THE LAST GASP: From the same cloth

A deficit – or surplus? – of fashion sense saw Wayne Swan and Tony Abbott on the same page, for once, while Julia Gillard painted the town, in a fashion.

Well in the end it was no surprise, Wayne Swan unveiled a deficit and opted for the blue tie – as expected. We were worried he’d pull out another of his favourites, the full-blown purple, or even opt for the red power tie. But with his power coming to an end it would have been an awkward look. And thankfully the purple peril didn’t show its ugly head.

What was startling, however, from this week’s budget, was Tony Abbott then went on to endorse Swan – not the deficit of course, or the overall spending makeup, nor anything else in the budget bar DisabilityCare and one or two other titbits. But he did endorse Wayne’s tie, opting for the same blue tie and suit with white shirt combination.

We thought the Abbonator would definitely go for the jugular, and bring out the power red, reminding all in the House who will be boss. But perhaps the Coalition has stopped trying. Or perhaps the two men have more in common than they’d both like to admit. Or perhaps no one else was giving this a second thought except Gasp. Probably the first.

Canberra put on an extraordinarily brisk week for its big day, with scarves and big overgarments a must. Finance Minister Penny Wong got her forecasts wrong – zing – and had to speed through a press conference in the central courtyard after forgetting her coat. Elsewhere, Joe and Malcolm’s pinstripes seemed woollier, coarser, cosier. Unfortunately Bob Katter didn’t opt for the beanie to warm his perennially cold head – that would have been awesome. Tasmanian Christine Milne showed the warm state saps how it was done, rocking so many layers she could afford to wear silk scarves. Meanwhile, Julia Gillard struck a sharp figure in this soft, dark coat – evoking memories as she crossed Canberra’s Capital Circle of Arthur Streeton’s lone pedestrian in the classic The Railway Station, Redfern (1893), albeit with massive power umbrella.

And there were no surprises when said umbrella tried to slip away from her. Ahh, the symbolism.

Anyway, they were the highlights from the promised budget fashions. Next year we might turn the mirror on ourselves and check out the journos.

Away from Canberra there were a few moments of note.

– Richard Branson started the week playing the fool, dressing up as an air hostess – red lippy, goatee and all – on a promotion flight from Malaysia. It prompted some to question just what type of space cadet he was. But he ended the week doing the laughing, watching as Virgin Australia’s share price plunged in the wake of an earnings downgrade, knowing he’d sold-out a huge portion of his stake three weeks ago, around a six-month high. Just another week in the life of Sir Richard.

– Europe went further into recession, quarterly growth dipping 0.2 per cent, negative for the sixth consecutive time. In good news for Europe, they’re going into summer.

– Oh, and the Australian dollar finally went below parity. Unemployed manufacturing workers did not see the funny side and nor did we. Good bye.

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