Bill could hit volunteer groups in the pocket

A protester gestures over the line of police waiting at the SkyCity Convention Centre in Auckland, protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. (AAP Image/Boris Jancic) NO ARCHIVING

Volunteering NZ is urging the Government to put the brakes on a proposed Bill that would introduce a charge for police vetting of volunteers.

The standard police check is considered by volunteer groups as an essential step to ensure the safety of the people they support.

Volunteering NZ chief executive Scott Miller says making charities cough up the cash would hinder their ability to provide services.

"It's got the potential to reduce volunteers, or at least reduce the checking of volunteers, and also the services that volunteer organisations provide to their communities. The budget required to fund the police vetting has got to come from somewhere."

The police say they get more than 450,000 vetting requests a year from nearly 6000 different agencies. It's estimated the Bill will allow them to recoup up to $3.5 million a year, out of a total budget of around $1.6 billion.

Volunteering NZ says charity work is a public service that should receive Government assistance.

"That price can vary from as little as $7 per volunteer to $50 a volunteer. Even at the lower end, $7, if you're an organisation of 3000 to 5000 people, that's $30,000 that you've got to find."

The Policing (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill is going through its second reading in Parliament.

At its first reading, National, Labour, NZ First, ACT and United Future voted for it. Labour's Phil Goff said his party's support came with "strong reservations".

The Greens and the Maori Party voted against it.