Judith Collins has launched an unmistakable run for the prime ministership right off the bat.
Three days after her election as National leader, Collins has opened a distinct policy wedge with Labour by announcing her party plans a massive $31 billion transport infrastructure spend-up over a decade, with a major focus on unlocking what is known as the "golden triangle" between Whangārei, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga through a four-lane expressway.
The transport policy pronouncements have provided a springboard for the Papakura MP to overcome electoral distaste for National's leadership rumbles and put the party back into contention for the 2020 election.
Collins wants the prime ministership and will differentiate herself from incumbent Jacinda Ardern by claiming she is better positioned to get things done to revitalise the economy in a post-Covid-19 environment.
There is a certain degree of bombast when it comes to Collins. But her experience shows and she has demonstrated an ability to inject momentum and unite a caucus made moribund by the psychological impact of seeing their support disappear as Ardern became ascendant during the height of the crisis.
Ardern still has that ascendancy, but at some stage she will have to step aside from her prime ministerial duties and engage.
Don't buy the usual waffle about this being the "phony campaign". National has to redo all its election campaign collateral — billboards and advertising — to accommodate its third leader within two months. The big bang launch still lies ahead.
But yesterday's announcements were concrete. They were an important policy differentiator; not only a signal that the private sector will have a major role to play in a National-led Government, but that there will also be more user-pays with the introduction of more toll roads.
Labour has entertained a much larger role for the State in the post-Covid recovery phase and beyond. Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford is beavering away on that and Labour can be expected to unveil its vision for an empowered State during the campaign proper.
National did announce economic policy earlier in the year. But much of it was broad philosophy and sloganeering. It had no cut-through.
The transport policy has been pumped up as transforming four cities to become one "economic powerhouse".
This is not grandiose.
The fact is that others have done similar things: the Danes and Swedes built the Oresund Bridge between Denmark's capital Copenhagen and Malmo in Sweden to create an economic region of 4.3 million inhabitants off the back of that impressive infrastructure.
There is strong economic underpinning for this strategy.
It is the first step towards Greater Auckland becoming a true international city region within Australasia. The policy would also have been unveiled by Todd Muller if he had still been National's leader — but to the victor, the spoils.
The sheer dollars involved might seem out of the park. But they line up with the work done by the Infrastructure Commission and others.
Collins will have to make doubly sure that as she steps up the political momentum by announcing such eye-wateringly large projects, she takes Aucklanders with her.
The dollars are not the only defining feature.
There is an unmistakable focus on user-pays through proposals to toll expressways.
Labour's regional fuels tax will be cut. The NZTA will be given powers to borrow more on its own account. The RMA faces a death knell — though it is fair to say that is also within Labour's scope. It would be replaced with an Environment Standards Act and an Urban Planning and Development Act.
In another differentiator, Collins has stressed Auckland's proposed light rail project will be abandoned and probably the Skypath across the Waitematā Harbour.
The light rail project was one of Transport Minister Twyford's pets. Ardern also advocated for it at the 2017 election.
There are smart politics at play here.
Around the Coalition Cabinet table, NZ First did not support the light rail project, saying it was too expensive.
Collins and Winston Peters would, however, appear to have common ground, given National's support for a rail link between Auckland Airport and Puhinui instead, then on to Ōnehunga at a later stage.
The $31b is huge but it is fundable if the Covid-19 recovery fund is utilised and through more borrowing.
Philosophically, the transport projects policy is unmistakably roads heavy — not too far distant from the Roads of National Significance projects a prior National Government launched after the 2008 election to kick-start the NZ economy.
But this time round there is more strategic intent — to build that economic powerhouse and also lift investment in other transport infrastructure around the country.
Other signature moves include National's plan to mothball payments to the NZ Super Fund.
Collins is polarising. But she has injected more energy into National than Muller was capable of.
He proved to be just one leg of an unstable leadership stool with Amy Adams and Nikki Kaye, which fell the way of all unbalanced stools.
Collins does not believe in shared leadership. She has the reins and is riding hard.