We are talking past each other at the moment. We being those defending the Government's Covid response and those picking at it.
Sir Brian Roche touched on it last week when he told Newstalk ZB, "We are the envy of the world. We seem to want to beat ourselves up for every infringement, and as a citizen I find that surprising."
Putting aside the unsurprising fact that he's defending a government effort he's part of, he did voice what many were thinking which is roughly that life in NZ is good right now, so why all the nitpicking of the Government's Covid response?
As someone who very much falls into the category of nitpickers, here's why.
Yes, life is good in NZ right now. Ignoring the fact that Auckland's done two-and-a-half weeks in a level 3 rāhui, most of the time we can travel, holiday, party, marry, bury and live without any restrictions. There are plenty of places around the world that's not possible.
And the economy is doing much better than expected. We retired the "d" word a long time ago and we're now (only) forecasting a recession.
We must all know by now that we are living in a pre-election twilight zone. This good life can't go on. It's not sustainable.
Our economy feels strong because it's hyped up on government sugar money. Wage subsidies are keeping people in jobs that will not exist shortly, and that's keeping businesses propped up when they are truthfully already dead on two crutches and an intravenous drip. At some point, post-election, those government subsidies will stop and maybe never come back.
We're Covid free(ish) because we've now twice detonated the nuclear option of lockdowns. That can't continue. Talk to Aucklanders about the mental fatigue of being in a second lockdown, talk to hospo businesses across the country about the $4 a day some are making even in (relatively) low level 2 restrictions. Look at the middle-finger of non-compliance so many Aucklanders have given the rules in the last 2.5 weeks. Lockdowns can't be our default response. They are too expensive, too hard on people and they will lose their efficacy as compliance reduces. So, what do we do then? How do we keep covid at bay when we can't use our lockdown weapon?
Despite what you're told, our government's response is not the best in the world. Taiwan is the true poster child of this pandemic. They've avoided any lockdowns at all, and yet only suffered 7 deaths and fewer than 500 cases in a country five times bigger than New Zealand. Taiwan's economy is forecast to grow by nearly 2 per cent this year.
Hence the nitpicking.
We can do better than we are. If this is a "war" against a "tricky virus" we can't take our fingers off the triggers just because the bombing's briefly stopped. This thing is coming back, and our government response has holes all over its defences.
Five months in, we're still (we discover again this week) not testing all returning Kiwis twice in managed isolation. The Health Ministry is still ignoring Cabinet orders. We still haven't increased ICU capacity by even a single bed so that - if Covid comes back in a bad way - we can save people's lives.
The biggest mistake we'd make right now is thinking we're through the worst of it, we've got the best response in the world and life will always be this calm in NZ. There's a chance it won't be. This calm has been bought by government stimulus and low-risk decisions. It's a deliberate strategy ahead of the election. No governing party in its right mind would take risks and let the economy take the coming hit before voters go to the polls.
But Labour, especially Finance Minister Grant Robertson, will know that at some point the money's got to stop and the risks have got to start, and that will likely happen in the months post election.
The rest of us can either wise up tout de suite and question the Government to make sure it gets its response as right as possible. Or we can be lulled into the pre-election fairy tale that the good life will continue unabated.
• Heather du Plessis-Allan host Drive on Newstalk ZB, weekdays, 4pm-7pm