When Tony Abbott walked into Sydney’s Royal Oak Hotel on Saturday night and downed that beer, he didn’t just put an end to all those jokes about his shandy drinking.
He sculled himself into Australia’s national consciousness.
It took less than ten seconds, but with those gulps, Abbott has joined Bob Hawke who has been impressing Australians with his ability to scull a beer for decades.
Hawkie famously set a world record for beer drinking at Oxford in the 50s. He has since observed that this more than anything else he did in his long career “was to endear me to some of my fellow Australians”.
The former Australian prime minister is not the only one to use a drink to connect with voters.
Last year Coalition MP Andrew Laming turned up at a constituent’s Australia Day party and sculled a beer upside down while doing a handstand. As a partygoer later posted online: “I seriously hate Liberal [sic], but … he found a loophole to my heart!”
I think that would get my vote also. Upside down is very hard.
Even away from the tricky stunts, we feel reassured when we see politicians with a beer in their hands. It’s what convinces us they’re real people, right? Hence all the concern when Abbott ordered a shandy with (oh my god) light beer on the campaign trail in 2010.
But now, Abbott has achieved the sort of publicity that you can’t plan for or buy.
Maybe Andrew Little should try one!