For a man who is, by far, Australia's best political orator in generations, the Prime Minister has been getting into a lot of trouble over his words lately. There was his "and the court will so hold" pronouncement in parliament on Barnaby Joyce's citizenship, which seemed to dare the High Court to say he was wrong, something the justices were happy to do. There was his forthright rejection of the proposal for an Indigenous voice in the constitution as "undesirable", a specifically and very poorly chosen word that threw into sharp relief the fact that white Australia had asked Indigenous communities what they wanted through recognition, then told them to go jump when they got back an answer that some didn't like. Then there he was on Friday, furiously (and correctly) defending Josh Frydenberg, attacking the idea of a citizenship audit and equating it to a "witchhunt".

Not the sort of language it's easy to row back from, shall we say.