Christine Holgate before the Senate inquiry (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

For Christine Holgate, the new patron saint of downtrodden female executives, it was all black and white.

At the Senate inquiry into her ousting as Australia Post chief yesterday, she and her supporters (and even former detractors) wore suffragette white as Holgate spectacularly painted her male enemies -- from her former chairman to the prime minister -- as blackest black.

Yet the air in the theatre that was yesterday was actually thick with grey -- a fog of changing attitudes, differing perceptions, gender wars, secret government reports and, above all, the stench of hypocrisy from all sides of politics.