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‘That fellow from Down Under’ — Aussies cringe as Biden appears to forget PM’s name

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September 16, 2021


2:46 am

SYDNEY — Pal. Fellow Down Under. Hey … you.

Sure, Washington, London and Canberra have just signed a huge new defense pact. But what Australians are talking about is U.S. President Joe Biden appearing to forget their prime minister’s name.

Biden announced the new AUKUS military alliance with Britain and Australia to share advanced technologies, including the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines, at a press conference on Wednesday. He was flanked by television screens beaming in U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian PM Scott Morrison at their own press conferences.

“Thank you Boris,” Biden said to the British PM. He then turned to the screen featuring Morrison, saying: “And I want to thank that fellow Down Under. Thank you very much, pal. Appreciate it, Mr. Prime Minister.”

Biden did subsequently address Morrison by name, and a White House official pointed out that the president had most recently spoken with the Australian prime minister on September 2.

Regardless, the Australian media jumped on the apparent slip-up, with the Australian, 9 News, news.com.au, Sky News and others zeroing in on it.

But Biden isn’t the first world leader who needed help remembering the Australian prime minister. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was photographed flipping through a crib sheet featuring a photo and notes on Morrison when she met him at a G20 summit in 2018.

Morrison is Australia’s fifth PM since 2013.

Morrison is due to arrive in the U.S. later this month for the so-called Quad summit, also including the leaders of India and Japan, which will be the first in-person meeting with Biden and his Australian counterpart in their current roles.

Natasha Korecki contributed to this story.

This story has been updated.

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