If Police Minister Stuart Nash was embarrassed that the Government's target of 1800 more police officers was effectively halved by a single comment, he did a good job of hiding it.
He had cause to be embarrassed.
For two years Nash had been trumpeting the Coalition Government's goal to grow the police force by 1800 more officers in three years , over and above those who left the force for whatever reason.
Whenever questioned about it, he said that the target accounted for attrition.
He said countless times that it was an aspirational goal as it had been budgeted over five years, rather than in this three-year term, though he was keen to push for more money and complete it in a shorter timeframe.
And then, with a single word, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern undercut him by appearing to change the target when questioned about it in parliament - more likely to have been an error than wilful.
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She was asked in the House if the Government was on track to meet its target of 1800 new police this term. Her unequivocal "yes" prompted much gasping and guffawed surprise from National MPs who were used to Nash's talk about the extra police being budgeted over five years.
From that moment, all answers about the target had to fall in line with Ardern's answer.
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The following day, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters made it clear in the House that the target was about the number of new recruits , not net additional officers.
This meant that the goal would be achieved in just over two years, instead of more than four years, based on the current trajectory.
To avoid embarrassing his leader, Nash said there were always two independent targets: 1800 new police, as per the coalition agreement, and 1800 additional net police, a goal with coincidentally the same number.
He had just neglected to mention the two different targets at any time over the previous two years.
Nash added that only Ardern and Peters could speak for the Labour-NZ First agreement, effectively nullifying everything he had said in the past two years about the target in that context.
Both Ardern and Peters have a leg to stand on, given that the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement commits to "strive towards adding 1800 new police officers over three years".
But if you accept that there were always two targets, you also accept that they have been indifferent onlookers while Nash, for two years, had talked about a different target.
And not just Nash.
Police and the Police Association have also spoken with one voice about 1800 additional net police officers; Association president Chris Cahill was as upset about Peters' and Ardern's comments as Nash should have been, but was later reassured that 1800 additional net police was still being promised.
That's not to say that hiring 1800 new recruits is not be celebrated, as it will be in a November police graduation attended by both Ardern and Peters.
But shifting the goalposts so suddenly is far from a good look.
It was a similar case for Phil Twyford, who a year ago had the carpet pulled out from under him regarding the regional fuel tax.
Ardern, seemingly on the fly, declared in the House that there would be no regional fuel taxes other than in Auckland while she was Prime Minister .
Twyford fell in line.
He said Ardern had talked to him about the idea on the morning that she declared it in the House, but had to sing a different tune when Ardern said she had make it known to Ministers for some time.
He then said he had known Ardern's view on the issue since the beginning of 2018 - several months before the law enabling the tax to be implemented was passed.
Twyford had simply chosen not to pass that information on to the 14 councils that had expressed an interest in having a regional fuel tax.
Twyford, like Nash, also didn't come across as aggrieved by Ardern's comments.
In both cases if Ardern had made an error, she could have clarified it afterwards instead of making the policy shift sideways to align with what she had said.
Such errors undermine her ministers, whether intentional or not.