The Labour Party launched into justice sector reforms when it came into power in 2017 with three justice summits. Three reports landed by the end of 2019, each one declaring how broken the system is and what should be done, urgently, to fix it.
The Government then sat back for an extended period of tumbleweed-watching, according to the authors of two of those reports; the author of the third, chief victims adviser Kim McGregor, said diplomatically that she was being listened to, even if her recommendations remained largely unattended.
Fast-forward to Budget 2022, and suddenly there's hundreds of millions of dollars of new money for a new operating model to help victims, fostering partnership with Māori for Māori-led solutions, boosting legal aid, and supporting a new way of doing things in the district court.
Is the Government finally responding to the justice voices it spent millions to listen to, but who then went quiet after growing tired of being ignored? Why now, why this amount of money, and what difference will it make?
It's hard to know because Justice Minister Kris Faafoi continues to refuse interview requests from the Herald, and has barely fronted elsewhere.
It might have made sense when the Government had few justice runs on the board. Even its flagship policy of repealing the three-strikes law, which NZ First blocked last term, is yet to be completed almost two years into its second term.
It makes less sense now that the Government is under pressure in the law and order space, and when it looks like things are moving. Some of the justice initiatives are even described as the kind of transformational change that Jacinda Ardern's Government used to want to represent, but repeatedly failed to. See Kiwibuild, or Auckland light rail.
Faafoi did issue a press release about what Budget 2022 meant for legal aid. He even offered a time slot when he was available to be interviewed, and then declined a subsequent request from the Herald.
The impression it leaves is of a minister who isn't on top of his portfolio, or at least one who isn't interested in selling what the Government is doing.
He did offer a short interview to the Bay of Plenty Times, but when asked about any increase to fixed fees for legal aid lawyers, he said he wasn't sure; much legal aid work is covered by fixed fees.
The hourly rates are going up - by 12 per cent - for the first time since 2008, but this pales in comparison to wage growth over that period (31.8 per cent, according to StatsNZ).
It's not like Faafoi has never fronted on justice matters. He has held press conferences and given the odd interview to other media outlets when the Government has released new proposals, such as on hate speech and conversion therapy.
But his performances there muddied the waters, creating the impression he - and the Government, by extension - wasn't across the finer details. Hate speech proposals have since gone back to the drawing board.
How much Faafoi remains invested in the job has been an open question.
He is understood to have considered hanging up his MP hat at the last election so he could spend more time with his young family, despite being a rising star last term who picked up several portfolios as they were vacated by retiring or sacked ministers.
"Wasn't super keen to stay on" is how one source described it.
But stay he did, and he was given hefty portfolios including Immigration and Broadcasting, both of which are going through major reforms. The workload has led to his office taking on additional staff.
The Beehive is understood to still consider him a good minister rather than a liability, and it's a mystery why Faafoi - a former political reporter - seems so unwilling to do media interviews.
But the Government needs ministers to convincingly explain what it is doing, especially with election year looming and especially in contested areas such as justice and law and order.
With gang violence, drive-by shootings and ram raids hogging the headlines, the National Party has been gaining traction while barely lifting a finger. The playbook here is the cliche but effective: cry "soft on crime", repeat old policies like a specialist gang unit or stripping gang members of their freedom of association rights, and calling for Police Minister Poto Williams to be removed.
Along with the cost of living and inflation - which the Government has less control over - law and order is exactly the kind of issue that could sway some of the nearly half a million voters who didn't tick Labour in 2017 but did in 2020.
The Government is vulnerable here, and it knows it.
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis is happy to front, but while the sector has issues - especially around staff retention - it also has a success story in the prison population dropping by almost 30 per cent.
Some of the justice sector initiatives funded in Budget 2022 are not such an easy sell.
Te Ao Mārama, for example, aims to address the drivers of crime by using the type of innovative sentences that National has supported. Such drivers include poverty, social isolation, substance abuse and the never ending cycles of family violence, all of which are associated with gangs.
But it will take years, if it works well, to see any noticeable difference on the ground, so the appeal to the median voter is minimal unless the relevant ministers are effective salespeople.
Williams has been able to crow about the increase to police numbers and resources, but her comments have also led to headlines about "gendered language", and who can sit at the same table as her at Parliament's cafe.
Ardern is expected to reshuffle her Cabinet cards shortly, and ministers will likely keep their positions through to election day. She will want a law and order team who are more than able to hold their own through the campaign.
It seems likely she will shift the Police portfolio; she is already avoiding the question when asked whether Williams will retain it.
Ardern may also wish to lighten Faafoi's workload.
Why Faafoi refuses interviews about what's finally happening in the justice sector is unclear.
But if his heart is no longer in it, he should make room for someone willing to front, sell, or even defend what the Government is doing.