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Daddy's girls

Abbott's secret weapons: Bridget and Frances Abbott in <i>Harper's Bazaar</i>.

Abbott's secret weapons: Bridget and Frances Abbott in Harper's Bazaar. Photo: Sam Hendel/Harpers Bazaar

During the Keating and Howard years, political offspring were mostly kept in the shadows, leaving their respective fathers to bathe in the limelight.

With an election coming, things have changed.

Tony Abbott unleashes his two weapons of mass distraction next week in the pages of Harper's Bazaar Australia magazine.

Side by side: Kevin Rudd and Jessica.

Side by side: Kevin Rudd and Jessica. Photo: Andrew Meares

His daughters, Bridget, 20, and Frances, 22, have become fashion models for the magazine, which draped them in thousands of dollars worth of designer duds from Paris to New York and plastered them over five glossy pages.

In the accompanying interview, the sisters reveal the Abbott household doubles as a catwalk when the siblings are deciding what to wear to their father's big events.

''We are each other's stylists, I guess,'' says Bridget. ''We still live at home and it's pretty much an all-girl household most of the time - dad's never there - so we bounce ideas off each other and mum. Sometimes we'll come out in a dress we think is really nice and she'll be like, 'No you wore that out on Saturday night - and you can't wear that to an event!' We do have to be careful of the type of clothes we wear.''

Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch.

Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch. Photo: Getty Images

But Frances adds that living in the Abbott spotlight has given them a ''thick skin''. As she puts it: ''haters gonna hate''.

Harper's editor-in-chief Kellie Hush said the magazine had approached the Abbott sisters to take part in the shoot, and while she has no plans to do something similar with Kevin Rudd's daughter Jessica, the PM's girl has already been launched as a columnist in Cleo magazine, and has been busy doing the talk show rounds of late.

In the latest edition of Cleo, Jessica Rudd wrote that she was sick of all the ''political bitching'', comparing life in Canberra to the 2004 flick Mean Girls.

Hot potato: Rebekah Brooks.

Hot potato: Rebekah Brooks. Photo: Reuters

''The corridors are a cacophony of scoffs, burns … eye rolls are more common than smiles. Wednesday nights are party nights, Thursdays are for gossip - who hooked up with who, who got so blotto they were barely awake for question time,'' she wrote.

She compared the press gallery's Mid-Winter Ball with a school formal, to which she was her father's date and wore a black off-the-shoulder evening gown.

She also revealed that she spent the final parliamentary sitting fortnight in Canberra and she said she was by her father's side when he challenged Julia Gillard for the Labor leadership.

Buried in the "nose bleeds": Roxy Jacenko.

Buried in the "nose bleeds": Roxy Jacenko. Photo: Nick Cubbin

This week it emerged key strategic decisions during the Rudd campaign will be made by a small team of ''confidants'', which will reportedly include - at times - wife Therese Rein, daughter Jessica and son Nicholas.

News find itself limited 

While Rupert Murdoch controls much of the world's traditional media with a clenched fist, this week he discovered just how little control he has in the new digital world.

Even Murdoch's high-powered New York spokesman Steven Rubenstein was unable to kill a scandalous story on a well-read website last Saturday, despite having comprehensively denied it, telling the website ''there is no truth to these rumours'' which provided the content of the article that scrutinised the relationship between Rupert Murdoch, his son Lachlan, and their disgraced former executive Rebekah Brooks, who is about to face court over the phone-hacking scandal.

The item was comprehensively regurgitated by a small-time local gossip blog, however the little-known one-man website quickly removed the article after it came to the attention of the Murdochs. By Thursday it had been mysteriously replaced with a glowing report about Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch.

When PS approached Lachlan Murdoch's Sydney spokesman, who described the story as ''total crap'', he quickly passed the hot potato on to the corporate affairs office at the family firm, News Corporation Australia, which just as briskly diverted any inquiries to Steven Rubenstein in New York. PS is yet to hear back from Rubenstein, the firm which has also handled several other high-profile names in the Big Apple over the years, including Murdoch's great mate Donald Trump, and the late hotelier Leona Helmsley, who was dubbed by the press the Queen of Mean and who left her $2 million fortune to her pet dog.

It is no secret the Murdochs share an ongoing and deep, personal bond with Brooks, who spent several weeks in Sydney with her husband Charlie in April as a guest of Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch.

Brooks and Sarah Murdoch were also spotted swimming at Nielsen Park together.

The controversial couple were also treated to trips aboard a super yacht on the harbour and mingled with Sydney's leading racing families, seen as a pre-emptive move by Charlie Brooks, a horse trainer in England, to pave the way for a potential relocation for the couple to Sydney. Their holiday also coincided with a trip to Sydney by Rupert Murdoch, just two months before he filed for divorce from his third wife Wendi.

All in order at DJs show

There is no better barometer of Sydney's social pecking order than the seating arrangements at Wednesday night's David Jones riviera-themed fashion extravaganza.

While PS has managed to cling on to a front-row position for the past decade or so, many other faces, including a few DJs chief executives and designers, have come and gone from the coveted seats at fashion ground zero.

Despite all her exposure, both good and bad, as a Celebrity Apprentice, the publicity-seeking socialite Roxy Jacenko (pictured right) was buried in the ''nose bleeds'', sitting in the, gulp, back row and doing her best to avoid making eye contact with PS.

Adding insult to injury, Jacenko had to endure the ignominy of sitting BEHIND The Wentworth Courier's fashion editor Donny Galella.

Now, it would have been fine if it were the editor of Vogue or Harpers Bazaar, but a suburban weekly? Ouch.

Sitting alongside me were the Zimmermann sisters, Nicky and Simone, who have managed to withstand industry headwinds with their eponymous label and remain in the front row. They have faired much better than Lisa Ho, the Ksubi boys and Kirrily Johnston, designers who have become extinct recently.

PS also noted GQ editor Ceri David quickly removing herself from the front row to offer it up to her boss, Nicole Sheffield, who had been relegated to a less enviable position.

It was Sheffield who infamously sacked former Vogue Australia editor Kirstie Clements a year ago, an event David no doubt remembers well.

On Thursday DJs' new ambassador Jessica Gomes was welcomed into the ''family'' over lunch hosted by store chief executive Paul Zahra at Gowings Bar and Grill.

Gomes, who is feted for the curves which led her to become one of the world's top bikini models, told PS she was glad her Chinese-Portuguese looks had been embraced by a major Australian brand, agreeing the modelling industry in Australia had changed in recent years, with models from a wider ethnic background being embraced.

Gomes, who finished Wednesday night's show wearing a wild Camilla Franks ensemble, is also pursuing an acting career and plans to return this month to her home in Los Angeles, where she is working towards her first major film/TV project.

 

Game of thrones

A week after PS revealed Rupert Murdoch's Mr Fix-It Col Allan had been sent from the New York Post to News Corporation's Surry Hills bunker, PS hears he has taken up residence in Murdoch's own office, conveniently located next to the plush, executive bathroom. Meanwhile staff at The Daily Telegraph were relieved to hear plans to ship them to Parramatta had been scotched, with the company instead focusing on creating a media hub in Surry Hills.

 

Easy mob

Good to see product endorsement deals heading some of our showbiz veterans' way, with former Skippy star Ken James, who played the older Hammond boy, Mark, teaming up with former Midday show maestro Geoff Harvey to shoot a commercial for mobility scooters. To be fair, the model James is spruiking looks more like something out of Easy Rider, complete with chrome handle bars and ''pleather'' trim.

 

News hound

The pitter patter of little paws returned to the Kennerley kennel in Woollahra this week with television personality Kerri-Anne Kennerley and her husband, John, taking delivery of a golden retriever pup named Digger. KAK lost Harvey, a springer spaniel who lived for 15 years and was named after Geoff Harvey, earlier this year but told PS she was ready for a new puppy in her life.

 

All at sea

Celebrity accountant Anthony Bell has taken to the high seas of the Cote d'Azur with his wife Kelly Landry, along with an interesting cargo, including Kate Waterhouse and husband Luke Ricketson, as well as media wrangler Grant Vandenberg.

 

Oscar tips

There is mounting speculation in Hollywood that three of Australia's biggest acting exports could be in the running for an Oscar this year with Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts all generating rave reviews for their respective films. Blanchett has been doing the chat show circuit, spruiking her performance in Woody Allen's film Blue Jasmine, while big marketing campaigns are about to be unleashed for Kidman's Grace of Monaco and Watts' Diana films.

3 comments so far

  • Hang on, isn't Abbot a misogynist? Shouldn't his daughters be wearing an apron?

    Commenter
    Christos
    Date and time
    August 03, 2013, 5:08PM
    • LOVE what they're wearing. But no mention of the designers in the article???

      Commenter
      Zahra
      Date and time
      August 03, 2013, 9:25PM
      • Tony doesn't want the creator of clothes that convince you his daughters are "models" to be revealed, lest ordinary people have access to the same stealthy "secret weapon" technology.

        You didn't BTW, notice the craft of the photographer in using cleverly applied back and side lighting which visually thins the figure and reduces (through 'flattening') forms visible in shaded and half-lit regions, thus making unsightly "lumps and bumps" much less visible.

        The picture demonstrates - in truth; the skills of the individuals hired to make Tony's daughters appear to be "secret weapons", rather than the verity of any viable substance behind such a contention.

        Times it seems, never change. It's still the same old story... The workers/soldiers toil, while the masters/generals reap the rewards as though it was they who actually achieved the results.

        Commenter
        Steve_C
        Location
        Blue Mountains
        Date and time
        August 04, 2013, 1:35PM

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