Why the extra security for Paula Bennett and Nick Smith?

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett (Newshub.)
Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett (Newshub.)

In an unusual move, a police bodyguard provided close protection for Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett and Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith at a public meeting in Auckland on Monday night.

The plainclothes police officers stood beside the ministers as they addressed the crowd at the housing meeting in Blockhouse Bay.

Usually only the Prime Minister requires the protection of the Diplomatic Protection Squad and his ministers travel freely.

Why the extra security for Paula Bennett and Nick Smith?

Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith is watched closely (Newshub.)

However, this year Steven Joyce has been hit by a dildo, while Ms Bennett received threats on Facebook.

Ms Bennett wasn't particularly surprised at the presence of the officers.

"I think we had a good over 200 [people] at the meeting, there was a vocal crowd outside. We've had different incidences this year with ministers having things thrown and them and things, so I guess they're trying to make sure they maintain order.

"I found it good and robust. I've been doing public meetings in west Auckland for around 10 years now and they're kind of known for being quite opinionated -- people [are] really comfortable putting their views forward."

Ms Bennett says the turnout showed people cared about housing.

"I just think housing is personal and housing matters a lot to people, and people have strong opinions on it and care, so that's why I held a public meeting."

Prime Minister John Key says the amount of police and security at the event was "standard".

"When we have public meetings sometimes if the issue is particularly hot and we're aware through social media you're likely to get a significant number of protesters then the police attend those meetings and that's a logical thing to do."

But Labour leader Andrew Little says security detail was required because the Government has angered the community over its failure to address the housing crisis.

"Ministers have been doing community meetings since time immemorial and last night they turned up with a security detail. Nick Smith did not speak without a security person being there within spitting distance of him.

"That tells you ministers are under siege, people are angry, they are concerned and they hold this Government responsible."

Newshub.

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