Police Commissioner Andrew Coster had his first meeting with new Police Minister Mark Mitchell today, saying afterwards that he had not offered to resign and believed he had Mitchell’s confidence in the role.
In opposition, Mitchell was a critic of Coster’s style of police leadership. Thus far, neither Mitchell nor Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has expressed confidence in Coster or been willing to comment on whether they want him to remain in the role.
The police commissioner is appointed on the recommendation of the prime minister. Coster’s term ends in April 2025.
He told the NZ Herald after the meeting, which lasted more than an hour, that he was confident he and Mitchell could work together well. He said he had not offered to resign.
Asked if he was confident he had Mitchell’s confidence, he said: “Yes I am.”
He did not say whether Mitchell had told him that directly. “I am confident that he is confident in my ability to do this job.”
However, Mitchell refused to voice confidence, saying he had “no comment at this stage”.
Asked if Mitchell’s previous criticism of Coster was a factor in their ability to work together, Coster put it down to Mitchell’s role as an opposition spokesperson.
“I think he has played exactly his role as opposition spokesperson, which is to challenge the things he believes should be different about the way policing is going and the way community safety is going. I respect that role and am really confident he and I will move forward together.
“We had a really productive discussion. Minister Mitchell and I have worked incredibly well together before and I am confident we can do so again.
“We had a great conversation and a lot of things we would see the same way, I think, in terms of what we need to do in police.”
On Sunday, before being sworn in, Mitchell told the NZ Herald he did not want to comment on Coster until after the pair had met.
Coster was appointed under the former Labour Government in 2020. If he continues to the end of his term, he will be in charge of implementing a large part of National’s key moves on law and order.
Mitchell said his past criticism was mainly aimed at the former Government and its approach to crime. “And yes, I have been critical of Andrew Coster because he is the commissioner. I’ve publicly said he should be exercising his operational independence in terms of dealing with some of the issues we are dealing with.”
Luxon had also refused to comment on whether Coster should stay in the job, saying that would be up to Mitchell.
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