Tony Abbott came to Sri Lanka to praise President Mahinda Rajapakse, not to bury him under the weight of human rights abuse allegations that completely dominated this Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
"We are here to praise as much as judge," he told the forum's opening meeting, lauding the ending of Sri Lanka's civil war, and the development in the country since.
For his fealty, he was rewarded. Sri Lanka has vowed to further help Abbott with his number one domestic priority, "stopping the boats" of asylum seekers looking to come to Australia.
The countries' existing co-operation has been extended, with Australia giving Sri Lanka two patrol boats, so that asylum seekers might be intercepted before they leave Sri Lankan waters.
(The inconvenient truth that navy sailors have been arrested and charged with running the biggest people-smuggling ring in the country is being, publicly at least, played down).
Mr Abbott came to CHOGM, a multi-lateral meeting of 53 member nations, with an entirely domestic agenda. He needed Sri Lankan support to combat people smuggling, and so was unwilling to criticise his hosts.
While human rights concerns – forced abductions, torture, and extrajudicial killings by state forces, land seizures by the military, and oppression of political opponents – dominated every public CHOGM event, Abbott sidestepped these at every turn.
"We accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen," he said of torture allegations, instead focusing on the progress that had been made, and on Australia's co-operation at sea.
But Abbott's refusal to even countenance Sri Lanka's ongoing human rights issues, in contradiction to the position of the UN and his own foreign affairs department, was craven and irresponsible.
To put a minor, questionable political point above an issue as fundamental as human rights diminished Australia and cheapened the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Charter, of which Australia was a key drafter, promotes democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
If the Commonwealth's members aren't willing to defend those, its value as a multilateral organisation – of 53 disparate countries with little in common save for a British colonial heritage – must be seriously questioned.
For the next two years, the Chairman of the Commonwealth is Rajapakse, a man credibly accused of war crimes, and resistant to any independent inquiry into them. It is poor appointment for a body trying to remain relevant in a crowded multilateral calendar.
Abbott's charm offensive contrasted with the outright offensive of British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose focus on Sri Lanka's human rights failings has overwhelmed almost all else at CHOGM.
Mr Cameron infuriated the Sri Lankan regime by visiting the war-affected northern city of Jaffna, and meeting mothers of disappeared men and families displaced by the military.
Cameron struck a statesman's tone at his press briefing, telling the Sri Lankan government theirs was a country of "incredible potential", but that it could not escape the realities of ongoing human rights violations.
Sri Lanka would not be helped by the Commonwealth "gliding over the difficult issues, the human rights issues, journalistic freedom issues, reconciliation", Mr Cameron said.
Sri Lanka responded to the two Prime Ministers in kind.
Abbott was afforded a naval brass band playing him Waltzing Matilda on his last morning in Colombo. Cameron was farewelled with a typically cryptic Rajapakse warning: "People in glass houses should not throw stones".