Jacinda Ardern's "team of five million" rhetoric is starting to wear thin.
The Prime Minister would not have had to employ coercive strategies if there had been a truly united team in the first place.
Pity, too, that in a week when Labour and National finally joined forces for a joint approach to addressing our scandalous housing problem, that the opportunity was not taken to forge a united political front on addressing our Covid emergency.
Surely it is time to bring all major political leaders into the tent.
This virus is requiring wartime levels of coercion (in the national interest) to defeat.
If the major political players could show they too were a team when it came to defeating Covid, that would be a boost to confidence.
Yesterday, Ardern said "vaccinations are our armour" when announcing the 90 per cent target and new traffic light system. "They help keep us safe. If you want summer, get vaccinated. If you want a haircut, get vaccinated. If you want to go to a gym or a sports event, get vaccinated. If you're not vaccinated, there will be everyday things that you will miss out on."
The Prime Minister could have added: "If you want to retain a benefit, get vaccinated" — which would have been a spur to some malingerers to get on to it.
But Social Democratic leaders tend not to go that far.
There is in fact no rational reason why all eligible Aucklanders should not be fully vaccinated by now. But there is a large cohort — a few of whom are wilfully playing dumb or wanting to hide criminal activities such as some gang members — that have been playing well outside team rules.
Getting those people to now play ball so vaccination rates step up sufficiently for 90 per cent of Aucklanders (within the coverage of all three DHBs) to be fully vaccinated by early December is going to take a concerted effort.
The Prime Minister is changing her stance.
She has brought more of her Cabinet colleagues to the fore.
This ought to build more confidence in the Government.
They include the impressive Peeni Henare, who as Minister for Whānau Ora has a relatively no-nonsense approach and could have been brought into the play earlier to spur Māori uptake.
But I question that with 21 MPs in the current Parliament identifying as Māori, surely they could have united themselves and demonstrated sufficient leadership months ago to have ensured coherent on-the-ground vaccination programmes for Māori were in place by the time the Delta outbreak occurred. This would have borne fruit among those younger Māori who have yet to vaccinate.
But the organisation was so late that all Aucklanders have to stay in lockdown for another six weeks while the stragglers (along with other malingerers) are cajoled to get a jab.
The added problem is this Government's tolerance for widespread civil disobedience.
Not just from the anti-vaxxers and the likes of "Bishop" Brian Tamaki, whose respect for his flock is so derelict that he would put them in harm's way to make a point.
Why pay his church wage subsidies when Finance Minister Grant Robertson said yesterday that he was looking at not making the payments to businesses that failed to abide by vaccination certificate rules?
A total of $127,903.20 was paid to Destiny Church in wage subsidies: $91,384.80 for 13 employees in Auckland and $36,518.40 for six in Hamilton.
There is the risk that growing concern among the vaccinated whose future and livelihoods are now being held to ransom by this group may turn into outright anger. It is this group which needs more doses of Ardern's trademark empathy and assurance.
She did display empathy yesterday when she spoke about small business.
But having finally set a target — after weeks of saying her Government would not do that — many will see yesterday's rules as unfair.
Yes, the Government was slow off the mark — appallingly so — in getting sufficient vaccines into Auckland to ensure sufficient shots were in sufficient arms to boost overall protection ahead of the Delta outbreak. Business proposals to build MIQ outside of Auckland in particular — or adjacent to Auckland Airport — were rejected. Saliva and antigen testing were pushed back.
But it is clear the Government is now finally engaging with business leaders on the Covid war front.
The package of assistance for small business was timely.
Government has also listened to the 25 large companies that have pushed for antigen testing and more.
The next six weeks will be testing.
I wrote a fortnight ago that Ardern should come up to Auckland.
I still hold to that.
Yesterday's financial support was welcome but it is the moral support which will be needed in the coming weeks.