Friday, April 19, 2024

Kerre Woodham: The Police are right to be brassed off

New Zealand police officers have overwhelmingly rejected the government's latest pay offer and have given the government one last chance to lift its game. The latest offer was put to the vote on April the 8th by the New Zealand Police Association. More than 75% voted against the offer. That is overwhelming. President Chris Cahill said the outcome sends a clear message to the government that the offer falls well short of addressing officers' concerns and very real needs. Police Minister Mark Mitchell was on with Mike Hosking this morning and says the rejection is an incredibly disappointing outcome.

“In terms of where we are at the moment as a country, which is, we're basically broke in terms of the massive borrowing that was implemented by the previous government. The fact that we're paying $8.5 billion in interest. I mean I could increase our police service three times over with that money. And so, we've put together a package that is a quarter of a billion dollars better than the offer that went forward in August.”

That was Mark Mitchell talking to Mike Hosking this morning.

Look, I have every sympathy for the government inheriting the books they did, the debt they did. I have every sympathy for the government for inheriting pay negotiations that should have been settled under the previous administration, but the police should not have to bear the brunt of an economy that's been mishandled. With all due respect to Mark Mitchell, that is neither here nor there.

The police shouldn't have to care about the economy. They're suffering the impact of a mishandled economy the same way we all are, but it's not their concern. They don't have to carry the can because the economy's down the toilet. The last pay rise police had was two years ago at 3.5%. Inflation that year was 7.2%. So, they've been sold a pup basically. They were let down by the previous administration, but there were many promises during the election campaign that they would be supported. Law and order was a huge issue in 2023 and was given even more prominence than it normally is during any old election campaign, and with good reason.

Mark Mitchell and National, Christopher Luxon promised to crack down on crime, neuter the gangs and support the police. Along with the economy, that was one of their biggest platforms, law and order. The fact that the police had been let down and that they would restore faith for the police and restore the kind of mana the police once eroded under years of, I would say not ‘neglected’ so much, certainly more police were added to the ranks, but you had police ministers that didn't particularly want to be there other than Stuart Nash, and it seemed to be on a high rotate. It didn't seem to be. a portfolio that was given much prominence by the previous administration and national capitalised on that in the election campaign. When Christopher Luxon was in studio with me a couple of weeks ago, I put it to him that he owed the police a decent pay off offer after all the tub thumping.

“We tried to put an enhanced offer in just after, you know, month or so ago, and then we put another new offer on the table just at the end of last week, which you know has been taken out there. I can't really go into the details of that because in fairness, the police are actually all going to digest that objectively themselves and make their own individual decisions as to whether that's something they do want to support or not. But I'm hopeful because the government has put in hundreds of millions of dollars more on the table in order to make sure that we can put our best foot forward in that negotiation. We back our police; we want them to do well.”

Well, pay them more then. Give them the respect that they're due. When you are using the men and women in blue as a marketing tool, as a call to action for all New Zealanders, then I think police can quite rightly expect to see that support come about in a tangible way. With a decent employment offer. The latest one, the one that Christopher Luxon was talking about, hundreds of millions of dollars, well, $250 million, so yes, technically it was hundreds of millions, was rejected by 75% of the police who are members of the Police Association. So no, not even close to good enough.

If it was Poto Williams in charge, sure you wouldn't have much in the way of expectations. But when you have a former cop in the form of Mark Mitchell, and you have a former cop and Police Association advocate, Casey Costello in charge of the portfolio, you would expect more than platitudes. I do not blame the police for being brassed off, and all. They were led to believe, they were told to believe, that under this government, things would be different. That hasn't happened.

Mark Mitchell saying that the economy is in a parlous state, so what? Yes, it is. So, make the savings somewhere else. I'm assuming that MPs won't be accepting their pay rise, that they will introduce legislation, which they can do, to turn it down. To say look, I'm sorry under these conditions we simply cannot accept a pay rise. Take that money, give it to the police.

Obviously, it's not as simple as that, but seriously, if I was a police officer, I would be brassed off. You've been led to expect much and this government hasn't delivered. Kind words and passionate rhetoric do not pay the mortgage or the grocery bill.

Kerre McIvor, is a journalist, radio presenter, author and columnist. Currently hosts the Kerre Woodham mornings show on Newstalk ZB - where this article was sourced.


Anonymous said...

The police have behaved very strangely in certain instances -

e.g. the Albert Park incident and Auckland dairy ram raids.

Anonymous said...

The Police and the courts need to start doing their job and enforcing the law equally. When they are consistently doing so then they might deserve a pay rise. Right now many of them deserve the sack.

Anonymous said...

The Coalition continues to fund PIJF , NZ on Air, and god only knows what other wasteful organizations that contribute nothing to civilization.
The police are there to police our so called civilization give them decent funding to achieve that.

Anonymous said...

Ms Woodham.

Being a resident of Auckland, what you seem to miss, living North of the Bombay Hills, is that we have had a change of Govt, from Labour (which any numb nut can work out, that NZ Unions 'love'Labour, they give them what they want) to National, who as a Political Party, in Govt are 'less loved by NZ Unions".

Now Dear "lady"- if you had watched the years of Ardern, did the Police Union 'seek a pay increase'? NO. That only comes when National 'now warm the Treasury seats of the House'.

If you 'trust' Chris Cahill, then you need to make a 'trip to the Mason centre'. And sadly that includes Mark Mitchell.

Now if "I was Chris Luxon" - my vocal point to the Police would be -
1.- "I want to see Police Patrols, on foot, thru NZ Business domains, in all Cities, thru shopping malls, obscure side streets, and conducted on a 24 hour/ seven day a week regime". After 6 months, and it can be proved that you have a achieve this objective, then I will consider a pay increase".

2. -"Also, you took charge/control of the NZ Highway Patrol system from the former Ministry of Transport, I now want to see more Police Highway Patrols on our roads 24/7. That is not a concept, it is a direction".

3.- "You also need to demonstrate a renewed interaction with the public to restore 'their faith' in you as a Law Enforcement System, that as individuals you joined to aid & abet the Application of NZ Law & Order as deemed by Govt, past & future.

Mark Mitchell - hmm - 'another talker, but has issues walking'.