Mark Mitchell formally corrects record in Parliament over police numbers mistake

  • 31/01/2024

Police Minister Mark Mitchell has corrected the record in Parliament after incorrectly saying in the House on Tuesday the Government will deliver 500 additional officers over three years.

That was different to the National-New Zealand First Coalition deal to deliver the officers over two years.

Both the Prime Minister and deputy Prime Minister on Wednesday morning said the two-year promise remained.

Mitchell said he should have been clearer. The 500 police officers would be over the first two years of the term, he said.

He said he was reflecting the significant challenge of police recruitment.

Heading into the House on Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said Mitchell "may have mixed his messages yesterday" and "misrepresented" the coalition deal. He said the Government's commitment remained two years.

He said Mitchell was reflecting the high levels of attrition in the police force as well as an Australian recruitment campaign.

Luxon said the Government was determined to hit the target, but acknowledged they were sometimes missed.

"We may fall short from time to time," Luxon said.

Mitchell similarly said that the Government parties hadn't been fully aware of the issues with recruitment when they came into Government at the end of last year. 

He said he had known about the Australian campaign, but issues around the age of the police force and the number of officers coming up for retirement had been news to him when he received his briefing for incoming ministers.

The minister said the two-year promise remained.

"I am going to work as hard as I can... Is it going to be tough? Yeah it is."

Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon walked back Mitchell's comments.

"Mark could have expressed himself better. What he was talking to was some of the significant challenges police are certainly facing with respect to recruitment," Luxon told RNZ's Morning Report"But we're an ambitious Government, we know it's hard, we know it's tough, we know it's challenging - but we're sticking with 500 police officers in two years."

Opposition police spokesperson Ginny Andersen earlier told RNZ Mitchell's comments were "a concern for all those other promises that are outlined in the coalition agreement".