Mitchell’s comments in Parliament
Earlier, RNZ had reported that the coalition agreement between National and New Zealand First said the parties would “commit to training no fewer than 500 new frontline police within the first two years” and this now seemed to have changed.
However, under questioning in Parliament on Tuesday, Mitchell pushed out the timeline.
“The government’s policy is to deliver 500 additional police officers over the term of this government, which is three years,” he said.
Labour’s police spokesperson Ginny Andersen then accused the government of backtracking on one of its coalition promises.
“National’s coalition agreement with New Zealand First promises 500 new frontline police within two years, and today Mark Mitchell has walked away from that. That’s a concern for all those other promises that are outlined in the coalition agreement,” she told RNZ.
Mitchell denied it was a walk-back, saying he had received advice in his Briefing to the Incoming Minister that there were issues around recruiting.
“We discovered that it was difficult to fill existing recruit wings, that the Australians are here recruiting our police officers, and that we’ve got lots of senior police officers that are coming up to retirement,” he told Parliament.