Prime Minister Tony Abbott winked and smirked, when a 67-year-old radio caller told him she works on a sex-hotline to make ends meet.
A spokesperson later said the wink was to assure the presenter to proceed with the call.
But the damage was done.
Justin Brosnan reports.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott shooting a wink to the radio host when hearing the distressed pensioner’s story.
Talkback caller 1: “And I work on an adult sex line to make ends meet.”
Realising the camera was on him, his expression quickly changed.
But the gaffe was soon across social media and news websites.
Mr Abbott admitted the budget was a huge gamble but again argued his Government had no choice.
Tony Abbott, Prime Minister: “We have only taken these big political risks because we think it is absolutely necessary for the long term strength of our country.”
He dangled the carrot of future tax cuts, if the hard decisions are taken now.
Tony Abbott, Prime Minister: “We would not have been putting ourselves in political jeopardy if we didn’t think it was absolutely necessary to change the country for the better.”
Angry callers came thick and fast.
Talkback caller 2: “The people that do use bulk billing are the ones that can’t afford it. I think it’s a really mean thing to do. This is clearly picking on people who can’t afford it and are needy.”
Talkback caller 3: “What do you suggest I cut out Mr Abbott? Food, electricity, firewood, Christmas, birthday presents to my grandchildren? Or should we all just die and get out of your way?”
Still smiling, the Prime Minister concluded his radio appearance.
Tony Abbott, Prime Minister: “This is a tough grilling from the public.”
Justin Brosnan, QUT News.