Police Minister Poto Williams has refused to let National's police spokesman meet the Commissioner or any district commanders, saying cops are too busy for him.
Mark Mitchell took over the National police portfolio late last year and has cried foul over Williams' repeated refusals of his requests.
The Opposition MP and Williams also had a feisty exchange in the House today, where the minister accused former cop Mitchell of "disrespecting" police.
Williams had allowed Mitchell's colleague Simeon Brown to meet police when he was the spokesman.
Brown met Police Commissioner Andrew Coster and district commanders in December 2020, soon after the last election.
But Mitchell's attempts to secure initial meetings have been rebuffed.
It is the convention for Opposition MPs to get a minister's agreement before meeting high-ranked police or senior officials in the government sector.
"She is being petulant and vindictive and making it personal because I am doing my job in holding her to account," Mitchell told Newstalk ZB.
"It may be uncomfortable being told I don't think she's very good at her job and I don't think she's across her portfolio, but for her now to use her political power and position in government to start blocking me from meetings - that's Third World stuff."
Mitchell told the Mike Hosking Breakfast: "She may as well go and join the Cabinet in Somalia."
Asked why she rejected Mitchell but not Brown, Williams said she knew that was of concern to Mitchell, but it was for her to make decisions on a case-by-case basis.
"I think the police have been quite busy in the last few months, so in this case I've decided [against it].
"[Mitchell] thinks that somehow, he's taking this personally. Simeon Brown was given permission...You can appreciate the last few weeks have been extraordinarily busy for police."
She said police had not told her they were too busy for a meeting but "as Minister of Police I have an understanding of what police are going through at the moment".
Williams yesterday rejected Mitchell's request to meet the commissioner and district commanders.
The reason given was that Mitchell was on the Justice Select Committee, and Coster and other senior police sometimes appeared before the committee.
Mitchell could also put in written questions, Williams said.
With those avenues open to him, there was no specific need for Mitchell to meet Coster or district commanders, the minister added.
Williams said there was no problem with local MPs meeting local police, but when it came to the top brass, the decision was hers to make.
"It is ultimately up to me at the end of the day and I have decided not to."
She noted that when Labour was in Opposition, police spokesman Stuart Nash was also declined on numerous occasions.
The Government has faced criticism from several quarters about blocking access to senior officials and briefings by other MPs.
An attempt by National's justice spokesman Paul Goldsmith to get a select committee briefing from police on the handling of the Parliamentary protests was refused.
Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick has also repeatedly failed in attempts to get a Treasury briefing for MPs on the finance select committee on its house price forecasting methods.
TRADING FIRE IN HOUSE
Williams and Mitchell also clashed in Question Time this afternoon.
The National MP asked Williams if gang violence increased or decreased under her watch.
Williams initially provided a lengthy response about budgets and police numbers.
Mitchell was allowed to ask the question again.
"I reject the premise of that question, because in order to keep our communities safe, we must ensure that our police are resourced to do so," Williams responded.
She criticised National's record and added: "You cannot do more with less, Mr Mitchell."
He then asked what premise the minister was rejecting.
Williams mentioned Operation Tauwhiro, a nationally co-ordinated police action aimed at stopping gang-fuelled gun crime.
"The organised crime groups are seizing millions of dollars' worth of cash and assets, they're making dozens and dozens of arrests," Williams said.
The minister added: "Can I remind that member he used to be a police officer and he spends every day in this House disrespecting and diminishing the work of New Zealand police, and I stand by the police every single day against your record."
The comment about disrespect sparked howls of outrage from the opposition benches.