14 Oct 2016

You can have tax cuts or safer streets, Labour says

7:07 am on 14 October 2016

Voters have a clear choice at next year's election according to Labour - safer streets or tax cuts.

Andrew Little at the Bridge run.

Andrew Little says Labour will boost police numbers by 1000 if elected. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Labour has pledged to use the government's budgeted surplus to pay for 1000 extra police, if it was elected to government next year.

It said the policy would cost $180 million a year.

A $1.8 billion surplus has been recorded for the year to June, more than double what was forecast in May's Budget.

The healthy state of the government's books, driven by the growing economy, has left the door open for tax cuts in election year.

Labour leader Andrew Little said police were currently stretched far too thinly to stop most criminal activities.

He said the government hadn't given them the funds to do the job properly.

"The government has already this year started talking about $3 billion worth of tax cuts.

"The choice next year is going to be whether we want to use the government funds to invest in those things that are going to make communities safer, provide opportunity, or fund National's tax cuts."

Police Minister Judith Collins has also said the government would lift police numbers, but she won't release any details on when that may happen, or by how many.

"I've been working with Bill English and the prime minister for months on this. It's being very carefully thought out."

Police Association President Chris Cahill.

Chris Cahill said the government needed to at least match Labour's promised police boost. Photo: Supplied

"I imagine that any announcement will be made by the prime minister when he wishes to," Ms Collins said.

Police Association President Chris Cahill said police were stretched to breaking point, and the ball was now in the government's court to at least match Labour's numbers.

Labour's not the only opposition party promising more police.

New Zealand First has also signalled it would boost numbers by 1800.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters will reiterate that to police when he speaks to the association conference in Wellington today.