Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was caught in the middle of a social media storm after he posted a picture of himself holding his infant grandchild and a glass of beer during a football match over the weekend.

The image, posted on his Facebook page alongside the caption: "Multitasking at the footy", shows the leader kissing his granddaughter, Alice, on her forehead as he watched an Australian Rules game in Sydney.

The picture triggered criticism as some social media users took him to task for setting a bad example – that is, cradling his infant grandchild while drinking beer.

"Disgraceful holding a child with alcohol in hand!" wrote Marg Walker, while another comment branded the Australian leader "irresponsible".

One of the commentators slammed the PM for breathing alcohol-laden fumes near the baby's nostrils, the BBC reported.

It is "disgusting to see people breathing grog all over baby's [sic]", they said.

"Does anyone see anything irresponsible with an adult hold(ing) a baby and juggling a beer? And when was drinking while holding a child OK?" another social media user wrote.

However, as soon as the negative comments went viral, getting widely covered in Australian news media, Turnbull found some supporters too.

Most of the 1,700 comments about the picture on the Facebook page defended the Australian leader, saying they saw nothing wrong with his actions.

Some of them pointed out that such a scene is common in Australia – to enjoy an alcoholic drink in sporting stadiums.

"What a beautiful photo. Mr Turnbull has every right to nurse and enjoy cuddling his grandchild," wrote Jan Robertson.

Another user, Caroline Overington called the image "a beautiful shot".

"Such a special photo. The PM is entitled to a day of footy watching," another commenter, Leoni Freeman wrote.

Turnbull even got the support of his political opponent, Bill Shorten.

"I've found something Malcolm & I can agree on. This is rubbish. Let him be a grandpa," Shorten tweeted.

Another political opponent and a strong critic of Turnbull, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, said: "If anything this has made the Prime Minister look a bit more personable to the public," reported.

A government Senator Matthew Canavan, responded to the trolls with his own photo where is he pictured holding a baby on one hand and a beer bottle on the other.

By Monday, 11 September, the debate took a different direction, with some of the netizens slamming those who first started such a discussion.

"[The photo is] lovely, and all these keyboard warriors need to get a life!" wrote Fiona Deegan, a commenter.

"Have we truly become so cynical and politically biased that we cannot see this person as a Dad, Grandfather," another Facebook user wrote.

Breaking his silence on Monday, 11 September, Turnbull played down the debate and dismissed the "crazy trolls".

"I think it's the sort of craziness of social media that you see things like that," Turnbull told local radio station Triple M.

"I think you have to be yourself. As long as you are comfortable in your own skin, and you are just being yourself. Being natural. That's all you can do.

"Anything else and you end up being as crazy as some of the trolls on twitter."