WHEN Tony Abbott dressed up in a bomb disposal suit in Afghanistan last week, he was in no way chasing a photo opportunity.
Sure, there might have been a few cameras around as he donned the suit and transformed, afore the lens's gaze, into something resembling a confused bee-keeper.
But he wasn't doing it to get on the telly. Abbott was simply showing solidarity for bomb-defusers everywhere.
Advertisement: Story continues below It was a touching fraternal gesture that served visually to demonstrate his strong anti-IED stance.
And so when Abbott accused the Prime Minister yesterday of ''stalking world leaders looking for photo opportunities'', and urged her to ''come back to face the Australian people'', he wasn't being hypocritical.
He was, however, trying to remind everyone about the unpopular carbon tax, on a day when it looked suspiciously like the government was going to get its other tax - the mining one - through Parliament.
In such circumstances it seemed politic to turn the focus from what the Coalition is starting to realise is a popular(ish) tax, back to the carbon tax, which is so deadly that if it were a serial killer it would likely be Ted Bundy.
After delicate negotiation, some back-bending, and a goodly dash of taxpayer money-splashing, Gillard has managed to get the three key independents - Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Andrew Wilkie - to support the mining tax.
The biggest concession came in the form of funding for a body to examine coal seam gas projects.
Despite the collaborative nature of the process, all parties to this deal scrambled to claim credit, in a scrum every bit as undignified as a drunken bouquet-grab at the tail-end of a wedding full of single women.
''The government today moved to ensure that all future decisions about coal seam gas projects … are based on the most rigorous scientific evidence available,'' read Gillard's adorable ''it was totesalutely my own idea!'' press release.
''Oakeshott secures tighter control of CSG through mining tax,'' the Member for Lyne tweeted contrarily.
Meanwhile, the Coalition used question time to trash-talk Labor's carbon tax modelling.
Abbott insists the government wrongly assumed the US would also institute a carbon price.
Gillard wanted to talk mining tax. Abbott wanted to haul the conversation back to the uncomfortable fact that although the Prime Minister spent last week in a political snuggle with the US President, Barack Obama, our two nations are not exactly dancing cheek to cheek when it comes to climate change.
In fact, Obama's carbon-reduction measures amount to - whisper it - direct action.
And whether or not the Gillard government has bet the house on the US also pricing carbon (it hasn't), this plain fact is a little … awkward.
As awkward as Tony Abbott in a bomb suit.