How many times do prominent company chairs and chief executives have to put their hands up and ask to be taken into the inner sanctum on the fight against Covid-19 before Jacinda Ardern listens?
The Prime Minister has not "lost the boardroom".
But when five senior chairs of major NZX companies called for more openness from the Government on its plan for getting New Zealand to "Covid normal", she should be aware they would have carefully weighed the potential for prime ministerial blowback before going public.
The five are Patrick Strange (chairman of Chorus NZ and Auckland Airport), Prue Flacks (chairwoman of Mercury Energy), Joan Withers (chairwoman of The Warehouse Group), Rob Campbell (chairman of SkyCity, Tourism Holdings, Summerset and Chancellor of Auckland University of Technology) and Scott St John (Chancellor of the University of Auckland and chairman of Fisher & Paykel Healthcare).
Basically, they — like many — want the Prime Minister to get beyond the current flannel and sloganising and ensure in-depth detail is put in public so that business can make strategies and fall-back plans for keeping their firms moving forward during and after this pandemic.
Between them the five chairs preside over companies covering a broad sweep of the NZ economy.
They were sufficiently exercised by two recent lockdowns (Auckland is still in level 3 and the rest of the country in level 2) to say that the Covid-19 virus is now firmly part of how we live and work both here in New Zealand and globally.
"While widespread vaccination will mean the pandemic phase will pass, the virus will continue to be a risk that threatens poor health outcomes and overwhelming the health system," Strange said in their combined press statement.
In effect they want details of New Zealand's near to long-term Covid-19 strategy to be made available beyond government circles.
In the Herald's 2020 Mood of the Boardroom CEOs survey last September, it was obvious then that senior business had had enough of "9th floor" reign and wanted a full seat at the table as the Covid-19 pandemic impacted their firms.
As I reported then, despite their admiration for Ardern's outstanding leadership during the white heat of the Covid-19 crisis there was a sense that the private sector's own ideas were not filtering through sufficiently to either Ardern or Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
Nor were they being acted upon.
Mainfreight chief executive Don Braid spoke out then saying it was time for the PM to embrace the business community rather than relying on the bureaucrats for advice and execution. "There are many willing to devote time, energy and ideas in areas that allow New Zealand to find the right environment to operate in a post-lockdown economy.
The "group of five" are not alone in their views.
I regularly spoke with a group of chairs and senior directors during the first level 4 lockdown in early 2020 and what has been made public this week reflects a long-term frustration among directors.
Businessman Rob Fyfe spoke out publicly last year after he stepped down from being the PM's business liaison adviser about the difficulties in making headway with the bureaucracy on business's behalf last year. The PM's own Business Advisory Council similarly felt shut out of having influence on decisions.
What the "group of five" have called for is straight-forward: the key metrics, thresholds and milestones officials are tracking to judge performance against the Covid strategy; details of NZ's contracted access to vaccines, including the timing and size of each tranche of vaccines through to the ongoing vaccine purchase programme and the principles which will drive the roll-out; the publication of NZ's testing capacity and plans for enhanced community, workplace and surge testing options, the inclusion of additional testing technology such as saliva PCR tests and any other changes to the testing regime as recommended by the Roche Simpson report.
There's more besides including where the Government sits on its plan to develop the "world's smartest border" to enable NZ business to reconnect with critical overseas customers, international students to return and the restoration of safe travel between NZ, the Pacific Islands and Australia.
This should not be a difficult ask.
The failure to put this information in public, so that all, not just senior business — can plan, could be read as arrogance.
If so, the prime minister should make sure that she calls the bureaucrats to account on this.
Underlying there is a suspicion — based on the revelations of bureaucratic incompetence exposed in the Simpson Roche report, that sensible strategies are not in place.
This must be made a priority and all the better if business can play a role.
If elements change — then deal with it then.
But a roadmap is essential.