CORRECTION: This column incorrectly asserts that the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was involved in the decision to launch a planned Border Force operation in Melbourne. Fairfax Media accepts unreservedly that Mr Abbott was not involved in this decision, and also accepts that Mr Abbott had no foreknowledge of the Border Force plan to stop and speak to people about their visa status.
If you were wondering why the Prime Minister, without consulting his cabinet, decided to launch Friday's ham-fisted assault on Australians' freedom of movement, his poor poll ratings are only part of the answer.
He invents faux security measures in a transparent effort to look tough. And, whether it's stripping citizenship or ordering the stopping and questioning of ordinary citizens in their daily lives, Abbott hopes to inflame Labor into opposing him so that he can point gleefully and shout "Labor is soft on terror!"
The brilliant political strategists who brought you the fastest implosion of any postwar prime minister, confronted by his backbench with a spill motion halfway through his first term, think that this is a sure fire way of winning the country's respect.
He is conjuring colourful political tricks because he is not up to the real work of addressing some of big, hard problems facing Australia, and none is bigger or harder than the one Abbott ostentatiously avoided this week.