Winning public trust and confidence is of vital importance when a government wants to guide its citizenry toward a hard-to-attain goal, whether it's sustainability, full vaccination or "vision zero" deaths on our roads.
Holding onto that trust is difficult. It's the metaphorical greasy pole, and one which the Morrison government is now experiencing after the early rush of support for its effectiveness in Covid controls has over time dissolved into bickering and finger-pointing.
The Australian public has a natural distrust of governments and their intentions; it's been exposed to far too many pink insulation batts-type schemes and far too much provincial pork barrelling over the years not to do so.
We know, too, there are always times when governments stuff it up; mistakes, more often resulting from a decision borne of the best of intentions or information available at the time, are always made.
This is when politics usually rears its ugly head. A calculation has to be made about the political cost of admitting the mistake and whether it can be somehow defrayed or blame-shared.
Such has occurred with the February-March 2020 speed camera stuff-up, when for 16 whole days, the Gatso fixed cameras kept taking pictures of errant speeding drivers and pushing them into the ACT system, while the software receiving them was automatically punching out tickets bearing a non-matching date.
Many drivers received their infringements no doubt simply paid up in the knowledge they were "done", plain and simple.
Others peeped online into the network - because the photos are available for viewing - and identified the discrepancy. Some even rang Access Canberra, told them about the problem, and asked what was going on.
It is at crucial points like this where confidence in government either rises or falls, often on the decision of a senior bureaucrat.
In this case, the decision to push on in the full knowledge that an error had occurred then triggered a slow downward spiral, compounded along the way by a spectacular succession of poor decisions.
The government's case was eventually lost. But tempering that embarrassment of loss was the potential for redemption.
In the test case which followed in the ACT Magistrates Court, one man with no legal training took a lone stand against what he considered a primary injustice.
In response, the government's solicitor attempted to effectively quash the case by using legislation which would change the evidence. Fortunately, the magistrate disagreed with this course of action.
The government's case was eventually lost. But tempering that embarrassment of loss was the potential for redemption. A window of opportunity emerged; a fleeting, precious period when, by acting decisively and apologetically, a government could win back public confidence and turn what was a tactical loss into a strategic gain.
An admission would have carried a penalty in cost and resources. Thousands of dollars in fines would have to be refunded, and demerit points handed back.
That window has all but closed. What remains is yet more public suspicion about speed cameras and revenue raising.
The NRMA was absolutely correct in its assessment: the public deserves to have complete confidence in the validity and accuracy of the broad spread of tools used by police and government to keep our roads safe, including speed cameras.
Refusing to admit errors even when tested by the courts only risks eroding that all-important trust in the eyes of the public.