The Prime Minister has not been on the programme this morning, and there is a reason for that.
She is running for the hills.
She no longer wants to be on this programme each week. The somewhat tragic conclusion that is drawn is the questions she gets, the demand for a level of accountability, is a little bit tough.
Officially, her office will tell you they are re-arranging the media schedule this year and are maintaining the same number of interviews. This appears not to be true.
By way of background, this has been coming for most of the year. They rang us and told us this a month ago. But various developments, mainly Covid related, made an appearance here a necessity.
At the time we got the call, and the line about re-arranging, we obviously asked who was replacing us. We are still waiting for a reply despite asking, re-asking, and re-asking again. The reason we're still waiting is no one is replacing us. They know it, we know it, they are just over being held to account.
Without being too unkind to some of the other players in this market, the reality is the Prime Minister enjoys a more cordial and compliant relationship. The questions are more softball. She favours a more benign pitch, where the delivery can be dispatched to the boundary more readily without the chance of an appeal.
To be honest, I'm pleased. The management here, not quite as much. They argue accountability is important, and they're right. But what I argue is the Prime Minister is a lightweight at answering tough questions. The number of times she's fronted on this programme with no knowledge around the questions I'm asking is frightening.
Reports I read, she hadn't. The time I asked whether they're replacing the Tauranga City Council, she replied they didn't do such things. Clearly, not having the slightest clue, in a month or so, they were going to do exactly that.
Those occasions are too many to be comfortable.
And then, your reaction. The two most often used lines post interview are "what was the point of that?" And "I don't know why you bother."
The reality is, too often it's just noise. It's waffle. It's stalling. It's filling. It's obfuscation.
It's a tricky scenario, she should be up for it. Any Prime Minister should be up for it. As a publicly elected official you are asked to be held to account. So, it stands to reason you, at least, put yourself up, even if you don't enjoy it or at times struggle with the complexity or detail of the question line.
It speaks to a lack of backbone that she would want to bail and run. It also speaks to an increasingly apparent trait; they don't handle pressure well. Last week was a very good display of that.
They say she's willing to front on an issue-by-issue basis, so she isn't gone forever.
As for the weekly bit, I lose no sleep. I'm just a bit disappointed she isn't a more robust operator, or keener to defend her corner.
After all, it's our country she's running.