The photo of the two Opposition spokesmen for finance looked like something out of a flash central city bank's brochure.
Dressed in their you-can-trust-us-with-your-money suits, it felt like Grant Robertson and James Shaw belonged on the front of the Herald's business section, which was exactly where they were.
It was Friday last week and they were announcing their joint Budget Responsibility Rules, which means they plan to be less Robin Hood and more Ruth Richardson with taxpayer money.
Since the announcement, the conversation has predictably been about how wise or unwise Labour is to tie itself so tightly to the Greens, with the faint, years-old smell of marijuana and Jeanette Fitzsimons' compost patch still hanging about it.

But it isn't Labour that should be worried about wisdom of the union. It's the Greens.
By hooking up with the Labour Party, the Green Party has lost any leverage it might have had once coalition talks start.

Bear with me, because at this point we depart into fantasy land and, more specifically, Winston Peters' fantasy land.

The word for years now has been that the NZ First leader is determined to add "Prime Minister" to his long list of career achievements.


He has been Treasurer, Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. The only job missing is the one that will put him in the history books as the country's first Maori PM.

Even though National leader Bill English and Labour leader Andrew Little have ruled it out, I'd put my money on Little being the most likely of the two to concede to job-sharing, such is Labour's desperation to get back around the cabinet table.
Which brings us to how this affects the Greens.

Peters is said to hate the idea of working with the Greens, but going by recent poll results there is no way to stitch together a left-wing coalition without them.

A poll in the last week had Labour at 30 per cent, NZ First at 8 per cent and the Greens on 11 per cent. That brings the total to 49 per cent, enough to govern together, but not enough without all three.

So the elegant solution - for Peters at least - is to insist any ministerial portfolios the Greens get are limited to being outside cabinet. Most of us won't see the distinction there, but the Greens will.

It means they're in the brochure, but they're not allowed into the boardroom meetings.
It would be unbearable for the Greens, who have played the jilted bride to Labour too many times.

And quite frankly, they deserve a go at helping to run the country. We have given more responsibility to Act, even though one of its former MPs stole a dead baby's identity.
If the Greens were smart they would not have become a running mate for Labour. They should have kept the option open of coalescing with National.

Sure, their core supporters probably wouldn't stomach the Greens propping up a fourth-term Government with waning popularity - and that is a massive risk to take - but they could have pointed to their 2009 Memorandum of Understanding with the Nats as evidence the world didn't end.


They could have slowly convinced their supporters with three years of policy gains.
They could have done the country a favour by being a second kingmaker to balance out the demands of Peters, who will now probably get to choose who governs.

At the very least, they could have used the threat of defecting to National as leverage against Labour, whose approach to the Greens in coalition talks past has been "treat them mean, keep them keen".

But the Greens can't do anything to help themselves this election because they have joined Labour in the campaign to "change the Government".

They're caught in the Labour Party's boxer's clinch.
So ask yourself, who is benefiting from that photograph the most?