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Govt Plans To Cut Staff Making Roads Safer During Road Safety Week

The latest cuts proposed by Waka Kotahi will expose travellers to more danger with experienced staff driving road safety campaigns and supporting local councils under threat.

Waka Kotahi is proposing a net loss of 42 roles to the Engagement and Partnership Business Group following the Government directive to cut spending by 7.5%.

The announcement comes during the middle of Road Safety Week which involves hundreds of schools, organisations and communities promoting road safety awareness.

"This is simply wrong particularly coming in the very week when communities are highlighting the importance of understanding how to stay safe on our roads," said Fleur Fitzsimons Assistant Secretary for the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi.

The Engagement and Partnership Business Group delivers national road safety marketing and education programmes and supports local councils to deliver road safety education to our most at risk communities.

"These are just more mixed messages from the Government which says it’s committed to safer roads but is happy to dismiss the people doing the mahi to keep travellers safe.

"This group provides valuable support and resources to local councils, so how are they supposed to fill the gap and keep their communities safe with these proposed cuts?"

The latest cuts come on top of another restructure at Waka Kotahi which more than halves the team providing data critical to the analysis of vehicle crashes to make our roads safer.

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"The Government is lifting blanket speed restrictions, reducing investment on cycleways and speed calming innovations and wants to build faster, bigger roads. But cuts to this critical team mean motorists, pedestrians and cyclists will be exposed to greater danger."

The total social cost of injuries and fatalities has been estimated by the Ministry of Transport at $12 billion in 2022. [1]

"You would have thought such sobering figures make a sound economic case for investing more in this important team, not less.

"The Government promised evidence-based policy, but again when it needs money to fund tax cuts, it is happy to prioritise these over the safety of New Zealanders."

[1] Social cost of road crashes and injuries, Ministry of Transport, May 2023

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