New Zealand Law Society - Road safety funding cutback claim ruled misleading

Road safety funding cutback claim ruled misleading

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A National Party suggestion in an advertisement of cuts to road safety funding has been ruled misleading.

National’s flyer contained a list headed “Where the Coalition has failed you” and included two statements: “Cut in road safety funding – losing your loved ones” and “No new roads – traffic getting worse.”

A complainant said it was misleading to say there has been a cut in road safety funding when the NZTA website states there is a government investment of $4.3 billion on safety, a 37% increase on the previous government.

In response, National provided substantiation that the 2019 budget appropriated $331 million in ‘Vote Police’ to cover the delivery of services outlined in the New Zealand Road Safety Programme directed towards the achievement of road safety outcomes, down from $341 million from 2018/19 – a cut of nearly $10 million.

The ASA’s complaints board said National is making a broad claim, implying overall road safety funding has been reduced. The board said the specific wording “Cut in road safety funding” means an overall cut in budget. It said the addition of the emotive statement “losing our loved ones” also suggests a wider scope.

The ASA said National’s focus on a $331 million policing programme relative to the overall NZTA road safety budget of $4.3 billion was at odds with the broad claim being made in the advertisement and was likely to be misleading to most consumers.

The complaints board unanimously ruled that despite the advocacy nature of the advertisement, this claim was in breach of Principle 2 and Rule 2(b) of the Advertising Standards Code and ruled that this claim be upheld.

Earlier this year, the ASA ruled that National’s spending ad claim was ruled misleading.