There was a packed house at the Millenium Hotel in Auckland for the Prime Minister's pre-Budget speech to Business NZ today.
Perhaps it was curiosity about what's billed as an historic "well being" Budget?
Perhaps it was the star-power of a PM freshly returned from another successful turn on the world stage?
In what must have been the biggest of these style events for many years, business leaders turned out en mass to hear Jacinda Ardern articulate her vision for the economy.
But while the event was crowded there was still space for an elephant in the room.
Ardern made a point of acknowledging the "elephant in the room" in her first post-election speech to a business crowd.
That elephant was the business confidence surveys, she said in February 2018.
Back then she reassured her audience and committed to working through concerns to build a better relationship.
She seemed genuine and presumably hoped that it would improve.
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But it hasn't.
And so today the gloomy pachyderm sat quietly in the corner, as the PM addressed undeniably important issues such as homelessness and family violence.
"Nobody wants to live in a country where, despite a strong economy, families are homeless, where our environment is being rapidly degraded and people with mental health issues do not receive the support they need, and where we have shocking levels of family violence and child poverty," Ardern told the crowd.
Where the economy, and the current slow down in GDP growth was addressed, the blame was pointed squarely off-shore.
"The tariff war between the US and China has flared up again," she said. "The US economy is also showing signs of slowing. And uncertainty in Europe due in large part to Brexit is ongoing adding further to the global economic headwinds we face."
These things are true but, if the strong export returns and record stock market levels are to be believed, they are yet to have had a significant impact on the local economy.
The slowdown this winter is domestically led and business confidence seems to be a big driver.
There were no pre-Budget announcements today. Business owners looking for specifics and detailed policies addressing immediate skills shortages and transport woes were left disappointed.
This wasn't a speech that aimed at reassure business people, it was a speech that aimed to sell them on a new way of doing things.
It tugged it the heart strings and in doing so controlled the tone of the event.
It also undercut the ability of business people to raise their specific concerns at, what was after-all, their event.
Even the Q&A from the floor suited the PM perfectly.
The first question was from the chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation who asked about plans to address rates of youth depression.
The Prime Minister answered it perfectly.
How do you follow that with a question about profits being squeezed by South Auckland road congestion?
Or the red-tape around getting migrant workers to do your tiling work?
The answer is you can't.
The normally boisterous crowd of employers and executives was silenced so completely that you could hear the elephant's heart beating.
Two further questions followed, one around youth unemployment, the other around health spending. And that was it.
As a warm up for the well being Budget next week the PM hinted at a broad and bold vision for a fairer and more inclusive country.
It may resonate well with the wider public and certainly will with Labour's base.
But while this was a speech for Business NZ it wasn't really a speech for business.
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