I’ve never seen a new story break in a leaders debate before but tonight Phil Goff broke the news of the government’s secret plan to freeze police recruitment.
Looking at Key’s response I suspect that this recruiting freeze and the plan to keep it on the down-low are true.
That’s significantly at odds with the National government’s tough on crime and no cuts to the front-line claims and, coupled with the claim of a pre-election cover-up, it goes to the integrity of the claims National is selling itself with.
Also, Espiner’s move to shift the debate on before Key gave a proper response is simply bad journalism.
I can understand that he was probably thrown by the claim and wanted to maintain control of his show but I would have thought that TVNZ’s political editor would have had the nous to recognise a good story and let if play for just another half a minute – that would have been enough to get Key’s reaction without unsettling the debate.
Update: 726 Police staff left the job last year, of a workforce of 11,984. So, a freeze on replacement cops would see hundreds fewer on the job after just one year.