Jacinda Ardern must be weighing whether to call time on the triennial game of "wag the dog" that passes for New Zealand's general election.
Back of the Prime Minister's mind must be a rising temptation to tell Winston Peters to "shove it".
Instead, she would go to the election with a clear vision for a (new) New Zealand in the post-Covid-19 era.
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Ardern's vision could draw on the inspiring flow of ideas, concepts and goodwill that has welled up from many New Zealanders during our enforced three-month break from the monotony of working lives during the earlier stages of Covid-19. Together with a workable plan for New Zealand to finally make the shift to a sustainable economy — instead of simply talking about it.
Many did indulge in such a rethink when "working from home" during lockdown with our relative ease punctured only by bird song and the occasional loud petrol-fuelled vehicle passing by. As New Zealand moved down to alert levels 2 and 1, the many Zoom vision-casting meetings have morphed into all sorts of revolutionary cells whose members are keen to make those dreams reality.
This mindshift is already well under way among the top echelons of New Zealand business and among top public servants.
Leading private sector chief executives, the bosses of the Reserve Bank and the NZ Super Fund, together with the Treasury Secretary and the CEO of the Environmental Ministry recently met at the Fenwick Forum.
The forum participants explored how Covid-19 recovery plans might support the transformation of New Zealand's food systems, energy systems and transport systems.
Their goal was a nation where green technologies and initiatives are prioritised and regenerative practices in agriculture are the norm.
A forum readout said the Covid-19 recovery is likely to have a significant component led by the primary sector supporting our food system. The desire to invest in "shovel-ready" projects also provided the perfect opportunity to not only bring forward investment in transport but to transform patterns of mobility for people and freight. When it came to energy, co-ordinated investment would underpin any vision of a sustainable recovery plan.
But this week Ardern was blocked by New Zealand First from making good on her 2017 election promise to introduce light rail in Auckland.
This is a fundamental policy which has been backed by Auckland City and Labour.
In February, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the decision between two competing proposals would be announced in March. They were from NZ Infra — a joint venture of the NZ Superannuation Fund and Canadian institutional investors CDPQ Infra — and Waka Kotahi from the NZ Transport Agency.
Twyford kept up the facade that negotiations would result in a Cabinet decision.
But as far back as February, NZ First had opposed moving forward on either option.
While Twyford was talking up the prospects of Auckland finally getting light rail, NZ First's Shane Jones — who is also Infrastructure Minister — was making it clear at various infrastructure industry events that there was no unanimity in Cabinet.
Jones was particularly opposed to the cost of the NZ Infra proposal and the potential involvement of the Canadian pension fund and investor, CDPQ.
Auckland light rail is a cornerstone of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project and central to an integrated public transport system.
Auckland Transport argues with the addition of two light rail lines from the city centre to Māngere and the northwest suburbs, there will be a transport system that seamlessly connects Auckland via light rail, heavy rail, ferries and buses.
Within the city centre to Māngere corridor, there are large areas of publicly-owned land with high redevelopment potential to increase Auckland's housing supply and support urban regeneration.
Such a project would be at the heart of a sustainable city.
But Auckland must now wait for the outcome of the next election to see what if anything will get off the ground.
Ardern had also suffered the embarrassment of having Peters snuff out the prospects for the capital gains regime that she and Grant Robertson promoted at the 2017 election.
Any resultant legislation was to be passed in Labour's first term then endorsed through the 2020 election.
But in Government, New Zealand First would not support the proposed changes because they were claimed to be out of step with what people wanted.
But there was no evidence but fear-mongering that New Zealanders would not support a capital gains tax regime if it was simply fair.
Ardern sucked up that defeat too.
Question is: Does she now have the cojones to make it clear Labour will not go into the September 19 election leaving voters with the expectation that she will pony up with Peters' NZ First to form a post-election coalition?
Or, will she play the Greens forward as the obvious partner for Labour if it is in the position to form the next government?
With Labour still ranking at 50 per cent in this week's Colmar Brunton poll — despite a punishing and well-deserved week of news focus on the lack of intensive monitoring at various Covid-19 self-isolation and quarantine hotels — the election is still Ardern's win.
Simple maths makes this a possibility.
The Colmar poll showed New Zealand First had plummeted to just 2 per cent support. This is below the Act Party's 3 per cent showing. So, why wouldn't Ardern just move on and turn her attention to the Greens — with its 6 per cent showing — as her next coalition partner rather than the status quo?
Sure, politics doesn't quite work in such a logical fashion.
Ardern might be concerned that NZ First will magically rise again after the September 19 general election with sufficient votes to decide whether it is her or National's Todd Muller who he ordains as our next Prime Minister. But that assumes National is well above 40 per cent.
Necessarily, Ardern would have to be armed with tacit agreement from the Greens that the two parties would form a post-election coalition if they had the numbers after September 19.
Instead of playing the numbers, why wouldn't Ardern and the Greens' James Shaw work on a revolutionary platform for the future which is fit for our times and stop for once the tail wagging the dog?