If an Industry Transformation Plan is published and nobody reports it, did it really happen?
That must be what Housing and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa wondered when she published the ITP for the building industry on January 26.
Even using the age-old trick of trying to drive news coverage for another dull government report on a slow Sunday afternoon didn't work this time.
It sank almost without trace.
ITPs are in train for four key areas: agricultural technology, food and beverages, digital technology, and forestry and wood. The draft agri-tech plan was announced last July and did a little better for column inches of coverage but has been missing in action since.
All have seemed like the kind of gum-flapping do-gooding that business has come to expect from governments. All talk, no action, file and forget.
Maybe that is about to change.
Many have been quick to observe that the Covid-19 crisis and response has opened the door to proactive government intervention in the economy on a scale not seen for nearly 40 years.
That doesn't mean policymakers are reaching back for the command economy approach taken in the dying days of the Muldoon government.
Rather, they have a mandate to act. Businesses, trade unions, and people who either have jobs or want them, are looking to the government with fresh hope and urgency as the economic challenges created by the global pandemic become clearer.
Their expectations are only likely to rise. One of the most surprising aspects of the UMR polling leaked this week, and showing another plunge in support for the National Party, is that the population is evenly split on whether the worst is behind us or still to come.
Some 51 per cent think March was as bad as it will get, whereas 49 per cent are more pessimistic about coming months.
March is likely to have been the toughest month for business owners, in the sense that so many had no cashflow. However, most in that position had the cushion of the wage subsidy scheme.
In coming weeks and months, a huge number of those businesses will have to restructure as they return to trading or realise their time is up. Only then will the true impact on unemployment be visible. For the labour market, the worst is undoubtedly still to come.
With that in mind, the government is frantically trying to switch gear from immediate triage responses to the economy-wide shock of lockdown to focusing on what industries it might support to soak up the labour pool that will emerge.
Of course, triage keeps getting in the way.
Thursday's urgently passed tax legislation contained the surprise inclusion of a previously unannounced scheme to make the tax department an interest-free lender to small and medium-sized businesses.
Just days earlier, ministers had been holding the line that wage subsidies were as good as it was going to get for SMEs.
There is no proof for it, but the tax department lending move seemed rushed, perhaps even an urgent reaction to the howls of pain at Tuesday's pandemic select committee from small business.
Other unscientific measures have also been suggesting that SME owners have been starting to lose it en masse.
Among these: the emergence of deep strain of angry and conspiratorial social media commentary on the usually boring LinkedIn platform where businesspeople typically share 'strategic learnings' while 'going forward'.
In recent days, that's changed radically. Someone on LinkedIn even used the word 'sheeple' this week: an expression normally reserved for the hard left and right wingers of the Twittersphere.
If I were a minister, that would certainly be my trigger.
Elsewhere, policy development is moving at speed on how and whether to extend some version of the wage subsidy – perhaps with an obligation and opportunities to retrain – to the huge number of semi-skilled workers who will be tipped out of the tourism and events sectors in coming months.
While many tourist operators will try to hibernate until the borders open and others will reorient to New Zealand travellers, there is no escaping that international tourism accounted for one-fifth of all export receipts and it's not coming back in a hurry.
Many of those workers will need something else to do.
That means that dusting off and energising work that was already underway, such as the Industry Transformation Plans, becomes a matter of urgency. There is probably good politics in rebranding the ITPs as if they're new initiatives to spark the economy into life post-Covid rather than the stolid outputs of an army of working groups and myriad consultants' reports.
Among Labour Cabinet ministers, the responsibility for revving up this activity will be with Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford, David Parker, and Grant Robertson, with assistance from primary sector ministers Damien O'Connor and Stuart Nash.
Among that group are ministers with a tendency for "too much hui, not enough dooey".
However, there is one activist minister who will see this new environment as just the unleashed moment he was waiting for.
NZ First's Shane Jones has always been in more of a hurry than any other minister in this government. Fear of political oblivion will do that for a chap.
By pursuing many schemes without enough collegial support, dishing out many flamboyant insults, and distributing Provincial Growth Fund money in a way that too often looked like vote-buying, Jones had managed to tarnish his reputation badly enough to almost be sidelined.
The current environment is a chance for a reset, and he knows it.
His leader, Winston Peters, talks up 'New Zealand-made' manufacturing and a government-controlled national airline that serves the provinces whether it likes it or not.
These are old NZ First themes and, in normal times, they might not sound anything more than all too familiar.
But with supply chains shortened by Covid's disruption to globalisation and borders closed so that no one can get out of the country, appeals to nationalism suddenly have new political potency.
Jones's battleground will also be his last opportunity in this parliamentary term to make progress on his cherished goal of a state-backed leg-up for the domestic wood processing industry.
His informally announced idea, a few weeks back, to tax log exporters for every log they sent over a New Zealand wharf sank like a stone.
This time around, expect him to box smarter, and in front of a friendlier crowd.