© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2024

New Zealand Police officers are continuing to skip across the ditch

Tobias Macintosh

A new pay offer from the Government is set to be put to vote by the Police within the coming weeks, but uncertainty for the future means officers are continuing to look elsewhere, including Australia.

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More and more Police are leaving to join Australian departments SUPPLIED NEW ZEALAND POLICE

On March 9 the Police Association received a similar offer to the one which was declined in September 2023, with Association President Chris Cahill responding.

“Officers have not been afforded the respect they deserve for continuing to deliver outstanding service in the face of increasing demands,” he said.

With the Police being unable to take industrial action, attention has turned to Australia which has been targeting New Zealand police offering that respect.

A Police officer who asked not to be named said New Zealand could be looking at the loss of over 100 cops in the coming weeks to territories such as Queensland and Western Australia if something doesn’t change. 

Currently, the starting salary for a constable in their first year out of training is NZD 67,000. A probationary constable in Australia will earn approximately NZD 87,000. 

The offer is simple. You will receive a relocation bonus, fast-tracked training and a lot more money in your pocket, so why not? Jason Swanipoel is an ex-Wellington detective who made the move in December and now works in Adelaide, and thought just that.

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Negotiations with the Government don't provide the police with certainty SUPPLIED NEW ZEALAND POLICE

He chose Adelaide in part for the lifestyle as well as the cheaper cost of living, he said he heard that the majority of police in Australia were earning over $120,000.

“To put it into perspective I’m taking home $1960 a fortnight as a cadet, which is the lowest wage possible.

"That is more than most Kiwis earn on the frontline”.

He is nothing but “stoked” having made the move and he has been following the negotiations here closely, he says that New Zealand has a long way to go. 

“Even if they gave us a 20% pay increase we still wouldn’t be anywhere near where Aussie is at.”

Swanipoel would have to be promoted twice, to a detective senior sergeant, to be earning a comparable wage. As a qualified detective working in Wellington Central, he was earning $82,000 with no shift allowances within that role. As a probationary constable in Adelaide, he will be earning close to $15,000 more with allowances.

“It is a no-brainer, really.”

More and more ad campaigns are being released by Australian police departments, directly targeting Kiwi officers. They promise more sunshine, higher salaries, and better work-life balance. 

Last week the Police Association went into discussions with Police Minister Mark Mitchell and the Government to try and reach an agreement. Should that fail, Australia is calling.

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Ad campaign released from Queensland targeting New Zealand Officers SUPPLIED QUEENSLAND POLICE