As electoral disconnects go, they don't come starker.
Flanked by his Attorney-General Christian Porter, Scott Morrison, Australia's Pentecostally-inclined Prime Minister, had important information for the nation.
It was Tuesday, December 10, and the punchier-than-thou pair had called a mid-morning press conference in Sydney to address not the galloping drought/bushfire/air-pollution emergency gripping the nation, as many might have expected, but rather, their much unclamoured-for Religious Freedom Bill.
They proceeded to unveil an "exposure draft" of the proposed law that would strip employees of religious organisations from the anti-discrimination protections that apply to everyone else.
Even if it wasn't the environmental crisis, a casual observer might expect such primacy to attach to, say, free speech, a bedrock principle of liberal democracy, and yet a right conspicuously absent in Australian law.
But the modern Liberal Party is not what its name suggests.
Its push for faith-based exceptionalism owes its mock urgency to the party's Christian Right base, which demanded a quid pro quo during the 2017 marriage reform process. That, and the Old Testament fundamentalism of a footballer whose moral purchase derives from intentionally colliding with other people at a full sprint.
Exposure drafts are of course intended to lay bare the government's legislative instruments.
But it turned out parading this particular exposure draft, on this particular day, laid bare something else entirely - something more darkly telling about the essence of this government and its tin ear.
That something else? Its refusal to honestly square up to the threat of climate change, come-what-may.
So there they were, in this city, on this day.
Sydneysiders were heaving and wheezing through the acrid smoke outside as Porter outlined the 11 changes to the previous draft he'd sifted from the thousands of submissions provoked by its friendless first attempt.
Eleven, rather inconveniently, was also the number of times above "hazardous" the air quality was rated at that morning.
Which is to say, particulate levels according to the air quality index in the Sydney basin were 11 times worse than what health authorities regard as safe.
Across the day, some areas were much worse. Camden and Liverpool reached 1055 on the index, and Rozelle on the CBD's western edge briefly notched up 2552.
Have no illusions. The quiet Australians Mr Morrison lauds were not talking about anything else. Around the water-coolers of the usually gleaming Emerald City, they weren't talking about fetters on faith.
They were talking about low visibility in air you cannot safely breathe, new water restrictions forced by extended droughts and heatwave conditions, and of course bushfires made more numerous and more catastrophic by those conditions. In short they were talking about climate change.
Officially, the government in Canberra remained steadfast - obscured in the smoke and mirrors of its hollow claim that Australia would achieve its Paris commitments "in a canter" - a feat achievable only if over-performance from Australia's especially lax Kyoto emissions task were allowed to be counted.
As is the way of our dull, message-managed politics, ministers held the line like automatons, regardless of the now tangible evidence affecting public opinion, or their own instincts.
The "talking points", it seems, stressed the inappropriateness of asking questions on climate change which amount to "political point-scoring" during a tragedy. The focus, voters would be told as if they were children, must remain on fighting the fires.
But as a desiccated country burns and its cities choke, the first cracks are appearing in the government facade, rendering even more lame the PM's call for people to effectively keep calm and carry on.
Yet the confluence of severe conditions, which conform to all the scientific predictions of a warmer, more turbulent atmosphere, suggest that public sentiment could harden rather quickly into something closer to fear. And then to anger.
Can Morrison see it? Is his political antennae, his reputedly unique keen sense of the ordinary Australian voter, deserved?
Or is he less of a John Howard and more a tribal conservative warrior in the Abbott mould?
The answer to this question will determine whether the Coalition can adapt to community sentiment, which threatens to shift faster even than the weather.
By week's end, the signs were there that Morrison, at least, was feeling the heat.
No longer able to ignore a new outspokenness by some on his party's moderate flank - notably NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean, federal Liberal backbencher Jason Falinski, and Malcolm Turnbull - Morrison departed from his own Deputy PM, Michael McCormack, who continued to argue that discussing climate change should wait until after the fire season.
Kean had directly linked the fires and smoke to climate change, declaring "this is not normal, and doing nothing is not an option".
Speaking to Nine newspapers, he made the very rational point: "if this is not a catalyst for change (in policy) then I don't know what is".
Turnbull used Twitter to declare that low- to zero-emissions technologies are there to be embraced, noting the only thing we lack (beyond political commitment, presumably) is time.
"I know, because I'm a Sydneysider, how unusual it is to see that haze across my city, and I know how distressing that would be, particularly for young people who haven't seen that before," Morrison said, acknowledging the anxiety, if not its cause.
"So that is why I think it is important to have a sense of calm on these matters on the basis of information.
"We will continue to work to reduce our emissions, as we should.
"But what we cannot say, what no one can say, is those programs, of themselves, are in any way directly linked to any fire event."
Morrison famously said he was going to burn every day for the virtuously "quiet" Australians.
Yet studied inaction, ironically, might mean it is the Coalition that burns, as voters tire of the negligence to which they've been party for longer than was healthy.
- Mark Kenny is a senior fellow at the ANU's Australian Studies Institute, and host of the weekly podcast series Democracy Sausage.