Grant Robertson is joyfully playing the "biggest dog in the yard" to scare off minor parties from trying to pull Labour's tail in any post-election coalition negotiation.
In multiple forums — including at an Auckland Business Chamber breakfast yesterday morning — the Finance Minister has been spraying his patch. He again underlined that Labour will not implement a wealth tax in the next parliamentary term "if we are in government".
The Green Party has tried to make wealth taxes a bottom line for coalition negotiations with Labour.
Robertson does openly acknowledge that Greens co-leader James Shaw has also made a wealth tax a "top priority". This distinction is not simply semantic. It provides plenty of wriggle room for both parties to coalesce in a post-election scenario without Shaw losing face.
Or not, if the smaller party chooses to dig in.
In a country where acquiring untaxed wealth through property investment is a national pastime, Robertson knows he will lose some of the middle New Zealand vote if Kiwis believe he will trade the implementation of the Greens' wealth tax for power.
Under Labour's policies, the better off will be hit with a personal tax hike to 39c in the dollar for those earning incomes over $180,000. But that only hits 2 per cent of taxpayers.
On their current poll showings of 5 to 6 per cent, the Greens will be lucky to make it back to Parliament. They are captive to Labour whether they like it or not.
At this stage it appears increasingly unlikely that the National Party will get to form a Government after the election.
The party is paying a hefty price for its disunity. It has a period of soul-searching ahead and needs to rebuild.
So, when it comes to New Zealand First — still rating around 2 per cent in the latest polls — even if it gets over 5 per cent of votes at the election it will not have the clout it had in 2017.
Robertson and Jacinda Ardern were comprehensively outplayed by New Zealand First's negotiators after the 2017 election.
Not only did NZ First extract key economic policies as part of its coalition deal. But their MPs also got to preside over some of the most powerful Cabinet portfolios like Foreign Affairs, State-Owned Enterprises, Defence, Regional Development and Infrastructure.
This was (in part) down to the fact that the experienced and wily NZ First leader Winston Peters was able to extract concessions from Labour that National would not countenance.
As the able Cabinet minister Tracey Martin has openly let on, Labour was so inexperienced that when it came to signing their agreement to NZ First's policy wins, they overlooked the need to get their minor coalition partner's signoff on their key policies in return.
Realpolitik dictated that Labour needed NZ First to become Government in 2017.
The upshot was that NZ First got to play the role of "handbrake" on their coalition partner. That's a factor that Peters is using during the current election campaign when he promotes his party as being the only one to offer "insurance" against the implementation of a socialist-style agenda after the October 17 election.
It's a long way from the time when Peters and Ardern appeared to be operating a co-prime ministership in all but name.
By September 2018, Peters was openly demonstrating that he was prepared to go against Ardern if she announced policies that were not in the Speech from the Throne or in the coalition or support agreements Labour signed following the 2017 election.
Labour will not make that mistake again.
Peters has exerted considerable power in the coalition and has not been afraid to use it.
The problem is that the party is now known for what it is against, rather than what it is for.
Robertson and Ardern clearly have momentum.
So what can we expect if Robertson is again Finance Minister after next Saturday?
Yesterday, he outlined that infrastructure will be a clear priority.
If NZ First is not returned, he could opt to take on the portfolio himself as was the case with preceding National finance ministers. There are big plans — some $40 billion invested in projects over 10 years and 8000 houses to be built as part of a public housing programme.
Facing up to the sustainability challenge is the second arm of Robertson's plans.
This could see the development of a green hydrogen export industry once New Zealand moves to 100 per cent renewable electricity.
Making headway with productivity is the third arm.
Labour has taken a leaf out of the Singapore Government model, developing industry transformation plans in concert with BusinessNZ and the CTU. Already, agritech is well under way.
This is not the sexy stuff that grabs headlines.
But could form the bones of an economic transformation plan.