Turnbull on Sunday posted the photo on Facebook of himself with his granddaughter and the beer at an Australian Rules football match on the previous night in Sydney. Picture: Facebook

Sydney - A photo of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull holding his granddaughter in one hand and a cup of beer in the other has divided citizens, with some accusing him of being irresponsible and others, including his political rivals, jumping to his defence.

Turnbull on Sunday posted the photo on Facebook of himself with his granddaughter and the beer at an Australian Rules football match on the previous night in Sydney.

"Disgraceful holding a child with alcohol in hand!" one commenter, Marg Walker, wrote in response to post Turnbull titled "Multitasking at the footy."

"Teach the kids to drink a bevvy (beer) at the football at an early age. Great parenting..." another commenter wrote.

Another post, which has since been removed, criticized Turnbull for "holding a baby while juggling a beer," saying it was "disgusting to see people breathing grog all over the baby."

But many others defended the prime minister in the post that has since attracted 16,000 "likes" and more than 1,600 comments.

"I see a grandfather having a special moment with his grandchild at the footy. Now that's Aussie," Alma Anderson wrote.

Turnbull defended his post. "I think it's the craziness of social media when you see things like that," he told Sydney's Triple M radio on Monday.

"As long as you're comfortable in your own skin and you're just being yourself, being natural, that's all you can do."

Parliamentarians, including the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, also defended the prime minister.

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

"I think it's important that we say Australia is not a nanny state... It's ok to have your granddaughter in one hand and a beer in the other," Liberal senator James Paterson told reporters in Canberra.