South Auckland residents interested in the future of transport took part in a deliberative workshop on the weekend asking the question: what should New Zealand’s land transport system look like in the future? And how can it be paid for – in a fair way?
Congestion and road user changes, targeted rates, and fuel tax were part of a robust discussion at the workshop, held by Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures, a think tank at the University of Auckland, and Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport.
The organisations are working together to see what people think about the question ‘who should pay for what?’ in the future transport system.
At the half-day workshop, participants discussed what the future transport system could look like, what aspects of the current system could be retained and what changes are needed, and what might be a fair way of paying for that desired future.
Participant Mary Stickland said she had learnt a lot from the morning workshop, which had challenged her bias.
“This has really informed my perspective on transport. Listening to a wide range of different perspectives, it’s made me realise we need more education about these complex issues. My children need to be aware of these social issues. I learnt so much from what different people were saying,” she said.
Participant Joette Parkinson said the workshop made her think twice about the transport system and consider different users and their perspectives – from pedestrians and cyclists to people who drive cars.
“Out of this discussion, I learnt I can contribute in a positive way. For the outcomes to be equitable, we need to have these positive discussions”.
Koi Tū Deputy Director Anne Bardsley says diverse voices are wanted on these issues, so the workshop’s participants were picked at random via a civic lottery process.
The workshops are part of Koi Tū’s deliberative democracy research programme, known as Complex Conversations. It’s designed to promote informed public decision-making on complex issues in Aotearoa New Zealand, and help citizens find agreement and consensus.
After the session, about 80 per cent of participants said they would take up the opportunity to be part of a deliberative session in future – something that Dr Bardsley finds encouraging.
“I call this ‘democracy when the people are thinking’. It shows that people of all backgrounds and abilities can work together in an open-minded and respectful way to find common ground and work through difficult trade-offs. The process can support decision-making around some of our most complex challenges.
“Our research is committed to making public engagement more inclusive, informed and constructive. This work supports policymakers and politicians at all government levels to gain public support for policies that may be difficult and counterintuitive – and possibly costly at elections – yet beneficial in the long term,” she says.
The South Auckland event is one of our four workshops, with other events being held in North Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch.
To learn more about this research programme, visit our Complex Conversations website.