"So the pen works,'' Labor's man for Pacific affairs, Richard Marles, could be heard to remark as he swapped signed papers with Nauru to cement the government's plan to re-open an asylum seeker centre on the island.
''A bit dry at the start,'' responded Nauru's Foreign Minister Kieran Keke, a comment that roughly summed up Labor's slow embrace of the Pacific Solution.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard stood alongside this morning as the two men pressed ink to the page, in an ante room in Cook Islands ahead of a summit of Pacific leaders.
This deal, known formally as the ''memorandum of understanding between the Republic of Nauru and the Commonwealth of Australia relating to the transfer to and assessment of persons on Nauru and related issues,'' is the much hoped for lifeline
Labor has grasped in what it hopes will be an a escape to a toxic political problem.
Ms Gillard offered her "sincere thanks'' for her Nauru counterpart, President Sprent Dabwido - not least, it must be assumed, for patiently waiting while the government came back to a policy Opposition leader Tony Abbott has long said should never have been abandoned.
"Australia has always helped us in the past, and we can return this kind gesture by helping Australia with its current situation. We are very happy to help,'' Mr Dabwibo told reporters after the signing cermony.
But the deal is vague on details. The number of asylum seekers to be held on the island is yet to be settled, Mr Dabwibo said - as is the length of time they will be held.
"The amont of time that they spend on the island - that is still a work in progress. But the Prime Minister has assured us they won't be there forever.''