Northside/southside war ... but who's watching?
Merchandise war ... Gai Brodtmann handed out these t-shirts to the Parliament press gallery today. Photo: Bianca Hall
What's a local politician keen to increase their public profile to do?
Not content to simply stand behind their leader in press-conferences in the nodding position so beloved by backbenchers, Canberra's Labor MPs are taking a different tack.
Federal Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann and Federal Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh have been indulging themselves in a public phoney war about the relative merits of living south of Lake Burley Griffin, versus living to its north.
And it's showing no signs of going away.
Today, Ms Brodtmann stalked the press gallery with a staffer, cheerfully handing out (XL) t-shirts bearing "Southside Rocks" on the front, and "Gai Brodtmann: Working for Canberra" on the back to bemused journalists.
It all "began" on February 9, when Mr Leigh enthralled his parliamentary colleagues with a speech about his efforts to gather stories from other MPs about where they live in Canberra when they're not safely at home with their loved ones.
"Senator Wong says 'I love the northside because I can walk to Lonsdale roasters, eat at Italian and Sons and see the balloons floating overhead as I drive across the bridge to work'," Mr Leigh related.
"The member for Parramatta tells me that the Gungahlin area has 'some of the best bike paths around'. Senator Stephens tells me 'I love to start my mornings with a brisk walk on Mt Ainslie.' The Attorney-General enjoys using Dickson pool during summer."
But, entreated Mr Leigh, "despite all this, too few of those who work in Parliament House live on the trendy northside.
"Indeed, only 14 members of the Labor caucus live in the Fraser electorate. The members for Canberra, Eden-Monaro and Lalor have good excuses, but what about the rest of you? Members of parliament and staff, it's time to move to the fashionable right bank of the Molongolo River."
If this wasn't all too much, Ms Brodtmann startled casual parliamentary observers three days later, when she took to her feet to proclaim, "I rise to speak about a very important issue: something that needs to be settled right here, right now".
"Today the south side is striking back against scurrilous claims made last week by the member for Fraser," Ms Brodtmann announced.
"Never before have I been so underwhelmed by a pitch for living north of the lake. [Mr Leigh's] admission that just 14 members of the Labor caucus call the north side home really says it all. The south side landslide proves that members love it in the south [and] MPs have voted with their feet, and their staff as well."
Perhaps the t-shirt will entreaty more of their colleagues to join them? Or perhaps not. This reporter believes Trinny and Susannah would have you in a headlock in a split second if you wore this thing publicly.