There should have been only one serious topic on the agenda for Friday's trans-Tasman prime ministerial talks in Australia.
That is the Australian Prime Minister's decision to move ahead of international authorities and warn his country to prepare for a coronavirus pandemic, and if, or even when, the New Zealand Prime Minister will follow suit.
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And even more importantly, what joint actions would the two prime ministers take to keep the citizens of Australasia safe?
In fact little emerged from their meeting to bolster public confidence.
There may have been a time for Jacinda Ardern to ride in on a white charger and publicly lance Scott Morrison over his government's practice of deporting what she claims are "Australian criminals" back to New Zealand.
And perhaps also a time for her to allow media criticism to spread uncurbed by herself over Australia's supposed laxity in facing up to its climate change obligations.
But frankly, this week such issues really should not have been centre stage.
It was as though their meeting took place in a parallel universe where threats of global pandemics, multiple deaths and a potential international recession did not exist.
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Virtually all the New Zealand media coverage ahead of the two PMs' meeting was focused on the carefully seeded and highly corrosive deportation issue, which Ardern planned to front with Morrison.
The Australian PM made it clear he was not for turning when it came time for the two prime ministers to hold their joint press conference.
Ardern, facing an election on September 19, was clearly playing to a domestic constituency, not just that of Australia's citizens, when promoting her argument that the deportations were unfair.
Australia's national interest is different to ours, as Morrison underlined.
While Ardern was still flying high from being feted in Fiji by Frank Bainimarama, Morrison, flanked by Cabinet ministers, was telling Australians the "threat of the virus was very much upon us" and that Australia's government was triggering preparation for fever clinics, aged-care home lockdowns and increased medical stockpiles.
"We believe the risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us," he said.
There was much more besides.
Morrison was clearly caught out by his earlier cack-handed response to the bushfires.
With the coronavirus risk, he is being careful to drive a narrative that the Australian government is focused on keeping Australians safe and making sure his Cabinet ministers live up to that narrative.
Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson earlier gave a level-headed press conference where they indicated the steps they were taking to prepare for an outbreak of the coronavirus here.
While it was obvious the New Zealand Government had activated the pandemic plan, Ardern earlier stopped short of saying exactly what it had done apart from gearing up the public health sector to cope with an outbreak, and in Robertson's case the fiscal response that may occur if there is widespread economic fallout.
On Friday Health Minister David Clark finally stepped up the Government's response, publicly confirming the pandemic plan was in place, bolstering the health presence at international airports and putting in place further temporary travel restrictions, this time covering travellers arriving from Iran.
That move was in response not only to the spread of the infection in Iran, but news that a person from Iran who was in Auckland Hospital was carrying the virus.
There is an element of "chicken and egg" to the way Australia and New Zealand have been confronting this evolving health risk.
Ardern and Robertson have been careful to avoid creating more fear in the community than has been warranted to date and a panicked response.
The problem is that New Zealand and Australia effectively operate a common border. If Australia puts up more barriers at the border — which is under active consideration — that will have an impact here.
New Zealand initially followed Australia's lead on the coronavirus response — putting a similar travel ban in place and, like Australia, refusing to allow tertiary students to travel back from China to their respective countries to study there.
Clark confirmed the student ban would stay in place, rejecting universities' "trust us" blandishments that they could guarantee thousands of students could be safely isolated in New Zealand before returning to their studies.
The difference between the two prime ministers is not just one of tone. But also the intensity of their public responses.
The spread of Covid-19 virus is a far more existential threat to New Zealand than the deportation back here of various low-life criminals, gangsters and others.
A statement said the prime ministers discussed their countries' responses to the virus outbreak "and expressed appreciation for the co-ordinated way in which consular and other officials had worked to include Australians and New Zealanders in their respective evacuation arrangements from affected areas overseas".
It said both countries would share information on domestic developments and responses, and would also focus on combating the impact of the virus in "our Pacific neighbourhood".
But what a pity Ardern and Morrison did not emerge shoulder to shoulder and put this risk and their response centre stage where it belonged.