Hobson Article - March 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

In an uncertain world, the New Zealand economy continues to deliver. Collectively we created 137,000 new jobs last year, growth is good and our public finances are sound. This year we will remain focused on building a more competitive and productive economy.

Personally, I am very pleased to join Bill English’s new Cabinet, as Minister for Tertiary education, Skills and Employment, Minister of Science and Innovation and Minister for Regulatory Reform. These are exciting areas, dear to the heart of most Hobson readers. I’m particularly determined that we do everything we can to equip our young people to succeed in whatever they choose to do.

A skilled workforce, a strong innovation framework and regulatory restraint are important ingredients for a successful economy. But a successful economy is meaningless without people enjoying a strong sense of personal security.

We are fortunate in this part of Auckland to enjoy safe streets. By one measure New Zealand is the fourth-safest country in the world. We want to make it number one.

That’s why I was pleased that Bill English, in his first major announcement as Prime Minister, unveiled a significant Government investment in police and the wider justice sector to reduce crime and keep our communities safe. The half-billion dollar Safer Communities package will provide an extra 1125 police staff, including 880 sworn police officers.

All police districts will receive extra frontline officers with the Police deciding how many will go where, based on need. This package unashamedly targets offenders to ensure they are off our streets. The extra police includes 500 to go out on the beat and into community policing. Those officers will improve the speed of police to attend emergencies. They will also focus on youth offending, burglaries, and community crime.

Ethnic communities also get more support. 20 additional ethnic liaison officers will support Chinese, Indian, and other ethnic communities and business to stop crime in these communities. There will be more specialist investigators in the areas of child protection, sexual assault, and family violence. And more officers will target organised crime. We’re also providing additional resources to address the underlying drivers of crime – through preventative work by the Police and greater investment in rehabilitation for prisoners.

By focusing on specific areas in this wide-ranging policy we will deliver a more responsive police service, prevent crime and victimisation, resolve more crimes, and more effectively target criminal gangs and organised crime. The package also comes with a range of challenging targets for the Police. Those include higher attendance at home burglaries, more assets seized from organised crime, fewer deaths from family violence, and a reduction in reoffending by Māori.

Investing more in police will make our communities safer. It will reduce crime and reoffending, and help steer some of our most disadvantaged young people onto a more productive path. That’s an outcome worth investing in.