Is this what Bill English really meant when he said a while back that the Government was going to take the "sharp edges" off the recession for some people?

A Minister of Finance who lectures all and sundry about tightening their belts while taxpayers are paying off the mortgage on his private home in Wellington is - to put it mildly - not a terribly good look.

English is too smart a politician not to be cognisant of the awful impression this leaves. He pulled together a number of defences of the "I'm costing no more than anyone else" variety. But none of them will wash with the wider public which will simply see someone claiming an allowance he does not need while securing a major asset at their expense.

English knows that. Which is why he has played a dead bat to questions on how his accepting ministerial accommodation allowances squares with his message of fiscal restraint.

English also knows his embarrassment will be fleeting. You will not hear politicians from other political parties criticising him because much the same thing will be going on within their own ranks. They will simply look the other way. No one is going to risk retaliation.

The cone of silence will effectively choke the story from going much further. The parliamentary old boys (and girls) club will see to that, though the Prime Minister's declaring it "could" be time to look at the rules on allowances may help stem any public backlash.

The question is whether his failure to set an example will render English's sermons on restraint null and void in terms of the impact he is seeking. English, though, is not of a mood to be worried by that or other criticism right now. His and other ministers' utter single-mindedness of purpose was evident at the weekend's National Party conference. They are like bees drunk on pollen. In their case, the tipple is a commodity called power.

National intends major reform across what English called a "broad front". He even went as far as saying a capital gains tax would be canvassed as part of the current review of the overall tax system. That is daring stuff.

His theme was reinforced by Justice Minister Simon Power, who warned of the dangers of governments losing momentum. In short: full steam ahead.

The message was John Key's Administration is not going to become bogged down by bureaucratic inertia. To paraphrase Power, rather than having action plans, ministers want action.

Much of this "let's just do it" approach is evident in yesterday's initiatives targeted at reducing youth unemployment, which has quadrupled since the start of the recession.

Driven out of the Prime Minister's office, the $152 million package was pulled together in just eight weeks.

The puzzle is why Key did not say he was bringing together the package when he came under fire from Labour for not doing enough to help the recently unemployed. The danger is the package will be viewed as an ad hoc response.

Key, however, has kept faith with his "rolling maul" strategy which is seeing new job-saving or job-producing programmes being staggered through the year rather than everything being released in a "big bang" announcement.

The timing was also dictated by the need for something substantial and sobering to come out of the conference. National believes the rolling maul strategy is working for it politically. With last night's One News-Colmar Brunton poll giving it a 35-point lead over Labour, who can argue with that?