How the Grinch stole Christmas in Canberra

So rancorous are relations between the government and the opposition that even the humble Christmas party invitation is being used as a political weapon. At least in Labor's case.

With the festive season approaching - and for many in this place, the temporary lull cannot come soon enough - the usual round of Yuletide knees-ups are being organised for the final sitting week, which is the last week of November.

The Coalition invitation, extended to MPs, senators and staffers, features an innocuous Christmas tree illustration. The most frightening aspect is the revelation that the Northern Territory Country Liberal Party senator, Nigel Scullion, will be plying all and sundry with his ''famous mango daiquiris''.

Labor's invitation is far more foreboding. It features Tony Abbott, portrayed as the evil Christmas Grinch, poised atop Parliament House, his pointy fingers holding a bright red Christmas bauble upon which is inscribed the word ''no''.

The portrayal of Mr Abbott as the Dr Seuss character - a bitter, grouchy, cave-dwelling creature with a heart two sizes too small - has not gone unnoticed in the Coalition.

''There's a clear choice this Christmas: enjoying Nigel's famous mango daiquiris, or a Labor Party obsessed with Tony Abbott. Which would you rather attend?'' said one senior Liberal figure.

Moreover, the Coalition party is free.

Depending on who you are and when you pay, Labor's shindig costs between $25 and $50 a head. Mr Abbott may be the Grinch but Labor is Scrooge.

A Labor staffer returned fire: ‘‘The Coalition’s has to be free otherwise no-one would turn up. They’ve got to bribe staffers with free booze.’’

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