News Limited sings the praises of sortition

Vikki Campion writes in about the wonders sortition can do for those communities looking for ways to save money:

Consulting the people – radical approach to democracy

THEY sacked sister cities, slashed mowing services and cut spending on glossy council brochures.

A pilot panel of 36 randomly selected mums, dads, students, retirees and pensioners have taken hold of Canada Bay Council’s budget for the next four years, slashing and burning inefficiencies and finding new revenue to address its mounting infrastructure backlog.

The pioneers were guinea pigs in an Australian-first method of community consultation which could be the future for cash-strapped councils which need to cut waste instead of raising rates.

The article details the radical, innovative measures proposed by the allotted panel:

They proposed user-pays services for non-residents and using commercial sponsorship for public parks and ovals, while leasing out unused spaces in council buildings and selling unused and degrading property. […] The panel voted for a reduction in kerb and gutter sweeping from daily to every second day and reducing the mowing schedule from every two weeks to every 2½ weeks in summer, and every 3½ weeks in winter.

And it was all a bargain too:

Frustrated by the difficulty in engaging the community rather than single-issue lobby groups, the council engaged in a trial where the process – random selection of participants and daily oversight – was provided at no cost by The newDemocracy Foundation.

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