Last financial year the federal government was the second-biggest advertiser in the country, spending $137 million. Only Coles Myer spent more, outlaying $207 million, according to The Oz.

This is a comparison which might lead one to wonder: what else do the now Myer-free Coles and the Federal Government have in common? And what can we draw from the fact that the two organisations most concerned with pushing a national advertising barrow are our most prominent basket-case retailer and a government suddenly verging on annihilation? Both are run by a man called John … that’s one thing.

Coles’ slogan is “save everyday”. Peter Costello says: “Ten years ago the Australian Government owed a net debt of $96 billion. Today we are debt free in net terms. And our net interest payments are zero. This is saving taxpayers $8.5 billion a year.” So Coles has better copywriters.

Oh! Of course … both are engaged in protracted takeover negotiations.