Road to Zero: Thousands of dollars spent on design work for unreleased transport document 

The Government's decision to walk away from the Road to Zero strategy is receiving a mixed response.

Newshub can also reveal a report produced last year setting out the next three years of Road to Zero actions cost taxpayers thousands in design work.   

Fifty-nine people have lost their lives on New Zealand's roads so far this year. That's despite the Road to Zero strategy, which was meant to bring down deaths and injuries.   

Transport Minister Simeon Brown said it's been an "absolute failure".   

"It is more of a marketing exercise rather than actually bringing the number of deaths down."  

The Greens' Julie Anne Genter launched Road to Zero as associate Transport Minister in 2019 and said international evidence shows the strategy works eventually - but the new Government is canning it.   

"It was always a long-term project but it is about retaining that commitment to the thing that really is most precious to people, which is life," Genter said.  

The Government's replacement includes reviewing fines, a focus on drink driving and drug testing and other so-far undefined safety objectives.   

"Safer roads include better maintenance and building better roads," Brown said.   

But Genter said this change means "years more of no action and a lack of clarity".    

Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson said Road to Zero didn't work and just focusing on driver behaviour won't either.   

He said authorities should "recognise that people are going to make stupid mistakes and change the roads and cars, so the stupid mistakes don't turn into fatalities".   

A report detailing progress on Road to Zero's safety measures, like new medium barriers, was supposed to be released last year but it's still not public.    

The Ministry of Transport said it was engaging with Brown on the monitoring report.   

"At this stage we are unable to confirm a specific date for release of the report," a ministry spokesperson said.  

An action plan setting out what would be done during the next three years was also produced but never released.   

Newshub can reveal more than $4000 was spent on the likes of design and layout, image hireage and proof-reading for that report on top of the hours staff spent writing it.   

But officials are refusing to provide a copy despite an Official Information Act (OIA) request for it, citing a section of the law saying information can be withheld "to maintain the constitutional convention protecting the confidentiality of advice tendered by ministers and officials".   

"I want everyone in the transport agency to be focused on value for money," Brown said in response to questions about thousands being spent on design work.   

In a statement, the spokesperson for the ministry said the expenditure on design work was "in line with the cost of producing similar documents where we outsource design work".   

"Generally, the ministry uses its internal capability for design work. On occasion, where more specialist design work is required, we engage external providers.   

"This approach is more cost-effective than retaining specialist capability on staff. The ministry is mindful of the need for cost-efficiency, value for money and reducing reliance on external contractors such as by working closely with partner agencies like NZTA to reduce costs for design work.  

"While the action plan has not been released, we do have the ability to reuse design work such as stock images in other ministry documents."