Australian police are advertising for experienced Kiwi officers – as New Zealand Police boss Commissioner Peter Marshall indicates the force is facing a pay freeze.
The recruitment drive by the Northern Territory force promises sweeteners such as a fast track to promotion, free accommodation and generous allowances and holidays.
In contrast, Mr Marshall indicated yesterday Kiwi police were facing a pay freeze.
Wage negotiations between top brass and the Police Association begin again today. But with no new money in last month's Budget, the threat of cuts and performance pay is overshadowing the talks.
Labour Party police spokesman Kris Faafoi said police were facing "huge" financial pressures through increased wage costs and the rising costs of inflation.
"The Aussie cops are advertising for our cops, offering much better conditions and accommodation.
"We'll end up paying for their training, giving them two years probationary service, and then they'll head over to Australia to take much better offers.
"If they are looking at a pay freeze then you can't really blame them for heading overseas."
The ads – in The Dominion Post at the weekend – target "experienced police" with two or more years of service in their "accelerated recruitment programme" starting in September.
Mr Faafoi and colleague Phil Goff were left frustrated at yesterday's law and order select committee when Police Minister Anne Tolley, Mr Marshall and deputies Viv Rickard and Mike Bush refused to compromise the negotiations by answering question on wages.
Committee chairwoman Jacqui Dean thwarted the Labour bids to ascertain if wages made up 70 per cent of police spending.
Speaking outside the hearing, Mr Marshall offered assurances that officers' current pay would not be cut. But he refused to rule out no increase.
A freeze would mean an effective cut as wages would not rise in line with inflation.
Mr Marshall rejected Mr Goff's claim that police face $24million in increased costs – and a $15m shortfall. And he said there will be no return to "the 1990s", referring to a performance-based system.
Police announced last month that 126 non-sworn posts would be be cut – but Mr Marshall confirmed that due to unfilled vacancies 20 people would lose their jobs.
Police Association president Greg O'Connor rejected reports last night that officers were preparing to march on Parliament.
He said the advertising "doesn't always meet with the reality. But there is no doubt about it, the salaries are better ... each time this happens there's always a few go over.
"This is why it is important we keep New Zealand attractive and hopefully close the gap with our Australian colleagues."
Mr O'Connor said a process of "re-centralisation and restructuring" was affecting non-sworn staff.
Northern Territory Police are offering:
Free-high quality housing;
Seven weeks' annual leave;
Incentives for remote postings;
Overtime and night shift allowance and 20 per cent consolidated allowance;
A six-month fast-track on to a senior constable course, if eligible.
New Zealand police graduates start on a salary package worth about $58,000, rising to just over $76,000 after five years.
Northern Territory police with two years or more service receive just over $73,000 plus generous benefits. After 10 years' service this rises to more than $84,000 with benefits.
- © Fairfax NZ News
With festive flags and trees out this year, is council killing Christmas?Related story: Council takes the cheer out of Christmas