With three of his ministers bound for the High Court and the same-sex marriage debate raging on, Malcolm Turnbull was struggling for clear air.
It was time for the company of some familiar faces, to turn over a new page.
Or better yet, an enormous stockpile of freshly-made paper in Tumut to try and rewrite the script.
So on came the hard hat, headset and high vis as he headed off for a tour of paper giant Anthony Pratt’s mill in southern NSW.
The location was not lost on the prime minister as he stepped out of the car and into the town where his father was born in 1926.
As the eligibility of his cabinet colleagues dominated headlines across the country, it was a fact Mr Turnbull returned to several times throughout the day.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about people having citizenship by descent, so on that basis I’m a citizen of Tumut by descent. I hope you won’t disown me,” he told those attending a lunch on site.
Taking a turn around the mill, Mr Turnbull was surprised to learn how few workers were required at any one time to keep the manufacturing plant afloat.
He and Mr Pratt talked shop as they trotted over boardwalks high above the ground and snaked through a series of throbbingly loud factory floors, as a throng of photographers followed their every move.
“Anthony, we are so proud, all of us here, of what your family has achieved. It is a remarkable Australian success story,” Mr Turnbull later proclaimed as he dined with the Pratts.
The PM’s extraordinary outburst at Bill Shorten – whom he labelled a parasite and social-climbing sycophant for sipping champagne with billionaires including the Pratts – must have seemed a distant memory.
“You are great Australians, making a great commitment to our great nation,” Mr Turnbull told the family.
Mr Pratt on Wednesday announced a $2 billion plan to create thousands of manufacturing jobs over 10 years.
He made the same pledge to Donald Trump in New York three months ago, which the prime minister was also in town to see.
A $100 million upgrade to the Tumut mill would be the first in a series of investments in Visy’s Australian operations, creating some 13,000 permanent jobs plus another 14,000 construction jobs.
The prime minister gave a long and wide-ranging press conference on the virtues of jobs and investment, Australia’s involvement in global wars and the simmering citizenship crisis.
But there was one question he would not go near – just why was he in town?
“There’s no federal funding in this announcement today, so what are you doing here? Is this to assure voters that you’re not distracted?” he was asked by a reporter.
“Thanks for the editorial,” Mr Turnbull fired back. “Do you have any other questions?”