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Ministers cross floor for ACT police amendment


Sunday 5th Sep 1999

Media Statement

Patricia Schnauer

Justice spokesman

ACT New Zealand

5 September 1999

Ministers cross floor for ACT police amendment

ACT Justice Spokesman Patricia Schnauer today said that cross party support for her amendment to reduce discrimination against Police officers, who are currently required to retire once they turn 55, showed how MMP could work in this Parliament.

"Even Ministers broke the long standing convention of collective cabinet responsibility and voted against the minority government to support my amendment. This is unheard of in New Zealand politics," said Mrs Schnauer.

"The Police Act is not subject to the Human Rights Act. The Police Act requires police retire at age 55, although the Police Commissioner has a discretion to extend the age on a year to year basis up to 60.

"The problem is that the Commissioner has interpreted the law narrowly, forcing many good sworn officers out of the force.

"My amendment recognises that even though the Human Rights Act does not apply to the Police Act, that should not stop the Police Commissioner from taking into account the principles of the Human Rights legislation."

"By widening the discretion the Commissioner will have the grounds to allow more able bodied police officers to stay in the force after 55. Their experience and availability to mentor younger officers will act as a positive morale boost for Police," said Mrs Schnauer.

"It is ridiculous that the Police are bound by the Human Rights legislation when recruiting officers, but are not bound by it when it comes to retirement. The practical result is that Police can hire an officer at 47 and then demand they retire at 55 even though they might be fit and able to continue in the force."

"We have career criminals in this country who are still going strong in their 60s. It is ridiculous that this Government is still trying to force out police officers at age 55."

"All police want are the same human rights as every other New Zealanders - including criminals. Government should move quickly to remove all aspects of age discrimination in the Police Act" said Mrs Schnauer.

Mrs Schnauer's amendment was passed under urgency on Saturday night.


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