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Police Minister Admits NZ Can't Compete Australian Recruitment Offer

Police Minister Mark Mitchell says he believes many will choose to stay for love of the country and service to the community. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

New Zealand police are being offered a fast track to Australia's frontline as Queensland Police ramp up efforts to poach from Aotearoa's thinning blue line.

A full-page ad in a New Zealand-wide newspaper trumpets the fact officers transferring to the Gold Coast will be able to complete an intense four-month course rather than the usual eight months of training required.

The campaign by Queensland Police, launched last year, to poach New Zealand police officers promised a $20,000 relocation bonus.



But the coalition government faces the challenge of fulfilling their promise to hire an extra 500 frontline police over the next two years, as information released to Checkpoint suggests it will struggle to meet the target, given resignations and retirements, overall training capacity shrinking and below capacity recruit intakes.

Despite that, Police Minister Mark Mitchell told Checkpoint the coalition government remained committed to their promise.

"I've always said as the incoming minister, it was very clear to me in my briefing to myself from the police that we have got some big challenges without a doubt. But we're up for the challenge. We've set the target."

Australian police figures from late last year showed 77 officers were leaving to work in Queensland and close to 20 were heading to the Northern Territory - but New Zealand Police said they did not record the reasons officers left.

Last month, the New Zealand Herald reported 50 police officers who had quit here were already working as officers across the Tasman, and it understood another 70 were waiting to leave Aotearoa.

Mitchell told Checkpoint he estimated about 50 to 100 New Zealand police officers were hired by that recruitment drive.

"Look, we don't want to lose our police officers. The Australians have been coming here for decades now, recruiting our police officers because they are so good. And it probably highlights the fact that they've got their own issues over there in terms of recruiting and retention.

"A lot of police officers choose not to go to Australia because they love their country, and they love the service that they provide, and particularly the community that they live in.

Queensland police launched a recruitment drive to poach New Zealand officers in 2023.

     Queensland police launched a recruitment drive to poach New Zealand officers in 2023. Photo: Queensland Police Service

"And I think that although we will lose some [police officers] to Australia, I think that we're gonna have a substantial amount that choose to stay in New Zealand."

However, he admitted New Zealand's financial package was no match for Australia's offer.

"We cannot compete with that. Australia have got a much bigger and a healthier and stronger high-wage economy than we have, and that's one of the big jobs that we've got as the incoming government is to strengthen our economy and start to head towards being a higher wage economy that at least goes some way towards competing with Australia.

"But at the moment we are definitely not in that position."

The Police Association and government were in good faith negotiations about a new pay offer.

After rejecting the government's offer initially in September 2023, police members of the union hit back after being presented with the same offer last month.

According to the New Zealand Police website, an officer in training would receive $56,219 rising to $75,063 in their first year, and $82,773 in their fifth year.

Constables in the Northern Territory start at just over $100,000 a year, and an officer with 10 years' experience could expect a $118,000 base salary.

There was also $20,000 on offer to help relocate and a housing allowance to cover rent while they were in the force.

Queensland offers a similar package.

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