Judith Collins will have left listeners in no doubt whatsoever. In fact she's so adamant that Goff is wrong that she told Plunket that she would resign if Goff's allegation was proven to be true. And not only would Judith Collins resign; she would expect Police Commissioner Peter Marshall to fall on his sword if there was a plan which he had not briefed her on.
Sean Plunket took it a step further. He suggested that perhaps Phil Goff should be the one resigning if his allegations are unable to be sustantiated. We're not sure that's necessary; after all, the voting public will make a judgment on Labour and Phil Goff's credibility in just two days' time. Depending on the result of the election and the fall-out, Goff may well be reassessing his future in any event.
In any event, Phil Goff seems to have made a huge error of judgment here, and is compounding it every time he tries to defend his position. Stuff is currently reporting thus:
Labour leader Phil Goff says National has been "forced to confirm" a freeze on police recruitment he raised in last night's televised leaders' debate with Prime Minister John Key.
Goff this morning dismissed as "political spin" claims that the deferral was down to high retention rates in the police force.
"This is about cost savings," Goff said,
National has denied the claims and said Goff was "desperate" and "making stuff up".
Key was unable to say during the debate whether Goff's comments were true, but said any such decision would be "operational" and police were having to live within their budgets, like all government departments.
National's law and order spokeswoman Judith Collins this morning said Goff was wrong, though she admitted that the January intake had been delayed until March because fewer people were quitting the force.
"Police will recruit and train new officers next year, as normal. However, low numbers of police leaving the force means there will be a delay in the call-up of the first wing of 2012 only.
"It has been full house at the police college in recent months as the last of the 600 extra frontline police promised by National complete their training."
Compounding the original mis-truth will do Goff no good in the end run. Plunket sees right through him; he said after the interview with Collins that Goff's allegation "looks to be in the realm of fantasy". Goff is effectively accusing both the Minsiter of Police and the Police Commissioner of lying. He needs to put up or shut up, and he needs to do it before the campaign closes at midnight tomorrow night, when election issues can now longer be reported.