Participatory budgeting processes traditionally focus on a component of discretionary budget – such as a representatives ability to ringfence a couple of million dollars for community facilities. However, in many ways the larger challenge in budgeting is the dominance of interest groups coupled with the capacity to present any and all decisions as an electoral negative: cutting services or raising rates are both equally tricky paths to navigate. Moreover, the challenge facing all elected officials is the need to take a longer term view beyond the current electoral cycle – a challenge which is counter to any representatives interest in survival.

For the first time, the City of Melbourne produced a 10 Year Financial Plan, and is gave unparalleled access to a descriptively representative random sample of citizens to attempt to reach a considered set of recommendations to inform the Lord Mayor and Councillors. The City's scope of operations is immense – in the region of $400m annually – and this was be the largest city with the largest budget to open up their books to a deliberative process giving citizens this level of access and authority.

The process operated from August until October 2014.

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Further Reading:


This research piece reports on democratic processes and interactions related to Melbourne City Council, and in part reports on the City of Melbourne People's Panel. It was commissioned by the Electoral Regulation Research Network, a network including Electoral Commissions (Victoria and other Australian jurisdictions) and academics from leading Australian universities and is included here for reference and general interest

This document was prepared by Clear Horizon Consulting as an external report on the community engagement activities undertaken by the City of Melbourne in relation to the development of their Financial Plan. The report finds that the community engagement for the participatory budgeting process for the 10 Year Financial Plan was both highly effective and appropriate. All seven IAP2 Core Values were either well expressed or expressed at the highest level of achievement, throughout the community engagement process


Engaging with the Community on the 10-Year Financial Plan | City of Melbourne


10 Year Financial Plan: The People's Panel Story | City of Melbourne


10-Year Financial Plan: People's Panel | City of Melbourne


City of Melbourne community engagement: 10 Year Financial Plan | City of Melbourne