Kiwis who assault first responders could soon face a minimum six-month prison sentence.
New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball's Member's Bill would create a new offence for injuring a first responder or prison officer with intent. If the offender was found guilty, a court would have to impose a minimum sentence of six months in prison, unless - given the circumstances - that sentence was manifestly unjust.
First responders include police, paramedics, firefighters and corrections officers, and an amendment is set to be debated which would also see nurses and medical professionals in emergency departments included.
On Wednesday night, the Bill passed its second reading in Parliament.
"This law is one step closer to reality. New Zealand First backs our first responders who put their safety on the line, in urgent, critical and lifesaving situations in order to protect us," Ball said
"It is our responsibility to ensure that our first responders are safe when they do their job. There have been increased number of assaults against paramedics, police, corrections officers, and nurses."
Ball said New Zealand First appreciated the support of St John, the Police Association, the Corrections Association, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, and the College of Emergency Nurses New Zealand.
Ball is a New Zealand First list MP based in Palmerston North.