Saturday, May 5, 2012

Budgie Smuggling and Politicians

I recently posted an item about the Silly Hats Rule – that politicians should not be photographed in silly hats or swimming costumes. It can be read by clicking on the following link:

In that post I mentioned that Tony Abbot, the Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Parliament and head honcho of the Liberal Party, the likely future Prime Minister of Australia, has been frequently photographed in budgie smugglers.  This prompted an enquiry from overseas as to the meaning of the term.

The best definition is from the online Urban Dictionary:

Australian slang term for men's tight-fitting Speedo-style swimwear. The 'lump in the front' apparently resembles a budgie when it is stuffed down the front of someone's shorts. 

That definition, in turn, needs a glossary:

The swimwear company founded in Sydney, Australia in 1914. It now manufactures products that range from swimwear to goggles, watches and players. From the days when men’s swimming costumes were brief, rather than baggy, and because of the large market share of that company, swimming costumes were often generally referred to as “speedos”.
Short for budgerigar, a small colourful bird.
Although brief, tight fitting swimming costumes are also favoured by celebrities such as Rod Stewart, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karl Lagerfeld, the name by which such costumes are known in Oz - “budgie smugglers” – is first recorded as being used in the 1998 ABC TV series The Games, where John Clarke says:

Des Renford would regularly take on the English Channel, Bryan. He would drop his tweeds, pull on a pair of oversized budgie smugglers and he would drop a bomb off the white cliffs of Dover and start rolling his arm over.

A budgie smuggler gallery:

 NSW Opposition leader Peter Debnam, who lost the 2007 election and also the leadership (to current Premier Barry O’Farrell) was widely mocked for pictures of him emerging from the surf in budgie smugglers.

According to the 2007 National Times:
"Victorian state Liberal leader Ted Baillieu chose to spice up the 2007 election campaign by emerging from the sea clad only in a pair of swimming briefs to announce a coastal policy.  Baillieu happens to be a noted open-sea swimmer, but his effort was met by guffaws and howls of horror. The Age awarded him 'stunt of the year' and letters-to-the-editor columns were crammed with protests about his wardrobe malfunction."

An ad that says it all.

Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke at the Australian Labor Party Conference in Terrigal, 1975

and. . .
some pics of Tony Abbott with budgie smugglers:

It should be pointed out that Abbott is an accomplished athlete who completes iron man triathlons.

Portrait by John Murray

"I have worn budgie-smugglers but I think it's something politicians should be careful about.  Unless they're incredibly fit and athletic like Mr Abbott, he's a super athlete, he looks pretty good when he's out and about in his budgie-smugglers, but I prefer to be fully clad when I'm in the public eye."

-          Malcolm Turnbull, Member of Parliament and former leader of the Liberal Party.


  1. The budgie smuggler is an Aussie icon. If a politican is fit why shouldn't he don the great Aussie cossie.

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