‘boudoir bandicoot’: meaning and origin

The Australian-English phrase boudoir bandicoot designates a promiscuous male.

The literal meaning of the noun bandicoot is: an insectivorous marsupial native to Australia. (This noun has been used in various Australian-English phrases denoting deprivation or desolation, such as (as) miserable as a bandicoot.)

The phrase boudoir bandicoot occurs, for example, in An inquiry into polly-paranoia, by Keith Dunstan, published in The Age (Melbourne, Victoria) of Wednesday 6th September 1989:

I like to keep a collection of epithets used by politicians. It varies from state to state. Queensland Parliament is often called the cess pit. In recent times we have had slimy bastard, police pimp, four-eyed ape, skink, sewer rat, flea-bitten bastard, and gutter dingo.
In NSW they get worked up a lot about crime, crooks and corruption. Wife basher, fraud, political prostitute and four letter words referring to excreta are popular.
In Victoria they like nitwit, yapping yahoo, senile, bulldust artist, little twerp, fat clown, guttersnipe and monumental twerp.
West Australia goes for running dog and weasels, but in Canberra you get a rich overall variety: stupid foul-mouthed grub, piece of criminal garbage, crook, cheat, wog, trams, bums, boudoir bandicoot, bungler, oran outang, insensitive ape, bastard and even “you great poofter”.

It was on Wednesday 21st September 1983, during a parliamentary debate, that Michael Hodgman (1938-2013), then Liberal Member of the Australian House of Representatives for Denison, Tasmania, coined the phrase boudoir bandicoot to describe Robert Hawke (1929-2019), then Leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Prime Minister of Australia.

This is the transcript of this debate—as published by the Parliament of Australia:

Mr Hodgman—The people of Australia are starting to wake up to this Prime Minister, this self-styled president of an Australian republic, this dictatorial little Caesar, this imposter and usurper.
As many would know, I am just a quiet country boy lost in a big city. But I am not much impressed by this public breast-beating about being a reformed alcoholic and a retired boudoir bandicoot. Slick theatrical performances and the ability to con, the capacity to juggle the truth—
Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Child 1)—Order! I ask the honourable member to withdraw the former remark that he made about the Prime Minister.
Mr Hodgman—Which one—‘reformed alcoholic’ or ‘retired boudoir bandicoot’?
Madam Deputy Speaker—Will the honourable member withdraw those words, please.
Mr Hodgman—I withdraw whichever you ask me to withdraw, Madam Deputy Speaker. Slick theatrical performances and the ability to con, the capacity to juggle the truth, to tell lies and to misrepresent the facts, do not impress me—
Mr Holding 2—I raise a point of order. The honourable member is—
Mr Hodgman—The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Holding) is a socialist, and he is trying to silence me.
Mr Holding—You are a disgrace to the Parliament and to the people of Tasmania. You are deliberately abusing the Standing Orders, and you know it.
Madam Deputy Speaker—Order! The Minister will resume his seat. The honourable member for Denison will withdraw his last remarks.
Mr Hodgman—I withdraw, Madam Deputy Speaker. Slick theatrical performances and the ability to con, and all these matters, do not impress me or the overwhelming majority of Australians. We see before us a charlatan, a usurper of power—
Mr Holding—I raise a point of order.
Madam Deputy Speaker—Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr Holding—I raise a point of order.
Mr Hodgman—The Minister has deliberately prevented me—
Mr Holding—I have stopped you—
Mr Hodgman—You are the voice of the Soviet Union. You ought to go back to the Soviet Embassy.
Madam Deputy Speaker—The honourable member’s time has expired. Please resume your seat.
Mr Holding—I ask the honourable member, Madam Deputy Speaker, to withdraw that statement.
Mr Hodgman—You ought to go back to the Soviet Embassy.
Madam Deputy Speaker—The honourable gentleman will please withdraw that remark.
Mr Hodgman—I will withdraw.
Madam Deputy Speaker—Thank you. Please resume your seat.
Mr Holding—Thank you very much.

1 The Labor politician Joan Child (1921-2013) was the first woman to be Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, from February 1986 to August 1989.
2 The Labor politician Clyde Holding (1931-2011) served as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs from March 1983 to July 1987.

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