Abbott's wink could show a shared secret, or not

ONLY two people know what Tony Abbott was really doing when he was caught winking during a radio show this week, according to body language expert Allan Pease.

Mr Pease, a Buderim resident, said Mr Abbott's wink, which sparked outrage across the world, could have meant any number of things.

"We like to jump to conclusions," he said.

One newspaper in Britain ran the heading, "What a winker".

However, Mr Pease said we all might have been too quick to judge.

"In this case, though, it is difficult because we could see only one of the two people in the studio," he said.

Mr Abbott was fielding Budget questions from presenter Jon Faine on Melbourne ABC talkback.

A caller, who gave her name as Gloria, provided him with her CV.

She said she was 67, had three incurable illnesses, two of them life-threatening, and got by on $400 a fortnight.

She also said she had to work on an adult sex line to make ends meet.

That's when fate - and the urge to wink - struck Mr Abbott.

Mr Pease said Mr Abbott might have been presented with "any number" of reactions to the caller's comments, none which could be seen on camera.

"It doesn't look good, but there's a lot of variables here," he said.

Mr Pease said winks usually indicated a shared secret, often between two people.

He said there had been ramifications for other high-profile people who had winked.

After the Dallas assassination of US President John F Kennedy, Airforce One was carrying the President's body back to Washington DC when an associate of Vice-President Lyndon Johnson was seen winking at him.

That wink gave rise to conspiracy theories.

And in a European Cup football match between Portugal and England in 2006, Cristiano Renaldo went down and England striker Wayne Rooney was sent off.

Renaldo was caught winking at teammates as he walked back to play on.

Mr Pease said winking meant different things to different cultures.

He said in Germany, a prolonged wink was the sign to a prostitute that there was interest from a customer.

He said in some cultures, winking was associated with flirting and flirtatious behaviour.

"How Mr Abbott's wink was interpreted across the world is another thing altogether," he said. "I can't really comment on that."

Topics:  radio sexism sex worker tony abbott

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