Prime Minister Christopher Luxon defends police pay offer despite Police Association slamming it as 'insulting'

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon is defending his Government's support of police saying they will continue to "back them" despite the Police Association slamming the latest pay offer as "insulting".   

It has been revealed officers are considering industrial action after the Police Association was presented last Friday with the same four percent pay rise they had already rejected in September.   

The Police Association described the pay offer as "an affront" and an "insult" in its letter to officers, according to Stuff.   

The previous offer consisted of a $4000 increase to base salaries backdated to April 2023 and a 4 percent increase in salary from April this year, according to Stuff.

The offer the coalition Government put on the table last Friday was a $5000 increase to base wages, backdated to November last year. This would be followed by a 4 percent pay rise starting July next year.

The 4 percent pay increase is still below inflation, which is currently 4.7 percent, while in September last year, inflation was 5.6 percent.

It is illegal for police officers to strike but Stuff is reporting police are considering plans for "work to rule". This would see officers refuse to work overtime and ensure they take all mandated breaks. This could create major issues in low-staffed areas.  

Luxon joined AM on Tuesday morning for his weekly interview and defended his Government's approach to police.   

"What we are doing is making sure we give police more tools and backing them up and we've seen that in respect to our gang legislation, the illegal guns legislation that we put into Parliament last week, coupled with the work we have on youth offending, along with Section 27 reports, virtual court reporting and the abolishment of the prison targets," Luxon told AM co-host Lloyd Burr.   

"So police know they're going to get backed up by this Government to deal with violent and youth crime that we are seeing across the country."   

But Burr questioned whether the Government is just increasing the workload of officers while giving them a pay rise which is lower than inflation.   

The Prime Minister disagreed and claimed the offer is not the same as the previous offer.   

"I'm not going to get into it too much Lloyd because we have actually upped the offer from what the previous Government had offered the police and that is obviously an issue for police and Police Association to work through that negotiation," Luxon replied.  

"It's not appropriate as Prime Minister that I am in the middle of all that. We are acting in good faith... we are determined to back the police by giving them more tools to be able to deal with the crime wave that we are seeing across New Zealand."  

Burr continued to press Luxon on the Police Associations' claims that last week's pay offer was the same as they had already rejected in September last year from the previous Government.  

"I disagree, there is an enhanced offer that has been put together by the police, again it's an issue for them to work through with the police association," Luxon replied.  

"All I'm responsible for is making sure those negotiations take place in good faith and importantly we back our police with giving them stronger tools." 

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has defended his Government's backing of police.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has defended his Government's backing of police. Photo credit: AM

Late last year it was revealed 77 officers were leaving New Zealand to work in Queensland and close to 20 were heading to the Northern Territory, according to figures from Australian police.  

It followed major recruitment campaigns from Queensland and Northern Territory police to poach Kiwi cops.  

The Prime Minister was asked if his Government was doing enough to keep officers in New Zealand.   

He noted the brain drain not just affecting police and pointed to Australia having a wealthier economy.  

"My job is to make sure there's a reason for why I want those nurses and I want the police to be able to stay here and what I have to do is focus on the cost of living and getting inflation down," Luxon said.   

"So it's a place they feel there is an economic future, make sure it's a much safer country so they actually feel they can raise their kids and their families here, a better education system and obviously a much better healthcare system. So those are the things that as a government I'm focused on."  

When asked what promises he could give to officers to try to keep them in New Zealand, Luxon told AM officers can see this Government is working hard to support them.   

Watch the full interview above.