President's Column: The proof is in the keeping

NZPA - Chris Cahill | Fri June 1st, 2018

Confirmation of the Government’s commitment to 1800 extra police and 485 Police employees was great to see in the Budget.

Like any promises, of course, the proof is in the keeping, and the Association has no intention of sitting back and relaxing when the physical and mental safety of our members is at stake.

Although the allocation of 700 of the new officers to organised crime has raised a few eyebrows, the reality is that gangs and drugs are large drivers of all crime. This bold move has the potential to be a game changer if the resources are deployed appropriately.

The Association will be watching the use of up to 300 authorised officers (AOs) working as specialist investigators to make sure their roles comply with the intentions of the Policing Act.

As with all Budgets, this one took heat from certain sectors, but fiscal restraints are a reality we are all familiar with, including the Association, which has a duty to keep its finances in good health.

The always unpalatable issue of rate rises in insurance and welfare dues has to be addressed to ensure we are fit for purpose for current members and those who join in the coming years. Top of mind for the Association during this evaluation is the reason it exists – for you, our members.

We have completed a necessarily robust process that we are sure will withstand your scrutiny.

With Police Health Plan, the Association can say without a doubt that it has the leanest overheads in the health insurance industry. We run our own insurance on a model that does not profit from our members. We pay out 96 cents in the dollar, a few cents ahead of our nearest competitor and well ahead of the commercial health insurance sector in which major companies sit around 65-85 cents.

The reasons for high inflation rates in the medical sector include annual surgical cost increases of 8-12 per cent and primary medical increases of 3-4 per cent. This medical inflation reflects the soaring costs of pharmaceuticals, hospital stays, new technologies and specialists, with some orthopaedic procedures, such as spinal, exceeding $100,000 per procedure.

There is no way of avoiding this inflation, but the board is determined, wherever possible, to return excess reserves to members. Therefore, we will introduce increases in benefits, including a doubling of the dental allowance and increasing the overnight hospital bed rate up to $750 a night.

With Police Fire & General, the Association has not increased the rates for three years, but the time has come for us to accept the reality of inflation across the sector. While actual home policy increases will be determined by specific location risks, we have restricted contents insurance increases to 5 per cent and vehicle insurance to 10 per cent.

Finally, after more than 30 years, the board has concluded that the sustainability of our Welfare Fund requires slight increases in full and associate membership subscriptions. These increases will go some way towards the burgeoning costs of administering the fund, supplying welfare grants and keeping our large Holiday Home network in the sort of shape that will continue to benefit future generations of our members.

Most of you will be very aware that the welfare benefits the Association provides to members are the envy of police unions around the world, and we intend to keep it that way.

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