As Michael McCormack strode into a church service to mark the opening of the federal parliamentary year, his message was simple: "Now is the time to build."
Less than two hours later, some of his Nationals colleagues tried to tear him down.
Barnaby Joyce was determined to blast him out as party leader.
Mr McCormack just wanted to push the contest aside.
"Look, out of respect for the fire victims who we will honour today in parliament, I will refrain and leave my comments until after the party room," he told reporters.
"There's a time to tear down and there's a time to build. Now is a time to build."
With the service underway, Mr Joyce plonked himself outside the church to do a round of television interviews.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese was deeply unimpressed with the whole affair.
He and Prime Minister Scott Morrison planned to spend the first day of federal parliament paying tribute to bushfire victims and volunteers.
"I think today's focus should be on the victims of this bushfire crisis, the loss of property, the loss of wildlife and the devastation that regional communities have experienced," Mr Albanese told reporters.
"Anything else is totally self-indulgent."
As a defining day in politics loomed, the politicians inside were asked to embrace a long-term vision and consider refugees, Aboriginal people and those suffering during the bushfire crisis.
"Now is the time to prepare for tomorrow's needs, not simply the day after next, but prepare for the needs of the tomorrows of future generations," Bishop Stephen Pickard told those gathered.
"How poignant to pray this prayer as the Earth of this country is turned black; peoples' lives overturned, grief abounds and the human spirit stretched to its limits."
Once the service wrapped up, the Nationals descended on Parliament House to vote on the party's leadership.
Mr McCormack clung onto the top job with David Littleproud elected as deputy.
"The shenanigans are over," Mr Littleproud declared.
"It's time to get back to looking after those people that are facing drought, that have faced up to the fires. It's time for us to focus on them, not us."