In one of his occasional surprising Pentecostalisms, Scott Morrison told his first party room meeting that he would "burn for the Australian people". With three parliamentary weeks under his belt, it is still not clear what precise form that will take.
"It's about ensuring that we get and do the obvious things that need to be done, that we do the little things well as well as doing the big things well," he told his team at the end of May, as they settled in shock back into the offices so many expected to be vacating. "That we focus on fixing the problems that need to be fixed."
For a man who believes in miracles and faces enormous geopolitical and social problems, this plan is essentially managerial.
As to the actual things that need doing, Morrison really only has one focus: the economy. He talks a lot about infrastructure and farmers, the national disability scheme and mental health, but all of it comes back to the economy and "jobs, jobs, jobs". That's been his mantra in his first question time, in his agenda-setting speeches and in much of what he has said since May.
No doubt Morrison sees this as the message of the election and the key to retaining government after Labor's big picture had a frightener too many. Whether it is also a deliberately bling-free vision on which he intends to rest an entire term of government is less clear. So far, a clear policy agenda is not obvious.
John Howard came to government in 1996 with a plan for Australians to feel "comfortable and relaxed". In the event, his first term was all about upheaval, in gun ownership, the public service and industrial relations.
Morrison comes bearing the promise of jobs and economic security. But he does so as the Reserve Bank urges more urgent action to shore up the economy, as China and the United States threaten global stability, at least economic, and as Western democracies are fraying. Upheaval is in the wind.
China is the major geopolitical challenge, as Morrison faces calls from every direction to recognise the threat. Australia is seeking to back peddle on some of the quiet influence that China has secured through education institutional links and investment, and its more hard-edged belt and road deals, which have snuck up on the local consciousness with remarkable lack of domestic foresight. If the Senate succeeds in setting up an inquiry into Australia's relationship with China, as pushed by crossbencher Rex Patrick and apparently agreed by Labor, the stage is set for hearings that will be wide-ranging, diplomatically delicate and, you can imagine, highly revealing.
At the same time, the Trump administration is causing headaches with its escalation of tensions with China - a missile base in Darwin anyone?- and its request for Australia to help push back on Iran's attacks on container ships in the Persian Gulf. The strategic positioning, in the view of Labor defence spokesmanRichard Marles, is as challenging as any since World War 2.
These are challenges that Morrison has so far not tackled publicly in any clear way. Likewise, he has shown no inclination to step into the melee over this weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference in Sydney.
The forces of conservatism come together in Sydney, and not in the spirit of a steady hand on the wheel.
In its first outing in Australia, the conference has a rather lamentable line-up of oh, it's you agains. Attendees will hear yet more from the likes of Rowan Dean, Ross Cameron, Peta Credlin and Mark Latham who already dominate primetime tele. Ditto for the visitors, who likewise feel more about the celebrity yell than a serious delve. Nigel Farage is the headline act. He's appearing alongside Fox News' Judge Jeanine Pirro and Brexiteer Raheem Kassam - the guy Labor latched on to as the demon of this event. In reality, Kassam looks more provocateur than anything approaching dangerous nutter, and denying him a visa would not only confirm his narrative, it would also be beside the point.
The CPAC conference is a longstanding event in the United States, and one that had shunned the neo-right until its recent embrace of the forces of Breitbart and Trumpism. The real problem of CPAC is that it's now starting to look punch drunk on the notoriety and numbers that an ugly rallying cry can generate. Far from soothing the dark unrest, the conference seems set on stoking it. And it's bent on infiltration of Australia.
The question for Morrison and the Coalition is the extent to which they want to embrace this peculiarly American form of conservatism, and the extent to which they feel a need to heed and head off the danger it represents.
John Anderson, former Nationals leader, is also speaking. He represents the voice of reason. Anderson skipped politics for the farm but thanks to the miracle of modern communication is running a kind of decent version of Sky News where he interviews prominent conservatives from out west of Gunnedah.
Anderson has a devastating summary of the problem facing Western democracies, and one with which few Australians would disagree: "We're atomised, we're tribalised were massively distrustful of one another and our institutions and our children are displaying horrendous levels of anxiety and depression and self-harm," he says.
He blames "progressivism", which is where agreement will diverge. But Anderson's solution would probably find wide support. He wants to bring back civility, decency and good character - in individuals, institutions and leaders. In other words, the right is desperately in need of the right leadership.
The problem is Morrison seems prepared to stoke some big arguments that will leave Australians feeling anything but united, or comfortable and relaxed.
ScoMo and Albo battling to be the country's everyman doesn't fit the bill, but Morrison's exhortation to his party room to "govern with humility" probably does.
The problem is Morrison seems prepared to stoke some big arguments that will leave Australians feeling anything but united, or comfortable and relaxed. He's ordered a review of industrial relations law. Nuclear power and superannuation have both made it quickly on to the national agenda. While the government is protesting it has no plans on either, Energy Minister Angus Taylor ordered the nuclear power inquiry this month (and Barnaby Joyce has made it one of his big issues for the term), and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has ordered the retirement incomes inquiry (after a Productivity Commission recommendation), which has given wing to calls from his own side to scrap the increases in compulsory superannuation from next year and even to abandon superannuation for people on low incomes. These are genies better off in the bottle.
Morrison's refusal to increase Newstart in the face of an unarguable case and support from every direction can only be motivated by concern for the budget, but it looks unlikely he can withstand pressure on that for too long. His elevation of indigenous affairs to his department and appointment of the first indigenous indigenous minister, in Ken Wyatt, speaks to a desire to make progress in this fraught area. But it is difficult to see the plan for a referendum within three years as anything other than aspirational.
Meantime, Morrison is walking headlong into a fight over religious freedom, as he attempts to outlaw discrimination on the basis of religion. The straightforward plan is to include outlaw religious discrimination in the same way that sex and race and disability discrimination are outlawed, but conservatives on Morrison's team are pushing for laws that go further to give religious a kind of special and positive protection. It's a rather blinkered push that risks backfiring given the protection will extend beyond Christianity to all other religions and given the division it will cause. At the same time, the government is wading into the fraught territory of gay teachers and students in religious schools and what protections might be needed for people who don't support same-sex marriage. Like abortion, this is an issue where attempts to prescribe can only end in tears.
Morrison also seems bent on buying the little fights, for little purpose other than to wedge Labor, a Coalition modus operandi he seems unable to consign to the past. He is insisting on repealing the medevac legislation that gives doctors a say whether Nauru and Manus refugees are brought to Australia for medical treatment. He is pushing through laws that allow unions and union officials to be deregistered. And he is introducing laws that threaten prison for anyone who "incites" farm trespass by publishing a farm's location, whether or not there was any actual trespass. These laws are aimed at Aussie Farms, a website that records the location of farms around the country. In reality, though, if they make it through the Senate, it's not easy to envisage a judge sending the Aussie farms organisers to prison for publishing their online map.
The "farm invasion" laws are at the punitive end of Morrison's legislative agenda, and, like at least some of his suite of anti-terrorism laws, seem as much designed for messaging and optics as for fixing an actual problem. While this might be the politics the Coalition envisages as the way to regroup the fraying right and the forgotten bush, Morrison needs to carve out a more coherent agenda, not only to tackle the big issues, but to avoid the danger that his legionnaires will continue ignoring his plea to keep contentious discussions in-house.