that might create more meaningful community participation in the planning and development of the city.
This report explores barriers to the provision of sharing economy mobility services and highlights actions that can be taken by policy makers and other organisations to support their availability. The report finds that Australia cities have similar shared mobility issues that are evident in other places around the world.
Despite unsupportive political conditions for renewable energy (RE) in Australia, a new movement is emerging. About 70 Australian community groups have started to embrace the concept of community renewable energy (CRE) and develop their own projects. However, faced with a complex institutional environment and the absence of national government support, only a few groups have established operating CRE projects as yet. In this situation the role of local government (LG) ‘closest to the people’ deserves more attention.
China, the world’s largest car market, is working on a timetable to stop the production and sale of vehicles powered by fossil fuels. India has declared its intention to make all new vehicles electric by 2030.
Like Britain and France, these two markets are looking to phase out the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles over the next 20 years or so.