Scott Morrison has been called many things, but “that fella down under” may be the one that stays with the Australian prime minister the longest.
The blunder came as the US president, Joe Biden, announced a trilateral security partnership with Britain and Australia, called Aukus. It will see the US share nuclear technology that will help Australia create a multibillion-dollar fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.
During the historic announcement, Biden turned to the British prime minister to pay his gratitude for this new phase of cooperation.
“Thank you, Boris,” he said.
Watch in full: Biden, Johnson and Morrison announce Aukus and nuclear-powered submarine deal – video
Then, looking towards a TV screen on which Morrison was appearing via video link, Biden appeared to hesitate.
“And I want to thank that fella down under. Thank you very much pal,” Biden said. He added: “Appreciate it Mr prime minister.”
Morrison did the only thing you could: he gave Biden a thumbs up.
The US president eventually got it right.
“I’m honoured today to be joined by two of Australia’s closest allies, Australia and the United Kingdom, to launch a new phase of the trilateral security cooperation among our countries,” he said moments later. “As prime minister Morrison and prime minister Johnson said, I want to thank you for this partnership …”
But it was too late. The damage was already done.
It didn’t take long for #thatfelladownunder to start trending on Twitter.
It’s embarrassing enough when someone forgets your name while speaking to you.
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It’s another thing if they forget your name while addressing the global press with a historic trade deal.
Surely “That fella Down Under” is the equivalent of running into someone in the pub whose name you can’t remember and can only come up with “Maate”.
— Kirstin Ferguson (@kirstinferguson) September 15, 2021
Others were more interested in what Morrison had to say about the deal.
Morrison said the agreement with the US and UK is a “forever partnership for a new time between the oldest and most trusted of friends”.
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“A forever partnership that will enable Australia to protect our national security interests, to keep Australians safe. And to work with our partners across the region to achieve the stability and security of our region,” he said.
“forever partnership”– who said it, ScoMo or that one couple you and your mates follow on Instagram to make fun of?
— Sarah Krieg (@sarah_krieg) September 16, 2021