People to decide as community juries rule on big issues

NEW MOVE: Mayor Noel Playford is enthusiastic about community engagement in local government.
NEW MOVE: Mayor Noel Playford is enthusiastic about community engagement in local government. Peter Gardiner

PEOPLE power will be taken to new heights in Australia when Noosa Council proceeds with plans to set up residential jury panels that could have the final say on major community issues.

As far as Mayor Noel Playford is concerned, it is not a case of if, but when these community juries are set up to start setting new direct

ions for the councillors to follow.

Cr Playford said at Cooroy Area Residents Association meeting last week the final details were to be worked out. In some cases he believed the juries could be empowered to have the final say on how council would proceed rather than make a recommendation.

He told the Noosa News nothing had been set in stone as yet, but it might well be a case of saying the community volunteers if you have 100% agreements for council to move on a certain issue, their finding would be binding. And he said depending on the issues, even an 80% majority could suffice.

THE mayor told the well-attended CARA meeting that these panels had been tried before in Australia and overseas and that council was consulting with the newDemocracy Foundation about how to implement such a radical approach to local government.

"We've spent a lot of time talking about community engagement," Cr Playford said.

"We really want to enable the community to be part of the decision-making of council," he said.

"Council can actually give significant issues to that jury, to say we want you to look at that issue over a significant period of time with all the information they want provided."

He said it would be "for them to essentially make a decision or to recommend to council a decision that should be made on really significant issues".

"It's pretty exciting. Most of us - all of us, I think - are really look forward to that."

Jurors would be invited at random to take part and would be part of yet-to-be- decided selection criteria aimed at getting a represen

tative mix of the Noosa community, the mayor told the meeting.

Topics:  noosa council

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