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Police get back the right to stand for council

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, June 23 NZPA - The Police Association has welcomed the passage of a bill to restore the right of police officers to stand for election to their local council.

The law change was passed by Parliament last night.

Until now police officers had to take special leave during an election campaign and resign if they were elected.

Police Minister Judith Collins, who introduced the bill that removed the restrictions in the Policing Act, said democracy had been restored.

"The Government is committed to supporting our police and their rights as private citizens," she said.

"This change will ensure that police staff are not treated any differently to other state servants, who are not prevented by legislation from standing for election and serving on local authorities."

The Policing (Involvement in Local Authority) Amendment Bill was passed while Parliament was sitting under urgency and Ms Collins said it was in time for this year's local government elections.

Police internal policies will be reviewed to ensure any conflicts of interest are managed properly.

Labour supported the bill. The Green Party and the Maori Party opposed it.

"This was an issue that concerned a great number of police," said association president Greg O'Connor.

"The statutory bar simply created another divide between police, as individuals, and the communities they live in and serve. That was in no one's interests."

Mr O'Connor said police officers had served on local councils in many parts of the country over many years.

"They have done so because they believe they can make a positive difference. Those communities have been the richer for their involvement," he said.

He said the association was pleased Ms Collins, with the support of Parliament, had been able to honour the Government's commitment to remove the bar in time for this year's local body elections.

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