Police Minister Mark Mitchell responds to 'insulting' police pay offer

Police Minister Mark Mitchell disagrees with a characterisation of the police pay offer as "dismal".

Police have described their new pay offer as "insulting", "disgusting" and "demoralising".

After rejecting the government's offer initially in September 2023, police were presented with the same offer on Friday.

The government said it was negotiating in "tough economic times", while insisting it would not break its promise to recruit more police.

New Zealand Police Association Te Aka Hāpai president Chris Cahill called it a "kick in the guts", and expected a spike in officers leaving the force as a result.

Speaking to media on Tuesday afternoon, Mitchell said the government would continue to engage in good faith.

"I'm not going to get into the detail of the offer. I've been in this position as police officer."

When asked whether he would accept the offer, as a former police officer, he said "that was then, this is now".

"We are in a tough economic situation and we are doing the best that we can. We want to start improving our own economic outlook as a country."

He did not agree with the suggestion that he was not present, later saying: "I'm not sort of locked away in a sanitised bubble in Wellington."

"It's no secret that I love our police service… I know that they have been under enormous pressure.

"We are engaging in good faith with the police association."

When asked what the government was doing now to stop violent crime, Mitchell pointed to the military academies. He said it was going to take some of the "worst violent offenders" off the streets.

He was "empathetic" with the fact that shop owners are scared, and said further initiatives would be coming to target retail crime, but would not speculate on what they would be.

"It's awful and like I said, there's a massive human cost to this. Most of my adult life, when you look at it, has been dedicated to public safety."

He went to sleep thinking about retail crime, he said.

What's in the offer?

  • A wage increase of $5000 from 1 November 2023, with allowances moving by 5.25 percent (not backdated to 1 July)
  • A further wage increase of 4 percent from 1 September 2024, with allowances increasing by 4 percent (delayed, and not effective from 1 July 2024)
  • Final wage increase of 4 percent from 1 July 2025, with allowances increasing by 4 percent
  • Police propose a pilot to test the mechanisms required to move to pay overtime by 30 June 2026 or earlier
  • Replace all meal and incidental allowances with reimbursement of expenses
  • The current 45 days leave accumulation reduced to 35 days
  • Cahill said the last pay rise was two years ago at 3.5 percent, when inflation that year was at 7.2 percent

What does the association say is wrong with it?

  • No backdating, despite all the delay being on the part of the government
  • No benefit for health checks
  • Expenses reimbursed expenses instead of paying officers an allowance
  • Three-year term instead of two means more "crystal ball gazing" in an uncertain environment