The knives were out at a St Patrick’s Day lunch when some of the country’s political leaders and their opponents found themselves at the same table.
Among the guests were Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, NSW Premier Kristina Keneally and her counterpart Barry O’Farrell.
“It’s great to see a bloke who loves his job, isn’t it? I’ll do my best to keep him in it for as long as I can,” Ms Gillard told the crowd of about 1300.
She also had a message for Mr O’Farrell.
“I hope you have more fun today than you do Saturday week,” she said in reference to the NSW state election.
After being presented with a set of stately looking silver knives, Ms Gillard said to the man who gave them to her: “I truly hope you aren’t giving Tony any knives today.”
Mr Abbott was given a set, wrapped and sealed in a box.
Ms Keneally said it was a great day for having an Irish surname.
“An election is soon ahead of us,” she said.
“The good news is that with one candidate called Keneally and the other named O’Farrell, the clear winner on March 26 would be the Irish.”
Mr Abbott used the occasion to poke fun at Ms Gillard, who on Monday argued that she was compelled to introduce a carbon tax because she was leading a minority government.
He said it was good to see the prime minister wearing the colour green “without any prompting from Bob Brown”.
When Ms Gillard took the floor, she pointed out Saint Patrick was born in Wales, where she hails from.
“You might be remembering St Patrick today for converting the Irish to Christianity,” she said.
“You might be remembering him because he is patron of half our Catholic schools.
“You might be remembering him just as you celebrate your Irish roots, but I am remembering him today because he was Welsh.”
She earlier told a joke about an Irish man turning up at a building site in Australia.
When the foreman told him he didn’t look like he knew a girder from a joist, the Irish man replied: “I most certainly do know my Goethe from my Joyce. Goethe wrote Faust and Joyce wrote Finnegans Wake.”
Billed the world’s biggest St Patrick’s Day lunch, 1300 people packed into the grand hall of Sydney’s Convention and Exhibition Centre on Thursday to pay homage to Ireland’s patron saint. It was hosted by the Lansdowne Club.