NZ could lose ‘hundreds’ of police officers to Queensland – Police Association

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Queensland Police Service has launched what it is calling a “cheeky campaign” to poach NZ officers. Photo / NZME


Hundreds of New Zealand police officers could be leaving for Australia, lured by a big boost in earnings, the New Zealand Police Association says.

Australia’s Queensland Police Service has launched what it is calling a “cheeky campaign” to poach New Zealand officers.

It is promising warmer days and higher pay, including a $20,000 relocation bonus.


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Prime Minister Chris Hipkins told RNZ Morning Report that police retention was currently sitting around the same level as it was before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The attrition rates went down during Covid-19 so we did see less people leaving the police force, we’re now back to about the same level we were before Covid-19 which is still very low compared to other parts of the pubic service.

“So we are doing a good job around retaining our police.”

But Police Association president Chris Cahill said it was an “attractive offer” and one that would be a “real risk” for New Zealand Police.


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“The $20,000 relocation allowance is pretty good, but you’re talking about a 30 per cent pay increase pretty much straight away and that’s before you factor in things like paid overtime which we don’t have in New Zealand Police.”

Cahill told Morning Report he went to the police conference in Queensland to scope out what they were offering and expected them to push this offer “pretty hard”.

Police Association president Chris Cahill. Photo / NZME
Police Association president Chris Cahill. Photo / NZME

“I think we could look at [losing] hundreds [of police officers], possibly.

“And that might sound a bit alarmist but I’m not sure that isn’t the reality when we look at where we’re at in New Zealand.”

Cahill said when a young officer joins the New Zealand Police today, it takes them 21 years before they get to the top of their pay band.

For nurses that was seven years and for teachers it was about nine years, he said.

In terms of working overtime, he said nurses get time-and-a-half or double, whereas officers only got time-in-lieu and even then, sometimes they were pressured to take it when it did not suit them.

“There are significant changes to police remuneration that are required to actually make us competitive.”

Globally, police were struggling to recruit and retain staff, Cahill said.

New Zealand had been “very lucky” to buck that trend and manage to recruit more than 4000 new officers in the last six years, he said.


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“In other parts of the world, especially in Australia, they just haven’t been able to do that, that’s right across Australia. They’re carrying big vacancies everywhere.”

Cahill said it was only obvious that they would turn to New Zealand to poach employees.

But while the pay may be better, there were other things to consider, he said.

“When I’ve spoken to the officers that have gone they certainly like the money but they said the professionalism isn’t the same.

“They believe New Zealand is set up better as a police force and can offer more around learning and development and that sort of thing, and have a better culture.

“But in saying that, the risk profile in New Zealand for an officer has changed dramatically in the last 10 years.”


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Cahill said the increase of firearms crime and the level of assaults were much higher now – things that officers had to weigh up.

A look at the headlines in the last week would tell you that New Zealand simply was not safer than Australia anymore, he said.

“The reality for New Zealand at the moment is that gang members, and others, are wandering streets with guns on a daily basis and have shown a willingness to use them.

“I don’t think we can say that we’re safer than Australia anymore, it’s just not factually correct.”

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