SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was caught on video downing a beer in a few seconds at a Sydney pub, prompting comparisons to another drink-chugging former leader and sparking a debate on social media.
The video, reportedly recorded on Saturday night, showed the leader knocking back a glass of Australia's Victoria Bitter in about six seconds as a large crowd surrounding him yelled "scull" repeatedly.
"Scull" is a slang term for drinking a glass of beer in one go.
Abbott was "proud as punch" when he grabbed a beer and "drank from head-to-toe the entire schooner (glass), dribbling little bits on his shirt", Simon Carrodus, an Australian Football Rules coach for the University of Technology, told the Australian Women's Weekly magazine.
Carrodus said his university's football club was holding an event at an eastern Sydney pub when they spotted the prime minister.
"I walked over to Tony and said 'will you come over and have a beer with the best players as part of the (club's) presentation'," he said.
"He said 'absolutely no problem'."
Abbott drew parallels with Bob Hawke, who was prime minister from 1983 to 1991 and was reputedly a world champion for drinking a yard-glass of beer, about three pints or 1.7 litres, in a record time of 11 seconds.
Now in his eighties, Hawke has stunned and delighted Australian cricket fans by sculling beers at several matches in recent years.
Abbott's glass was a schooner, which in New South Wales state where Sydney is located can hold 425 millilitres of liquid.
The prime minister, who last January warned of the dangers of binge drinking, was previously mocked by some for ordering a shandy - a half-beer, half-lemonade drink - during the 2010 general election.
Social media users debated Abbott's beer-drinking actions, with some suggesting he had used it to get a boost in opinion polls after surviving a leadership challenge in February.
"When Tony Abbott is so low on approval that he skulls a beer to try to make himself seem likable," one user wrote on Twitter, posting a picture of the leader at the pub.
— justanotweet (@justanotweet) April 19, 2015
— flyderspy (@flyderspy) April 19, 2015
Seems people upset Abbott drank a beer. I'm more concerned he wants to attack my wages & conditions so I can't afford to drink beer.#auspol
— Sir Bushranger Esq. (@grumpyshortpant) April 19, 2015
Others defended him.
"Abbott sculled a beer and now all the tut-tutters are out in force. I'm certain that there are bigger issues to deal with," said one tweet.
Good onya, dux : Australian PM Tony Abbott filmed downing a beer in only seven seconds http://t.co/K8cElHqlpc
— Deepak Mohoni (@deepakmohoni) April 19, 2015
— Amrit Raj (@AmritrajP) April 19, 2015
The conservative leader had been hit by poor polling, policy backflips and an unpopular budget last year. The upcoming budget announcement on May 12 has been touted as an important test of Abbott's leadership.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd recorded a lift in opinion polls in 2007 when the bookish then Labor candidate was exposed during the election campaign as having paid a drunken visit to a New York strip club several years before.