Nelson pay paradePolice
Thank you very much for inviting me to be with you today at your pay parade.
Like most Cabinet Ministers, I get a great deal of enjoyment out of occasions that recognise the achievements of people working within a portfolio area, but that is particularly the case with police.
In the police portfolio so often public and media attention seems to focus on the negative, and yet so much of the work you do is incredibly positive, and focused on improving the safety of our communities.
This has been a year of challenges for the NZ Police, with issues such as the release of the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct, allegations about the quality of our recruiting and training programme, and, of course, a great deal of debate around Operation 8,
Yet at the end of this year there is much to celebrate.
In the past few months, for example, independent reports have verified that when probationary constables complete their training they are fit for the job, and have also commented very positively on the complex Austin investigation.
Last week new Police Regulations were introduced allowing a Code of Conduct to take effect from 1 February 2008, and just this week Cabinet approved the introduction of a new Policing Bill. These are two major ticks against the Commission of Inquiry recommendations that will have fundamental and ongoing repercussions for policing in New Zealand.
It is a good time of year to reflect on achievements, and what better place to do so than in the Nelson Bays policing district, where I understand you have the lowest per capita crime and the second lowest road trauma rate in the whole of New Zealand.
I hear your Area Commander has been taking every opportunity to crow rather loudly about this -– as indeed he should. But, of course, this also means you are allowed to crow just as loudly as well.
Shortly we will recognise individual achievements, including those of staff who have served overseas. I frequently receive feedback from a wide range of people, both nationally and internationally, on the value of New Zealand Police work overseas and on the high esteem our staff are held in.
This district has contributed significantly to overseas policing operations. I understand Mark Emlesey is not long back from Tonga, Craig Barker has just returned from the Solomons, Steve Arnold is about to go to the Solomons, and, of course, your District Commander has been in Timor, as have Detective Inspector John Winter and Sergeant Paul Bartle.
Before I finish I also want to acknowledge family, friends and partners who are here today because you also contribute by supporting police staff in their work.
Thank you very much for what you do, and I wish you all, police, family and friends, happy times over the holiday period and in the year ahead.