Unintended irony in tribute to Canberra
Canberra has been celebrating its 100th birthday this week.
In presumedly unintended irony, flotillas of hot-air balloons have been soaring into the talkfest city's skies in tribute.
Wags were chuckling on Thursday that the economists at the immense Treasury headquarters must have taken a holiday.
The balloon that crashed into the Treasury building. Photo: Peter G. Schlumpp
One of the balloons apparently couldn't find enough hot air to climb above the building, crashed into it and slid to the ground. Mercifully, no one was injured.
Balloonists searching for super-heated drafts would have been advised to float a bit up Capital Hill. It was the last day of the week's parliamentary sittings, and gales of over-warmed gas issued from Parliament House.
In the absence of an actual leadership challenge, sudden spill or tap on the shoulder, some malcontent set the panic alert to DEFCON 1 by launching a rumour about a delegation of determined Ruddites marching on Prime Minister Julia Gillard's office.
Frantic calls to those known as the ''Rudd forces'' - a group whose numbers currently fall short of cyclone strength - established that neither white nor black smoke was issuing from any of the great House's ventilation ducts.
Indeed, Ms Gillard appeared borne on a fair breeze courtesy of the latest job figures. Ms Gillard has been chanting in ever-increasing volume about jobs for Aussies for a fortnight, and you'd need a super-computer to calculate the number of times she and her ministers used the words ''jobs'' and ''work'' during the day.
When Opposition Leader Tony Abbott tried to let a bit of air out of Ms Gillard's canopy by noting that annual interest payments amounted to $12 billion on the government's gross debt of $263 billion, the Prime Minister countered that Mr Abbott had no comprehension of the economy.
Abbott's slight bodyguard, Christopher Pyne, shrilled that the only person at the dispatch box with an economics degree was Tony Abbott.
''Where's your economics degree?'' he demanded of Ms Gillard. And so began the battle of the academic points score.
Speaker Anna Burke was annoyed, but couldn't resist offering that her degree in economics was from Melbourne University.
Ms Gillard bought in, too. She is a bachelor both in laws and arts, but she had, she declared, studied economics at Adelaide and Melbourne Universities. Her old textbooks, if Mr Abbott needed them - he having spent his university years boxing and playing rugby - were in a shed at home.
For the record, Mr Abbott gained bachelor degrees in economics and arts at Sydney University and a masters in Arts at Oxford while a Rhodes scholar.
He didn't bother mentioning it, which possibly saved a stray hot air balloon from being flung to the stratosphere above the national capital.