Setting targets can be a fools' game, as Labour learned the hard way when it failed to hit the bullseye with the KiwiBuild programme.
That was an extreme example of a target going awry, but it appears to have made Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern somewhat target-averse.
On KiwiBuild she dropped the short-term targets after it became abundantly clear the Government building programme would fall woefully short of them.
She described those "interim" targets as "unhelpful". Translate: too hard and politically embarrassing.
Then came the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry's recommendation for the Government to set a target of a 20 per cent reduction in suicides by 2030.
The Government delivered its response to that inquiry the day before the Budget.
In the Budget it delivered the money to back it up - $1.9 billion worth of it, including a rollout of free access to mental health care for low to moderate sufferers.
Few could bicker about that.
Labour was delivering on one of its main campaign platforms, it was for something that impacted all groups of society, and an area in which even National had conceded it had let things slide.
One of the few recommendations the Government did not agree to was setting a target for suicide reduction.
That was the subject of some debate in Cabinet, which eventually opted to rule it out.
Before the election, Health Minister David Clark had spoken in favour of a target, and the Mental Health Commission also called for one.
The reasons the Government gave for ruling it out included the rather weak reason that while many countries that did set targets had seen a reduction in suicide rates, there had also been "meaningful reductions" in countries without targets.
It worried that a target would somehow mean that suicides outside that target would somehow be seen as "acceptable".
There were also concerns it would lead to deliberately inaccurate reporting of deaths by suicide – presumably the risk authorities would not report a death as a suicide because of the target.
That is such an appalling thought that it borders on unbelievable.
That is a load of excuses.
But the primary reason given by Ardern was that the only acceptable target was zero.
She is right about that – but that is not necessarily an excuse to avoid targets.
Targets should not be treated as the end goal, but rather the bare minimum.
Nobody expects William Tell-like precision, although it is preferable to at least come within cooee of the apple.
The end goal should be to do better than the target. And no politician should use a fear of failing to hit the target as an excuse not to set them.
One of the reasons Ardern's decision to rule out a target for suicide reduction was striking was because it was in contrast to her decision to set targets for child poverty.
For years Ardern criticised the National Government for refusing to set targets to reduce child poverty. Former Prime Minister John Key's reasoning was that it was complicated.
Translate: too hard and potentially politically embarrassing.
It is notable he listed not being able to do more on child poverty as one of his regrets after leaving office.
Ardern has since passed a law requiring a Government to set targets for reducing child poverty against a range of measurements – and to report on progress every Budget. Her own target is to halve child poverty.
The same reasoning could be applied to child poverty as to suicide: the only acceptable target is zero.
Setting targets is a way to ensure a Government can be held to account and that the money allocated has the impact needed.
Targets help ensure that where something is not working as intended, it is reassessed and changed or scrapped rather than allowed to rumble on to little effect.
The former National Government did set targets across a range of areas from immunisation rates to early childhood education and reported on progress regularly and clearly.
Sometimes they fell short, sometimes they didn't.
Those were largely devised by then Finance Minister Sir Bill English, who saw them as a useful tool for focusing the minds of ministers and public servants on the priorities.
For the public, they were also a useful tool to hold the Government to account.
Labour has since scrapped them.
That was partly because it believed other areas were neglected because of tunnel vision on the targets. One of those "other areas" was mental health itself.
It promised to set its own targets instead, although those remain in short supply - a bit like KiwiBuild homes.