New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball’s bill introducing a six-month minimum sentence for assaults on first responders has passed its first reading in Parliament.
Mr Ball said the new offence of "injuring a first responder or prison officer with intent" would target people who attacked paramedics, police, firefighters, and corrections officers.
"First responders operate in high risk, urgent, and potentially life threatening situations. It is our responsibility to ensure they are safe when doing their job," he added.
Corrections Association president Alan Whitley said his association were in support of the bill, and also told Stuff.co.nz that prison officers nationwide were attacked on average nearly twice a day.
Police Association president Chris Cahill said the bill showed a recognition "that the risks continue to grow, and in some way have spread beyond police" to other first responders.
Tougher sentences might not prevent people who carried out impulsive or spontaneous assaults, but high-profile cases where the new minimum sentences were imposed could deter would-be attackers, he said.
The bill would now go to the select committee process.