It has not been a good week for coalition optics.
The Labour-led Government was faced with a shambolic prelude to the first debate on abortion law reform, courtesy of a New Zealand First ambush of such significance that Winston Peters owes Jacinda Ardern an apology.
And Labour had to grin and bear the continued ridicule of a Green Party minister in Parliament over her own foolishness in dealing with her senior Labour minister.
Associate Transport minister Julie Anne Genter is putting up the fight of her life to prevent the release of an important official letter she signed as a minister of a party that preaches transparency but doesn't practise it when it really counts.
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The one bright spot for the Greens this week is that the party can take credit for the abortion law bill actually making into Parliament.
Had it not launched its campaign five years ago to update the laws, it would never have been a priority for the more risk-averse Labour Party.
So risk-averse has Labour been on polarising social issues that last term it asked MPs to remove contentious private members' bills from the ballot for fear they might be a distraction in election year.
Modernising the abortion laws was a classic Green issue because it was about fixing the theory rather than the outcome.
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Women and doctors have been quietly and successfully circumventing the restrictive intentions of the 1977 abortion laws for decades and, as a consequence, there is legal abortion on demand.
It was a bad law but it worked in practice and there were some fears that the Greens' campaign to fix something that wasn't all that broken might put it at risk. After Thursday's overwhelming vote, it appears the risk was worth it.
Ardern was questioned about the abortion law reform on the hustings as Labour leader only because of the Green Party's policy. Like her predecessor Andrew Little, she pledged support, which led to the bill going before the House.
It has been a careful and deliberate process overseen by Little as Justice Minister.
By the time the bill was revealed on Monday, the most note-worthy element was that it provides for abortion on demand (without the need for two doctors) up to 20 weeks of gestation, rather than 22 weeks.
Both gestation limits had been canvassed as options in model C of the Law Commission's report on abortion and it was considered that New Zealand First was behind the earlier date being in the bill.
Then came the bombshell on Tuesday - that New Zealand First would be pushing for a public referendum on the bill.
What happened on Tuesday was initially described as democracy in action - the right of an MP to put up an amendment in committee stages – Darroch Ball being the New Zealand First MP who instigated the referendum move at caucus.
But it turned there was a lot more to it that neither New Zealand First nor Labour revealed on the day and only became apparent on Thursday, the day the bill was debated.
It was not just one MP giving notice of his intention to exercise his right in the committee stage but the caucus taking a party policy position at not so much at the 11th hour but at the 12th hour.
The party took its position after the bill had gone through cabinet (including four New Zealand First cabinet ministers) and been released.
The MPs as a party will support the bill at first and second readings then put an amendment in committee stages for the bill to take effect only if it is triggered by a Yes vote in a referendum.
The caucus has not decided what it will to do if, as expected, the referendum fails to fly.
But who wouldn't like to see New Zealand First's blokes try to instruct Tracey Martin that she must oppose the bill.
It is not like the euthanasia bill before the House, in which New Zealand First also has a referendum plan.
That intent was signalled well in advance, the caucus has already decided that if the referendum does not fly it will withdraw its support, and that support may well be pivotal to whether the bill passes.
If it took the same position on an abortion referendum, it would almost certainly make no difference to the final outcome of the bill, so strong is support for the bill. On current support, it would take 36 MPs to change their positions for the bill to fail.
However, that is beside the point. This shambles is not about policy, it is about trust. Like ministers and their departments, coalition partners are supposed to operate on a "no surprises basis".
Those who argue the New Zealand First actions this week are part of a deliberate strategy by Peters to flex his muscle before next year's election are mistaken.
For a start, it is not an issue on which the party would win net support - quite the opposite.
It is a failure of leadership by Peters. He failed to ram home to his colleagues in the caucus meeting the importance of acting in good faith in the coalition relationship.
He may be a lion outside the caucus but many reports over the years suggest he is a lamb inside it, with a reluctance to confront his own MPs when required.
Peters also failed to explain why the abortion bill is not in the same league as the euthanasia bill.
Legalising euthanasia for the terminally ill is a massive departure from what happens now. There are grounds for arguing that such a major shift in policy could be put to a referendum.
The abortion issue is different. The bill is not about whether women should have access to abortion but how they get that access. It is not a first-principles debate.
The bill represents a change to current practices that would not alter the fact that women in New Zealand, who already have ready access to lawful abortion, will continue to have ready access to lawful abortion.
If Peters had wanted the 1977 abortion first-principles debate all over again, and the subject of a referendum, he should have campaigned on it in 2017.
Tracey Martin has no need to feel humiliated because she handled the ambush by her own backbench colleagues as well as could be expected. She has integrity and can be trusted as Little said yesterday on RNZ.
The same cannot be said of her colleagues.