Judith Collins, Julie Anne Genter trade barbs on Twitter over road toll

Judith Collins has clashed with Julie Anne Genter over her goal to reduce New Zealand's road toll. 

Taking to Twitter, the National MP said it's "unfortunate that [Julie Anne Genter] chose to politicise the road toll when she took office". 

The tweet was in reference to comments the Associate Transport Minister made recently to NZME. She said it could be "many decades" before New Zealand sees a substantial change in the number of road deaths. 

It's not the first time Ms Collins and Ms Genter have traded barbs over road policies on Twitter.
It's not the first time Ms Collins and Ms Genter have traded barbs over road policies on Twitter. Photo credit: Getty

Ms Genter's comments came after New Zealand experienced its highest road toll since 2009, with almost 400 deaths in 2018. Over the Christmas holiday period there were nine deaths - but still three fewer than over the same period last year. 

"The reality is these things take time and [there's] a huge amount of road upgrades that need to be completed," Ms Genter told NZME, adding that the Government is in the process of implementing its road safety strategy. 

Ms Collins said on Twitter the Government should focus on building "better, safer roads rather than wasting the money on a trolley service up Dominion Rd," referring to the Government's plans to build a light rail link from Auckland CBD to Auckland Airport.

Ms Genter clapped back at Ms Collins on Twitter saying she meant it could be decades before New Zealand sees "substantial" reduction in road deaths. She said she stands by the Government's policy of making road safety a top priority. 

In April last year Ms Genter announced the Government was looking at introducing a policy before 2020 that would aim for zero road deaths as it strives to curb New Zealand's "unacceptable" road toll.

She said Canada, Sweden and Norway had adopted zero death targets and had far lower rates then New Zealand. 

The Government has committed $1.4 billion to making roads safer but Ms Genter says it could take "many decades to substantially bring down deaths and serious injuries on our roads," and she said the Government's moving as fast as it can. 

Suggested safety improvements include more median barriers, rumble strips and shoulder widening on both state highways and local roads.

"No other industry accepts hundreds of people dying each year as normal. No person I know thinks losing a loved one in a crash is an acceptable price to pay for living in a modern society - that's why we're making safety a priority," Ms Genter said when the plan was announced.

But it's not looking good for the Government as the road toll has increased every year since 2013, when the toll was only 253. 

That compares to 2018 where 380 people lost their lives on the roads. 

Since the road toll has only started increasing since 2013, some have suggested the Government needs to work out what has changed in the last few years and introduce new policies that could target those areas. 

"The targets haven't been set exactly, but we're making the improvements to the roads and we're building up safer speeds," Ms Genter told NZME.

"I want to see this happen as soon as possible but we live in a democracy so there are certain approaches we have to take."

It's not the first time Ms Collins and Ms Genter have traded barbs over road policies on Twitter. Last month the Green MP slammed National over its disapproval of Auckland Transport's proposed speed limit reductions. 

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