Britain's flirtation with offshore processing of migrants is just the latest move in a deepening post-Brexit bromance.
London | News reports that British Home Secretary Priti Patel was considering "Australian-style" offshore detention and processing centres for asylum seekers came with an almost uniform choice of photograph.
The picture showed Patel meeting former prime minister Tony Abbott in her London office in early September, during that eventful and highly public trip to Britain when he picked up a gig advising Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government on trade.
The inference was clear, though never stated outright: Patel had picked up this shiny new policy idea from the architect of Operation Sovereign Borders.
It's a certain bet that the pair discussed Australia's efforts to counter irregular maritime migration. But Abbott has been beating that drum pretty loudly on the Westminster circuit since at least 2015; and Patel had already mentioned the possibility of boat turn-backs in early August, when the number of people crossing the Channel began to climb.
She had instructed her officials to brainstorm all options to make the crossing "unviable", And they did not just come up with the Australian option of sending them offshore (in this case 7100 kilometres away, to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic); they also reportedly canvassed using old ferries as floating detention centres, and building a "marine fence".
Still, it was the instinctive reach for the Australian toolbox that got the most attention – and it fits a pattern of ever-closer political intimacy and policy exchange between Canberra and Westminster.
It's long been a tradition that when Australian officials grapple with a new policy challenge, almost the first question is "what are the Brits doing?". That's not surprising: we have similar legal and political systems and cultures, and there are almost three times as many people in Britain – chances are they have probably come up with something we can use.
So a cable is duly dispatched to the Australian High Commission in London, and our diplomats shake the Whitehall trees to see if there are good ideas ripe for the plucking.
The British civil service, ever convinced of its own superiority, has always been happy to pass on its pearls of policy wisdom.
But something has changed. It's no longer such a one-way street. Brexit seems to have rattled the confidence of the civil service, and also cut British policymaking loose from its former default orientation towards Europe.
Unshackled Britain is refashioning its identity and outlook, and that puts Australia in a new and more attractive light.
"To Britain, Australia provides an attractive model of a prosperous, agile nation – a welfare state with a streak of libertarianism, combining a successful brand of multiculturalism with a connection to its Anglosphere origins," says Sophia Gaston, the Australian-born director of the British Foreign Policy Group.
"To a country grappling with its role in a rapidly evolving global landscape, Australia appears to be a nation that has remained steadfast in a changeable, dynamic region."
Part of the bond is also personal and comes from the very top. Lynton Crosby, who has run election campaigns for Tory leaders Michael Howard, David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, became a fulcrum for ever-deepening ties between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party.
Australian accents everywhere
High Commissioner George Brandis has more than once remarked on the number of Australian accents he heard on the floor of Conservative Party HQ when he popped in on election night last year.
He tells The Australian Financial Review that the bilateral relationship is at "an excellent point", with abundant "prime ministerial and ministerial engagement".
So it's little wonder that a Conservative government is attached to an "Australian-style" points-based immigration system and an "Australian-style" no-deal trade relationship with the European Union.
And while several years ago the Turnbull government modelled its new Department of Home Affairs on Britain's Home Office, more recently it was the Johnson government apeing an Australian experiment in merging its foreign affairs and development assistance departments.
The DFAT-AusAID merger of 2014 was much pooh-poohed in Whitehall at the time. In fact, Tory politicians are often keener on "Australian style" policies than their bureaucrats.
For several years the Home Office manfully resisted Australia's counter-terrorism policy of "declared areas" – no-go zones in Syria – despite ministerial enthusiasm, until eventually, an ambitious junior minister bulldozed it through.
British politicians and mandarins alike do tend to watch Australia's relationship with China, south-east Asia and the Pacific pretty closely – although not as keenly nor as deferentially as Canberra sometimes likes to imagine, wish or hope.
Still, it's a relationship that comes in waves; and Gaston suggests that with Johnson at the helm and Brexit so raw, we may be at some kind of peak.
"Ultimately, Westminster's current outsized interest in Australia represents the cautious nerves of a nation in transition," she says. "When it regains its confidence in its purpose and ambitions, it will no longer need to place such a heavy importance on the guidance of its friends."