News National Turnbull cops nasty backlash for enjoying a beer with grandchild
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Turnbull cops nasty backlash for enjoying a beer with grandchild

Malcolm Turnbull and grandchild
What's all the fuss about? A tweeted picture of Malcolm Turnbull and his grandchild prompted a ludicrous social media debate about holding a baby while drinking a beer at the football. Most saw the photo for what it was, a tender moment. Photo: Twitter
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Australians everywhere have been left scratching their heads at how a touching photo of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull kissing his grandchild while sipping a lager at the footy ever generated an online scandal.

Mr Turnbull was labelled “irresponsible” and “disgusting” by several online commenters after posting a photo of him kissing his granddaughter’s forehead while holding a beer at Saturday night’s AFL clash.

The backlash turned nasty, with one troll saying he was “breathing grog all over” the baby.

But these comments were in the vast minority, raising questions of how it ever became a story in the first place.

An answer could be found in the media reportage itself. Despite most people reacting positively to the heartwarming photo, several media outlets chose to focus on the most vicious.

As of Sunday night, the most popular Facebook comments praised the PM and hit out at the trolls.

“Can you idiots give it a break for once,” one supporter wrote.

Another described it as “such a special photo”.

And one asked: “Have we truly become so cynical and politically biased that we cannot see this person as a dad and grandfather?

“Come on Australia, let’s not lose the values that have made us what we are renowned for worldwide.”

Labor leader Bill Shorten agreed the response was “rubbish”.

What made the small number of vitriolic comments all the more unusual was how starkly they contrasted with the response to the drinking of another former PM.

Bob Hawke

‘Hawkie’, as the former PM is affectionately known, won praise from blokes everywhere by skolling a glass of beer at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January.

bob hawke
Bob Hawke is a beloved beer drinker. Photo: Getty

It has become somewhat of a tradition to cheer Mr Hawke’s beer-drinking exploits at sporting events. It’s almost a yearly occurrence.

He is also famous for setting a new record during his time at Oxford University by drinking a 1.4-litre yard glass of beer in just 11 seconds.

Fearing the consequences, Mr Hawke swore off alcohol during his years in The Lodge. But he has happily returned to the habit in his retirement with Blanche d’Alpuget.

Earlier this year, he even lent his name to Hawke’s Lager, a new beer brand that donates a share of profits to Landcare Australia.

bob hawke
Bob Hawke proudly serves the first ‘Hawke’s Lager’. Photo: Getty

Landcare, set up by Mr Hawke when he was in office, is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes environmental management with land productivity and aims to support farming communities.

Tony Abbott a different story

While Hawkie may be a beloved drinker, Tony Abbott’s now infamous drinking session in 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis, is a different story.

It has long been rumoured that Mr Abbott missed a crucial vote on Kevin Rudd’s stimulus package because he was sleeping off a big night.

tony abbott beer
One, or two, for the road: Tony Abbott’s drinking in Parliament is legendary. Photo: Getty

After years of denials, he finally admitted the truth to the ABC.

“I think quite a few bottles of wine were consumed by the three of us,” he told Annabel Crabb in a recent episode of the ABC series The House.

Mr Abbott was referring to a boozy dinner with colleagues Peter Costello and Kevin Andrews in the parliamentary dining room.

“I think all of us were in a mellow and reflective mood, so the reflections went on for longer and later than they should have and the impact was rather greater than it should have been,” he said.

“I think I famously slept through several divisions.”

Even Mr Turnbull, opposition leader at the time, joined in the condemnations after the TV show went to air, slamming it as “clearly not acceptable or admirable in any way”.

It appears the beauty of the lager drinker is very much in the eye of the beholder.

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