Govt to spend $500m on 10% Police expansion, PM announces; Talks trade deals, global economy in State of Nation speech

Govt to spend $500m on 10% Police expansion, PM announces; Talks trade deals, global economy in State of Nation speech

Prime Minister Bill English has used his State of the Nation address to announce the Government will boost police numbers in New Zealand by 10%, in a move that will cost half a billion dollars.

Total police staff numbers will rise to more than 13,000 from 11,925 by June 2021 and total sworn police numbers to nearly 9,800 from about 8,900, he announced. The first recruits will begin training in July and hit the beat in November.

The pledge was the only hard policy announcement contained in his speech to the Rotary Club of Auckland. English also said National would continue to focus on reaching global trade deals and commented on global economic developments:

A few weeks ago, I returned from meeting leaders of the European Union, Germany and the UK.

I wanted to lock in agreement with the EU to proceed with a free trade agreement and get a commitment from the UK to negotiate an FTA when the time is appropriate.

I’m pleased to say we received a positive hearing on both of those issues.

But these talks look pretty straightforward compared to the complexities and tensions building up in world politics – a newly assertive Russia and China, the ongoing refugee pressures around the Mediterranean, Brexit, a new US President and rising nationalism.

All the political leaders I met were focused on these developments, because their long-held assumptions about how the world works are being tested.

The global economy is looking a bit better than last year, with improving prospects in Europe and the US. However, the political instability I mentioned earlier means there is no room for complacency.

In this environment, I believe the biggest threat to New Zealand is disruption of the international system of open trade.

Under my leadership, New Zealand will continue to advocate for free trade and aim to execute high quality trade agreements.

English used part of his speech to detail his upbringing on a farm in Southland:

As some of you know, I was brought up in Southland, a place where hard work and farm skills were respected more than profit, and where no one could do it all on their own.

I got my politics around our large dining table growing up, and from my mother who ran a farm, raised 12 children and was a serial community activist.

By the early 1980s, I was a new, keen and highly indebted young farmer. Interest rates were around 17 per cent, but farm costs were held down by wage and price freezes.

That wasn’t sustainable and just papered over the economic problems that had built up over a number of years.

The economy had to be restructured. My community was hit hard as farm subsidies were wiped.

I made lots of financial and farm management mistakes. But with the help of family and a lot of hard work, we stayed on our feet.

Many New Zealand families had similar experiences in other industries, as jobs were lost and they struggled to rethink where they fitted in a country that had suddenly changed.

We thought the world owed us a living. It didn’t.

I learned then that business and families in a small trading country like ours needs to continuously adapt in small steps – and that government should back Kiwis to do just that, focusing on resilience and aspiration rather than fear and isolation.

Hiding from economic reality eventually requires drastic and damaging change.

In the lead-up to the extra police announcement, English said his government would also look at new ways to help people in need and break the cycle of welfare dependency. He claimed there are now over 50,000 fewer children living in benefit-dependent households than there were in 2011, and that the number of sole parents on a benefit is the lowest since 1988.

But the recent rise in New Zealand’s prison population indicated the government needed to do better, he said.

Crime prevention often requires intervention from education or housing agencies rather than just the police, he said. The police frontline still needed more time to dedicate extra resources to crime prevention and being able to work closer with other agencies, he said:

So today I’m announcing a $503 million investment in Police and the wider justice sector to reduce crime and keep our communities safe.

This Safer Communities package has three parts:

First, targeting and catching offenders.

Second, preventing crime and reducing victimisation.

And third, delivering a more responsive Police service.

This significant taxpayer investment comes with a range of challenging performance targets for Police.

They include higher attendance at home burglaries, seizing more assets from organised crime, reducing deaths from family violence and reducing reoffending by Māori.

Meeting these targets won’t be easy. But we’re not here to shy away from the hard issues.

Safer Communities provides funding for over 1100 additional Police staff, of whom 880 will be sworn officers. This will increase the number of sworn officers to nearly 9800 by June 2021, and the number of non-sworn staff to over 3200.

That’s a 10 per cent increase in the size of the police force over the next four years.

The package includes:

· A new national 24/7 phone number for non-emergencies.

· More staff for up to 20 rural and regional police stations so that 95 per cent of the population lives within 25 kilometres of a 24/7 police presence.

· More specialist investigators for child protection, sexual assault, family violence and other serious crime.

· Additional resources to deal with burglaries, youth offending and other community crimes.

· More officers to target organised crime.

· And around-the-clock capability for the Police Eagle helicopter.

All police districts will receive extra officers, with Police deciding how many will go where, based on need.

Economy central to election campaign

English’s speech follows his announcement yesterday of 23 September as the general election date. Speaking to media Wednesday, the Prime Minister said the economy will be a central pillar of the election campaign.

Treasury forecast in December that New Zealand’s economic growth rate, measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), would rise from 2.8% in the year to June 2016 to 3.6% in June 2017. However, forecasts then tailed off down to 2.3% annual growth by 2021.

New Zealand’s current account deficit – effectively outflows to the rest of the world – was also forecast by Treasury to deteriorate from a deficit of 2.9% of GDP in June 2016 out to a 4.4% deficit by 2021.

The unemployment rate was expected to bottom out at 4.2% in 2019. Figures released yesterday showed a surprise jump in headline unemployment to 5.2% (economists had expected a slight fall to 4.8%) in the December quarter as more people joined the search for work.

In its December budget policy statement, Treasury said the government’s operating balance before gains and losses in the year to 30 June 2017 is expected to be $473 million. This will be down from $1.8 billion the previous year but does incorporate about $1 billion of earthquake costs. That surplus is forecast to rise to $3.3 billion by June 2018 and $8.5 billion in 2021.

Government debt is forecast to start being paid back in the year to June 2019, with net government debt peaking at $66.4 billion at June 2018 (23.8% of GDP).

Surplus cash would be spent on infrastructure and debt repayment, and National would then look at any ways to use it to improve incomes, English said on Wednesday.

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36 Comments

A few extra policeman does not make a Brighter Future. Where is the vision, the hope......

Labour Party reaction:

Bill English is following rather than leading on the issue of safe communities with his promise of more Police, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.

 

“National is playing desperate catch-up after we backed him into a corner.

 

“We recognised there was a crime problem last October which is why we promised 1000 sworn Police officers.

 

“For eight years National has failed to invest in our Police force and support front line Police officers.

 

“He refused Judith Collin’s plea for more Police as Finance Minister. In May last year he signed off on a four year freeze on Police numbers. Now lo and behold 233 days to the election, comes this promise

 

“Labour welcomes more Police, but National had to be dragged kicking and screaming to today’s announcement.

 

“What this really shows is a Government that has run out of ideas. They are out of touch.

 

“This was supposed to be his first major speech as Prime Minister. But what we actually got was a skinny version of a Labour policy and no mention of the housing crisis, the single biggest worry facing thousands of New Zealanders who are struggling to afford their first home.

 

“This was a speech desperately lacking energy. It was woefully short on vision for this country. It’s time for a fresh approach. It’s time to change the Government,” says Andrew Little.

But OMG not to Labour or the Greens

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The Prime Minister is full of bull on this. If Policing is so important to National then why has the Police budget been frozen since they got into power? All this announcement is is to put the money in that they should have been doing all this time. It's really the same as deferred maintenance.

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Yep. Population has grown by more than 10% since National became Government 9 years ago, hence this is simply catch up as you say.

Well done Bill English, I'm starting to think you could make a great PM

invite him to dinner

Why Not

Why Not

NZ First reaction:

National has been conning the public over the state of crime in New Zealand, says New Zealand First.

“While 90 per cent of burglaries went unattended, and 97 per cent in Northland, they said crime was falling and adjusted their stats accordingly ,” says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“They brought in a catch and release programme – grab the offender, give them a warning and send them home. Great for the statistics.

“Bill English will be remembered as the Finance Minister who froze police budgets. In fact it was one of his first moves after being appointed Finance Minister in 2008.

“Gone was the election promise of one officer to every 500 people, it’s still only one to 600 frontline officers per person.

“But, miraculously, in his first major speech as PM, and in election year, Mr English turns around and opens his purse for more frontline police, though not enough.

“Bill English is being weak here, trying to copy parts of our policy.

“So how come he didn’t listen to Judith Collins on this matter?

“After all the cons National has run on crime and half-baked publicity stunts – like laptops and cellphones as a substitute for real police – Mr English decides he’ll fight crime.

“It’s worthless.

“The public won’t be fooled.

“They have borne the brunt of crime – they are the ones who have been hospitalised, lost their possessions as offending got out of control.

“They are the ones who tried to call the police on weekends – not knowing there are 208 ghost stations in the regions.

“Some namby pamby social measures announced today will not help them one iota.

“It is a crack down on law and order that is needed.

“New Zealand First said last year we need a minimum of 1800 new police as soon as they can be trained.

“It’s too little too late from Mr English, who is desperate to be elected,” says Mr Peters.

ACT reaction:

National’s policy of recruiting more cops is the right thing to do, but the Government will need some smarter ideas if it wants to tackle the causes of crime, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The increase will almost get us back to the 20.3 sworn officers per 10,000 of population that we had in 2009, but not quite,” said Mr Seymour.

“Figures from the Parliamentary Library show that in 2009 there were 20.2 sworn officers per 10,000 of population, then it started falling. By last year it had fallen to 19.2. With a population projection of 4,865,000 by the end of next year, an extra 880 sworn officers would get us back to 20.0 sworn officers per 10,000 New Zealanders.

“Announcing more cops is the right thing to do, but it is hardly riveting stuff. We have done tough on crime; it is time to get smart on crime. I can’t wait to unveil some more innovative crime policy at ACT’s conference on February 25th.”

OMGosh ! ACT David Seymour still ? Ha!

Green Party reaction:

Bill English’s state of the nation speech today lacked vision and leaves New Zealanders with a stark choice about the kind of government they want, the Green Party said.

“The new Prime Minister didn’t talk about the housing crisis, or stagnant wages, or polluted rivers and lakes. These issues aren’t going to go away – in fact, it’s now clear that the only way to fix them is by changing the Government,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“New Zealanders can have warm, safe, affordable homes and higher wages but only a Green-Labour government will make those things a reality.

“There was nothing in Bill English’s speech for families who are struggling with the cost of living and housing, or people stuck in traffic just trying to get to work, and there was no commitment to ending child poverty or cleaning up our rivers.

“Bill English said at Rātana that the Government had reached the limits of what it could do for poverty and the economy. From today’s speech it’s clear they’re giving up trying.

“National has had nine years to address the major challenges that we’re facing as a country, whether it’s affordable housing, child poverty, low wages, unswimmable rivers, or climate change. For the ninth year in a row, Bill English and National have come up short.

“The Prime Minister didn’t mention climate change even once, or any environmental issues, when New Zealand has a prime opportunity to help lead the global movement towards a high-value, clean-tech economy.

“It’s important that people feel safe in their communities, but we need to focus on fixing the underlying causes of crime with investment in mental health, drug and alcohol services, and helping people find stable jobs and homes in their communities once they’ve served their time.

“Putting more money into Police is how you catch criminals and fill prisons, but it’s not how you reduce crime,” said Mr Shaw.

We are deeply indebted to others for importing Crime, making Gangs shoot it out on the streets, creating rental P labs and murderous regions of penury.
The statistics are there.
Our local Police advertise that they are only there between certain times. And not at all...at night.

(A Tui advert there, if ever I saw one).

I do believe some miscreants can read........and work out the time taken to respond from miles away. I do believe they can Import basics...too...and even "Legal Highs"
So what do criminal elements do....work around these times.....a complete no-brainer...so Crime increases as Policing hours and staffing reduce.
(Simple arithmetic, even a crook can count on that.)

I find it sad that when the PM announces more police to keep us safer, all the above comments are negative. More Police to tackle crime is a good thing folks, STOP COMPLAINING !

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I find it sad that you forget that for the past 8 years the now PM has been the key reason that the police force hasn't received extra funding.

It did not go un-noticed ... Not only the Police

Also Health and Education and Justice

You guys sound like your wives, if you do something good they will bring up the past to show you, you did something bad previously

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to use your analogy,
its like your wife asking you to pick up milk on the way home
five days later you get around to it, despite being asked everyday starting off nicely to ending up being screamed at
meanwhile you have gone without for three days eating dry cereal , and drinking black tea. but you saved a couple of dollars
and then when you finally give in and do as your asked you are standing there with the milk (a small bottle) in hand waiting for a party and medal in your honor

:D

LOL, great analogy sharetrader.

A negative comment would be pointing out that Bill English is a lazy and useless PM.

Instead what has happened with Police funding is an intentional disaster. Expectations and roles have been added to Police with no additional funding. Basically the rich got a tax cut of money that would have been better spent on Policing. That's not a responsible action by the Government.

NO it's not - we should be reducing police and reducing crime - just bury your head in the sand and hide behind your THIN blue line - it will not save you when the hordes are baying for bread and social justice.

I particularly liked Bills bit above where he talked about the interests of New Zealanders in their employment and the interest of New Zealanders in business.

Police expansion makes a juicy headline but the content of the speech is more interesting.

Hollow promise

expansion of the police force does not begin until July 2017, just before the election and will not be fully implemented until 2021

The promise can be fulfilled by simply increasing police force numbers by "1" by election day

Population increasing by more than 10% during National's tenure and now we need 500 million to get police ratios back to normal. Just another cost the poor ol taxpayer has to front up with due to the crazy levels of immigration.
Time for a change of government.

more deferred costs to come yet, health and education.
I have worked with short vision management like this juice the figures and move on before it hits the wall and leave the mess for following manager to clean up.

By the time the extra police have been trained, if National are still letting in record numbers of immigrants the police numbers will still be 10% short.

Its appears more and more like John Key was just looking to add to his CV by being PM. In a way it was a politcal masterstroke to leave when he did. Fudge the stats, do nothing and then leave Bill to deal with the fall out when the public (finally) wake up.

History will forget that John Key had a nice friendly affable personality and remember him for what he achieved which was nothing.
This next government has the mess to clean up. $48 billion of government dept. Export earnings have gone down. Enlarged population needing services and infrastructure. Nationals only success has been selling off our low population statistics to fuel a real estate ponzi scheme.
Batten down the hatches folks, NZ is heading for some deferred hard times.

Keeping the ship stable and on an even keel can be a difficult job.
Might not generate a lot of headlines. But still a difficult job.

Managers rather than leaders.... Bean counters rather than carers...

I sense a little dissent among the ranks

One thing is for sure from my observations, is that there is a lot more low level crime going on. The type that people don't bother to report.People though should be reporting all crime, so that the numbers are accurate.

How the Police save some of their precious funds. A mate came across a couple in the wilderness where one of them had been injured. (The couple had hired emergency locator beacons but were told by the company they hired them from not to set them off unless it was life or death situations.) Luckily up on a nearby ridge you could get mobile reception so one of the group my mate was with went and called the police, thinking it was the right thing to do and that they would get a rescue underway for the injured party - it wasn't a life or death situation, but the patient had fallen and injuries were such they couldn't continue. Two hours later with the police still talking to the person on the cellphone but not wanting to send a chopper in, and weather worsening the couple set off the locator beacon. LandSAR went in to action and sent a chopper. Not long after, the injured person was taken away the weather completely closed in. Moral of the story - don't rely on police to send in rescue choppers, it comes out of their budget. Set off your emergency beacons instead as LandSAR apparently have an unlimited budget and don't hesitate to send in a chopper if it is needed.