The values jury on trial: a model for public consultation
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 12:24 authored by Patrick Lally
The imprecision with which many of the traditional models of public consultation actually capture people’s concerns and preferences has encouraged research into alternate forums. Recently, attention has shifted to the more innovative so-called ‘deliberative institutions’. These are models of consultation that limit participation but focus on revealing the well-informed views of a relatively small number of constituent representatives, rather than relying on the less-informed views of the broader public. The principle objective of this thesis is to report on the results of a series of trials involving the application of one of these new deliberative models, the values jury. The values jury draws its name from the related model of public consultation, the citizens’ jury (CJ). It holds many of the characteristics of the CJ approach but it is also designed to reveal an additional vital factor, namely the intensity with which people hold values toward collective assets. A series of trials was conducted throughout New South Wales to establish the efficacy of the values jury model. The values jury draws its name from the related model of public consultation, the citizens’ jury (CJ). It holds many of the characteristics of the CJ approach but it is also designed to reveal an additional vital factor, namely the intensity with which people hold values toward collective assets. A series of trials was conducted throughout New South Wales to establish the efficacy of thevalues jury model. The principle focus was on revealing people’s preferences in the context of hypothetical threats to local environmental and related assets. A contingent valuation-style format for capturing values was incorporated into the process. In total 100 selected jurists representing four separate communities participated in the trials. As part of the trial process, participants were provided with a range of information, including a courtroom-style debate by expert advocates, about a specific environmental issue; the threat that continuing irrigation water usage poses to the sustainability of the Macquarie Marshes. Results confirmed that trade-off measures are identifiable with each irrigation-related job in the Valley being considered equivalent to 1.6 km² of increased wetland. Other topics of public concernwere also included to identify how well they could be incorporated into the values jury process. The model appears to be able to cope with a reasonable variety of such topics. As part of the trial review process, participants were asked to confirm their perceptions of the values jury in terms of its capacity to provide for the twin objectives of fair and competent discourse. Criteria based on Habermas’s theory of communicative action were used as the template for this assessment. Overall, the jurors’ responses were strongly affirmative for both objectives. This was the inaugural attempt at trialing the values jury process and the results indicate that the model holds considerable potential for use in a wide variety of applications, particularly where the quantum of stakeholder values is the focus of attention.