The Aussie prime minister has set off a flurry of editorials and articles from Jakarta to Washington.
The wink – Mr Abbott’s response while listening to a 67-year-old talkback radio caller who said she was working on an adult sex line to supplement her pension and pay her healthcare bills – initially took off on social media and has now made mainstream headlines.
US newspaper The Washington Post said that nine months into his new job, Mr Abbott was “quickly becoming one of the world’s most hated prime ministers”.
“He just unveiled a draconian austerity budget that analysts call the most extreme and least popular of the past four decades in Australia,” Washington Post reporter Terrence McCoy wrote.
“His approval rating has plunged to 30 per cent.
“And then there’s the irreverent hashtag #MorePopularThanAbbott, which suggests that both toilet paper and flat tires are more popular than the prime minister.”
The Jakarta Post newspaper said in its editorial on Friday: “In the eyes of many Indonesians, the (Australian) PM is not averse to being insensitive.”
Relations between Indonesia and Australia have been strained since the election of the Abbott government, over presidential phone-tapping allegations and the policy of turning back asylum-seeker boats.
Treasurer Joe Hockey brushed off the Post’s criticism on Friday, pointing to a New York Post piece that was more favourable.
“I think it was the New York Post that praised it as a magnificent budget and an illustration of what governments have got to do around the world to prevent going down the path of austerity measures,” Mr Hockey said.
“So you have one editorial from one newspaper, I’ll have another editorial from another newspaper. What matters is the policy.”
The Huffington Post labelled the wink “creepy”, while Britain’s Telegraph described the PM as a “gaffe-prone leader”.
The New Zealand Herald said it was like “an adolescent schoolboy encountering a naughty word during an English Lit class”.
America’s CNN, Fox and NBC affiliates were among the media organisations to air the wink footage.
Mr Abbott has admitted it was a mistake.
But he’s refusing to accept that not declaring a “chairman’s scholarship” for his daughter Frances is a mistake.
The prime minister accused journalists of “dirt digging” over reports that Frances was given a $60,000 scholarship to a Sydney design institute chaired by a Liberal Party donor and long-time friend Les Taylor.
“I think families should be left out of it,” he said.