The Prime Minister is engaged and the conspiracies have begun.

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The Prime Minister's getting married. Quick, go buy a hat.

There's reason to be excited about this news. A divorced, engaged PM messes with long-established narratives.

Once upon a time, you wouldn't get to be Prime Minister unless you were already married. Unmarried people just couldn't be trusted, and a wife (because yes, the PM would be male, and straight) was both a campaign asset and a signal of stability.

Albo isn't Australia's only unmarried PM. We had Julia Gillard. And in the 1960s there was John McEwan, who was newly widowed when he took office. But otherwise, there's a very long list of married men, over and over, moving their often long-suffering wives into the Lodge.

There's no Aussie precedent for a PM proposal story, though. Or a PM-designed ring, and a very Wills-and-Kate-like press walk where the details must be provided to reporters in a garden. And there's not really precedent for a politician looking so bloody, unquestionably happy, in the middle of doing a very stressful job at a very stressful time.

Watch: engagement ring trends through the decades. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

I didn't get it. Why add a thing to your plate, I thought, when it's already overflowing? Why complicate your narrative, I thought, and distract everyone with questions about dates and invites when surely you want to be focused on delivering your tax cuts and pressuring for a Middle Eastern ceasefire and fending off your political opponents and yes, getting elected again next year.


Who's got the time, I thought, for designing rings and planning romantic proposal dinners and synchronising calendars to find a window to meet a planner who just loves the idea of a winter wedding at Kirribilli?

And mostly, as a grown-up woman who lives with her partner of almost 20 years and has never wanted to get married, I thought – why do you need to do that, when there are just so many other things that need doing? Isn't you two just loving each other and choosing each other every day enough?

And then I listened to my ridiculous inner-monologue, and I realised something. I've lost touch with the bit of myself that can see the point of doing something that doesn't need doing, but might just be beautiful and important and profound. Something that might mean the world to someone else. Something that might just bring a big dollop of joy to a lot of people who matter to you.

Albo hasn't. He's 60 years old (not old, but older than me) and still in touch with the goofy, heady, rollercoaster feeling of having the person you love love you back. He's got a lot on his plate and he wants to add some more, please.

I only saw – and I think a lot of overwhelmed women might relate – the work involved in doing something big just because. I found myself looking for angles and advantages to all that fuss and trouble. Was this a good strategy for humanising the man the Liberals are currently trying to smear as dishonest? Is the smart and accomplished Haydon a positive addition to the Albanese brand?

It didn't occur to me that this major personal decision might have nothing to do with work. That perhaps this is an example of something we all need more of in our leaders – humanity. That leading a country and having a fulfilling personal life is possible, desirable. That spending an evening eating an overpriced set menu and telling each other how lucky you are to have found each other is not a dereliction of duty but the kind of thing that ordinary people do on Valentine's Day, sometimes. And ordinary people make good leaders, because they get what matters to other ordinary people, like the ones they're making decisions about every day.


I'd been feeling so smug, too. I bought my partner Brent a card this year. I don't always. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I make him one. Sometimes we do something. Usually we don't.

But this year, I walked past a shop, saw the right one, and bought it. Left it for him as I drove away early for work, with a ribbon around a bar of his favourite chocolate.

"If I bought this for my husband," the woman behind the card counter said. "He'd fall off his chair."

Look at me, I thought. Romantic. Appreciative. Thoughtful.

And then, a day later, look at me. Why is the Prime Minister getting married? What machiavellian plot is this?

I don't understand proposals and engagements and weddings, but I do understand that it matters, making sure the people you love know all about it.

And I'm hoping a bar of chocolate might be enough. Who's got time, after all, for all that romance stuff.

Oh. Only the busiest man in the country.


Feature Image: AAP.

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