All the better to see the opposition with

WHEN the Prime Minister took to the stage at the National Press Club on Wednesday, the nation buzzed with excitement.

Words like "unprecedented'', and "shock move" were whispered. Eyebrows wiggled and Twitter began to chirp as people stared at their TVs. Was Julia Gillard making a spectacle of herself?

From speculation to spectacles … the PM puts voters in the frame on the election.
From speculation to spectacles … the PM puts voters in the frame on the election. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Ms Gillard may have announced the election date - 7½ months early - but for a moment, the glasses threatened to overshadow the news. Not since John Howard went rimless had Australia witnessed such a major politico-ocular event.

While the Prime Minister does wear contact lenses or glasses, she is rarely - if ever - seen in public with her specs on. And Wednesday was the first time Ms Gillard had worn the new, dark-framed pair.

As the Adelaide writer and "vampire hunter" Michael Scott Hand posted: "I don't remember seeing Julia Gillard wearing glasses before. Is it because THIS TIME SHE MEANS BUSINESS?"

Some punters hypothesised that the member for Lalor was courting the youth market with the trendy new accessory. "It seems @JuliaGillard is already campaigning to the hipster voters with those new glasses. Well played," wrote Kath McLellan of Sydney.


Then again, the glasses were suspiciously similar to the pair sported by the outgoing US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. How hipster could that be?

Justin Colee (who describes himself as pro-carbon tax) had other ideas: "did @JuliaGillard borrow her glasses from Greg Combet?"

Soon enough, all the talk of the Prime Minister's eyewear prompted fears that the talk was too superficial. The marketing expert Jane Caro told Fairfax Media it would not be a story if the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, got new glasses (he wears them for reading). "We feel we all have the right to comment on what a woman looks like and what she wears. It's her business, isn't it?''