You can just about imagine the farcical scenes unfolding in the Cabinet room.

The leader looks puzzled. “What can we give them this week?”

“Well, we can’t give them anything. There are too many cases.”

“What about walks on the beach?”

“Nah, they can do that anyway.”

“Cafe visits?”

“Too risky,” comes a voice from the head of the table.

“I know,” shouts the enthusiastic newcomer. “Picnics at the park.”

“Perfect,” says the leader.

It was promoted as the big reveal. The Prime Minister’s Monday afternoon press conference was finally going to share the Government’s road map out of Covid.

For someone so practised in the arts of public relations, it was an abject failure. In fact it was worse than that. It was farcical and disrespectful to New Zealanders and Aucklanders in particular.

Even the usually fawning media were unimpressed. TVNZ’s political editor put her usual adoration for the PM aside and used the words “wishy washy”.

There is a fine line between spin and deception. When we listened to the so-called “plan”, it was clear we were listening to the latter. Because what we really heard is that we don’t have a plan.

The long-winded rant from the Beehive which we have become so used to, didn’t need to take that long this time. If level 3 is level 4 with takeaways, then we Aucklanders now have level 3 with picnics and childcare.

We heard that we are not dealing with a long tail but a tentacle. What is that supposed to mean?

And then in the post-press conference comments we hear the utterance, yet again, of those words. “Everything we have done in managing this pandemic is world leading.”

World leading? Our vaccination rate is not world leading. Not even close. We were too slow in getting under way and our execution has been confused and slow. We are one of the few countries still using the hard handed approach of lockdowns to contain the virus.

That’s not world leading.

Our MIQ operation has not been world leading. We have tens of thousands of New Zealanders stranded overseas and unable to return home because of a lack of clear planning, execution and decision making. Has our border management been world leading? I don’t think so. ICU capacity increase? Ahhh … let’s not go there.

World leading? When governments borrow tens of billions of dollars in an 18-month period, you expect to see something for it. Hospitals, schools, roads and bridges come to mind. Where has the money gone? World leading?

For a country with undeniable advantages when it comes to managing a global pandemic, such as our geographic isolation, very low population density and being surrounded by oceans, I suggest that our response has been far from world leading. In fact it’s been quite inadequate.