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New Minister to Review Speeding Enforcement

Original source: NZ HERALD - http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10351147

King may review speeding fines

By Elizabeth Binning
New Police Minister Annette King wants to rebuild public confidence in the force - and she may start by reviewing speeding fines.

Bolstering public confidence in police is a big goal but one that the former Health Minister sees as a key challenge in the next three years.

Her other goal, and one that is likely to prove popular with motorists, is to investigate revenue gathering from speeding fines - which now generates about $40 million a year.

Mrs King told the Herald that she was still coming to terms with her appointment.

"I can't give you lots of forward-looking vision and so on - I haven't even been sworn in yet," she said.

Despite that, Mrs King was enthusiastic about her new portfolio, one that she asked the Prime Minister for.

"I was six years as the Health Minister and I was looking for a new challenge.

"I think that there are challenges in police but I also think we have a very fine police force by any international comparison and I want to build on that."

Mrs King said she wanted to build on service delivery and standards and was keen to work with police officers to achieve that.

"Part of the coalition agreement is that there will be an extra 1000 police over this three-year term. That will be satisfying but it will also be challenging because of the recruitment."

When asked what she saw as the biggest challenges, Mrs King said: "I think there is probably going to be a number of challenges ... but I'm really keen to have public confidence in our police force."

She said she was also keen to look at public attitudes towards driving and speed.

"There are often criticisms that the speeding laws are just there to bring in revenue and in my view a success would be when the Government got no revenue from speeding fines."

Mrs King said a lot of work had been done already to address public confidence and she hoped that resolving a number of historical issues would help in that area.

The Police Association yesterday welcomed the announcement, saying it was encouraged by the appointment of "a high-ranking Cabinet minister and proven performer".

Association president Greg O'Connor said Mrs King was inheriting a much healthier portfolio than her predecessor, George Hawkins. The promises of 1000 extra staff in the next three years set the environment for a vastly improved police service.

While Mrs King has not had a lot to do with police on a national level, she has been a victim of crime (her house was burgled twice) and has worked closely with officers in her electorate, Rongotai.

Besides a new minister, there will also be a new police commissioner next year. Commissioner Rob Robinson announced his retirement this week.