Maroon tie wins on a red-ink day

Maroon tie wins on a red-ink day

The rigours of budget day can have a strange effect on people. Take Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for instance. Barely able to contain himself at the prospect of ripping into Wayne Swan's sixth and likely valedictory budget, the pamphlet enthusiast declared his party had every cabinet's new must-have: a Minister for Hotness.

"Now that Joe Hockey (pictured left) looks like George Clooney (right), of course I'm going to stick with him," he said, ostensibly pleased to have a man of such calibre as shadow treasurer.

Meanwhile, Swan took the time to soak up the remaining rays of Canberra's autumn sunshine, posing for happy snaps with his family in the Parliament House courtyard, doing his best impression of a family man without a care in the world - rather than a Treasurer due to hand down a budget dripping with red ink.

He showed no signs of the stressful decision he had to make that that morning - which tie to wear.

"I see people can actually bet money on what tie I wear today - which one to wear?" asked @SwannyDPM on Twitter.

For those playing at home, the winner was maroon. Maroon.

Whoever said Canberra was guilty of navel-gazing?

She's no mug

She might be trailing in the polls, but Julia Gillard is well in front in terms of coffee mug sales at the Parliament House bookshop. Despite hot competition from every other Australian prime minister in history, our sources tell us the mugs featuring her, well, mug, are outselling the field by a wide margin.

Seeing purple

Spotted trawling the halls of Parliament House: a lost-looking ABC supremo Mark Scott in a fetching purple tie. Perhaps understandably, given the talk from budget lock-up was the visible reduction in the number of reporters covering the day, given budget cutbacks. Maybe Scott was waiting in vain for his ABC24 crew to show up on time.

Rabbitohs wager

The tango between James Packer's Crown and rival casino operator Echo Entertainment took a new twist this week when Packer took up sponsorship rights for one of rugby league's top clubs - the Russell Crowe-owned South Sydney - just days after Echo dropped the team finally looking like premiership contenders.

One could understand why former rugby supremo and current Echo chairman John O'Neill might find league is not to his tastes, but the Packer family have been long-time supporters of the Rabbitohs' bitter rivals the Sydney Roosters. There is also the small matter of Crown spending $1 million a year to be the jersey sponsor of a team in a town where it doesn't actually have a casino ... sorry, integrated resort.

Maybe it's Packer's way of backing himself for the $1 billion Sydney harbour development, Barangaroo, which is facing stiff competition from Echo's counter-proposal.

Rupert's winery

What to get the man who has everything? A vineyard of course, and that's the present media mogul Rupert Murdoch has bought himself, tweeting his joy that he had picked up the Moraga Vineyards Estate at Bel Air, Los Angeles, for a reported $US29.5 million.

Murdoch saw the ad for the vineyard sale in one of his own rags, The Wall Street Journal, and is now in escrow to buy the wine growing estate in the Santa Monica Mountains situated eight kilometres from the Pacific Ocean.

Like anything in Tinseltown, the grape farm has a Hollywood connection: in the 1930s, Victor Fleming, director of classics The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind, owned the land, which was then a horse ranch. It later became the first commercial winery to be bonded in the city of Los Angeles after the end of Prohibition in 1933.

The vineyard was sold by Tom Jones, though not the full-throated baritone from Wales, but rather the former chief executive of the aircraft manufacturer Northrop Corporation.

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