Andrew Laming, Facebook

The Facebook image of Andrew Laming skolling a beer while doing a handstand.

Andrew Laming is many things. He's a former GP, ophthalmologist, Harvard graduate and qualified personal trainer.

Since 2004, he has been the Liberal National Party member for the Queensland seat of Bowman and his own website says he is ''Australia's most innovative user of social media in politics''.

While Laming may not be the best-known Coalition backbencher, he is no stranger to the odd controversy.

On Facebook last year, the doctor MP wondered if it was ''OK to be overweight'' as the ''average'' Australian woman was 163 centimetres and weighed 70 kilograms.

He has garnered attention for ''liking'' the Facebook page titled: ''How's Julia Gillard going to run the country from the kitchen?''

And this week, Laming was back on the ''what the?!'' radar for the way he observed Australia Day.

It all started when the member for Bowman made an offer (via his infamous Facebook page) to deliver lamingtons to constituents' parties. We could stop the story here and note with a delighted hoot that yes, Laming was handing out lamingtons (!) But that's not the issue.

Amid about 12 parties the MP attended on Sunday, he turned up at a barbecue on Brisbane's bayside. Here, watched by about a dozen young people in their early 20s, Laming skolled a beer while doing a handstand.

The incident would have gone unnoticed had one attendee not uploaded a picture of the upside-down act to Facebook (noting that he seriously hated ''Liberal'' but Laming had ''found a loophole to my heart!'')

It is probably stating the freaking obvious to say the photo didn't stay confined to Facebook for long.

It travelled the social media before it made the mainstream media with headlines like ''Liberal MP skolls beer upside down''.

Official reactions were not encouraging. When Tony Abbott was asked about the skoll, the Prime Minister told reporters: ''Look, it wouldn't be how I would choose to celebrate Australia Day.''

On Tuesday, among other interviews, Laming was summoned by an even scarier figure - 3AW presenter Neil Mitchell - to explain himself. ''I decided to do an age-old trick which is drinking a small plastic cup of beer while doing a handstand,'' the MP said.

''Why?'' Mitchell shot back, exasperation a-go-go.

''Well, it's something a little bit different,'' Laming replied, before explaining that to do the trick: ''You do a handstand … [then] you just basically press down, pick up the cup and finish it off''.

''I've also done lamingtons and Vegemite sandwiches the same way to raise money for charity.''

While the incident may possibly raise questions about responsible drinking, Laming insisted he had only consumed a small amount (100 millilitres) of beer. ''Idiots'' (to use Mitchell's term) would not be encouraged to follow suit with dangerous amounts of booze, the MP said, because ''most people simply know they can't do it [the trick]''.

But Mitchell was determinedly unimpressed, and asked twice if Laming considered the beer stunt to be dignified.

''Yes,'' Laming said, without hesitation. ''I think people need to get over the issue that politicians have to be role models not drinking anything, not saying anything interesting or humorous.''

This week, political debate has devoted much attention to the question of balance - be it on asylum seeker information or the ABC's ''un-home team'' coverage.

But there is also the question of balance between our politicians being responsible and professional and having some sort of personality.

We - the media, the public - complain more and more that MPs just recite the talking points, don't think for themselves and only care about maintaining a Teflon image. And yet we are quick to leap on anyone who diverts from the script.

Consider Tony Abbott, who is making a concerted effort to keep up his ''real person'' life. There is a simmering sense of ambivalence in political circles that he continues to live in the suburban family home and go fire-fighting and lifesaving. Is this really befitting of the serious job of the Prime Minister?

It's not a double standard, but two standards confusingly operating at the same time.

Laming's case demonstrates the weird relationship that social and online media now play in public proceedings. At one level, Facebook et al allow politicians and the people to engage with each other, or at least have a closer look at what the other side is doing.

But they also magnify quirks and turn them into exclamation-mark news events before anyone's had a chance to think about it. In turn, this makes MPs more cautious about what they do and say.

Some of Laming's past controversies are not worth applauding one little bit.

But the upside-down beer? Even if you didn't think it was awesome, it wasn't harmful, it wasn't offensive and it wasn't done on the floor of Parliament.

Judith Ireland is a Fairfax Media journalist.