Police Minister Chris Hipkins has accused National MP Mark Mitchell of making comments that suggest diversity among police undermines confidence.
Hipkins' comments on social media came after he and Mitchell clashed during an on-air interview with Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB this morning.
"Police are almost at breaking point, gang membership is up over 40 per cent, violent crime is up 21 per cent, police are dealing with up to 122 mental health-related calls a day," Mitchell said on air. "We just had a weekend where four people were stabbed in Auckland, the mother of an 11-year-old boy was stabbed and killed in Christchurch... police still don't have a firearm prohibition orders in their hands. And you are in the House giving yourself patsy questions, talking about diversity.
"I don't think that's going to engender a lot of confidence in the police in terms of you making the big fire and brimstone speech last week - 'we'll give the police [the resources] they need'. Talking about diversity in the House, mate, with patsy questions is not a good start."
Hipkins responded: "Mark, I think the fact that you have a problem with the fact that a quarter of our women speaks volumes about the National Party's position on policing. I think it's something that we should all celebrate."
Hipkins tweeted later that Mitchell "attacked" him during the interview for talking about increased diversity in police.
"He claimed it's undermining confidence. Wow!! National really do seem to have a problem with women at the moment!," he wrote.
In the interview, Mitchell said that Hipkins should be paying attention to an increase in crime and fatigue among police.
He said that "talking about diversity in the house with patsy questions was not a good start" for Hipkins as the new Police Minister.
"We've been very proud for over 30 years to have been increasing diversity in the police, it's not something new, you don't bring anything new to the table on that," Mitchell said.
Hipkins hit back and said, "Having more cops on the beat is going to make all the difference... If the National Party, instead of talking about firearms prohibition laws, they actually delivered them, then it could have happened a long time ago."
Mitchell later told the Herald that Hipkins twisted what he said in an effort to make a political attack.
"Instead of doing that, he should be focusing on doing what his job is meant to be and that is the police minister coming in, realising and actually being prepared to understand that there is a real problem at the moment. There is a lot of pressure our frontline."
He said Hipkins should be focused on the retention of experienced staff and discussing the issue with Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.
"Because at the moment they're going to have a major issue emerging of people leaving the police."
Hipkins said having "more cops on the beat" was going to make a difference but Mitchell argued back that an increase in cops has not been seen.
He urged the police minister to "get out" and talk to frontline staff.
"They're fatigued with hearing you guys keep talking about that, you haven't been able to deliver the 1800, your two years behind on that. Get focused on the crime."