Parliament House is nearly deserted this week, its long corridors so sepulchrally silent you can hear the drone of the vast air-conditioning system and occasionally a gust from the hot winds that raked the capital in recent days. Most of the building’s occupants have fled; those who remain are in the ministerial wing where the business of government still ticks over in a few offices, or watching the news cycle descend into summer torpor in the press gallery.

For the last two days, however, Tony Abbott has been in his office, in a far-flung corridor of the House of Representatives wing, receiving visitors amid the silence. He's in there again today, two days before Christmas, thinking and mapping out the path back to the power for his government-in-exile.