Politicians in Canberra rarely agree – but it was a different story on Wednesday night as they posed for photos together at the annual Midwinter Ball.
As the biggest social event of the year in the nation’s capital, guests came dressed to the nines for a night out to let off steam.
Due to Covid cancellations, this is the first Midwinter Ball since 2019.
A stripped down one Anton Albanese arrived with his girlfriend Jodie Haydon in head-to-toe sequins.
The ball, at which members of parliament and senators try to refute the theory that politics is show business for ugly people, started in 2000 and is being hosted by the Bundestag’s press gallery.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (left) and his partner Jodie Haydon (right) looked very glamorous as they arrived in Canberra for the Midwinter Ball
Australia’s first pair switched sides and held hands for another picture of them on the ball
It’s often a source of controversy, however, and this year is no different.
Outspoken Green Senator Lidia Thorpe, who was denied a ticket to the ball, stormed down the marble steps in blue jeans and an Aboriginal flag T-shirt, repeatedly shouting “fossil fools” and sticking out her middle fingers at the assembled guests.
Her colleague Sarah Hanson-Young wore a long white dress with “End Gas and Coal” written on the back.
Sarah Hanson-Young arrives at the Midwinter Ball in a long white dress adorned with a call to end gas and coal.
Sarah Hanson-Young’s floor-length dress also features environmental slogans when viewed from the front
Senator Dorinda Cox, Greens Leader Adam Bandt, partner Claudia Perkins and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young are pictured at the Midwinter Ball in Canberra
Ms Thorpe later reappeared shouting: “Stop destroying the planet…criminals”.
Her boss, Green MP Adam Bandt, and his partner Claudia Perkins also caused a stir.
In the past, Mrs Perkins had “Coal Kills” shaved into her head, Wednesday night she had that slogan and also “Gas Kills” written in black and red on her otherwise white dress.
On Wednesday night, she said: “I think given the fact that we’re in a climate crisis it’s really appalling that Labor is looking at 114 new gas projects and we wanted to tell as many people as possible at once.”
Secretary of State Penny Wong and Treasurer Jim Chalmers stayed outside and mingled with the crowd until the event was due to begin.
But then Mr Chalmers and the others moved away, and Ms Wong had to face half a dozen photographers on her own.
She was a good sport but found the attention increasingly uncomfortable.
“I can’t believe you all photographed me alone. “Oh look poor Penny Wong all alone at the party with no friends and a bad shoulder,” she said.
Then she added, “Okay can we stop now it’s so weird.”
Meanwhile, just a meter away, Mr Chalmers laughed at the bizarre scene.
Liberal Senator David Van (right) is pictured with his partner Nerilee Rockman arriving at the Midwinter Ball in the Great Hall of Parliament Houses in Canberra on Wednesday September 7, 2022
Pictured left to right are Social Affairs Secretary Amanda Rishworth, SA Premier Peter Malinauskas, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, Finn McCarthy and his partner, Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells, at the 2022 Midwinter Ball in Canberra
Indigenous Australian Minister Linda Burney (right) poses next to Bree Coggan, who works at the Department of Agriculture
Ms Wong said her shoulder felt much better after hitting her shoulder with a surfboard on a beach during a family vacation days before the opening of Parliament in July.
There was a bit of a commotion when just after 8 p.m. the Senate bells rang and Ms. Wong and a dozen others from the party burst into the room, stepping in in glittering ball gowns and tuxedos.
Luckily they were able to turn around and head back seconds after their arrival, as it turned out they had a quorum and they only needed to be there for a moment.
Treasury Secretary Katy Gallagher (left) is pictured in a gorgeous gown and Treasurer Jim Chalmers (right) in a classic black suit at the Midwinter Ball
Secretary of State Penny Wong dresses in all black and smiles at the Glitter Ball in Canberra
Penny Wong (left) poses for a photo with Labor politicians Katy Gallagher and Jim Chalmers. Mr Chalmer’s wife Laura is pictured next to him in an off-the-shoulder red number
Numerous guests have noted that beer and bubbly were stale and uncomfortably lukewarm both outside in the lobby and inside the ball.
Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton both posed briefly for photos and then quickly charged through the crowd to join the celebrations.
At the VIP tables, Mr. Albanese and Ms. Haydon will be joined by Senate President Sue Lines, Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko and his wife Liana, and a number of other guests.
At the other VIP table, Mr. Dutton and his wife Kirilly are joined by Nationals leader David Littleproud and partner Amelia Dobson.
Mr Littleproud and Mrs Dobson arrived early for their first formal event together, ahead of almost all of his colleagues.
An awkward mistake in the seating plan listed Ms Dobson as “Amelia Littleproud” despite not having a ring on one of her fingers.
Mr Littleproud found love with the glamorous bank executive just months after splitting from his wife.
The last time the Ball was held in 2019 was before Covid existed.
At the Qantas table at the event, CEO Alan Joyce (who is not present tonight) hosted a then little-known British politician named Liz Truss.
This week Ms Truss was sworn in as Britain’s new Prime Minister.
Traditionally held in the third week of June each year, but postponed to spring this year due to the general election in May, the ball brings together Australia’s journalistic, political and business leaders.
With corporate sponsorships and an online auction, the ball has raised $4,453,000 for charity to date.
There’s more to come.