US President Joe Biden appeared to forget Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's name while announcing a new security partnership on Wednesday. The gaffe occurred during a virtual press conference in which UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison had joined Mr Biden to unveil the 'AUKUS' alliance through which America and Britain will help Australia build a nuclear-powered submarine fleet.
Mr Morrison spoke first at the conference, followed by Mr Johnson. Mr Biden then took the stage and thanked the UK prime minister for his introduction, saying "Thank you Boris".
But when he turned to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Mr Biden seemed to forget his name, leading to an awkward pause. "I what to thank...uh...that fella down under," the US President said. Mr Morrison replied: "Thank you very much pal. Appreciate it Mr Prime Minister."
Biden - “I want to thank that fella down under.”— Politics 2.0 (@0_politics2) September 15, 2021
He forgot the Australian Prime Minister's name ????♂️ pic.twitter.com/qQNNhsvCY4
Footage of the moment has gone massively viral on social media. It has been viewed thousands of times on Twitter, where #ThatFellaDownUnder became one of the top trends.
Media commentators were quick to remark on the blunder:
One Twitter user compared it to the awkward moment when one runs into an acquaintance but can't remember their name.
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
Australian author Tom Taylor was critical of the prime minister in his tweet
Another said the moment "made his day"
"Just a public speaking tip - if you're going to mention someone by name WRITE IT DOWN," a Twitter user advised.
just a public speaking tip - if you're going to mention someone by name WRITE IT DOWN HOW DID YOU NOT REMEMBER THE PRIME MINISTERS NAME “that fella down under…thank you pal” was honestly so embarrassing ????????????????♀️— Meegan ✨???? (@meeganlovescats) September 15, 2021
The new trilateral defence and security partnership between the UK, the US and Australia has been dubbed as "landmark" to protect and defend shared interests in the strategically vital Indo-Pacific region. It was launched with a joint televised address on Wednesday.
The first initiative under AUKUS will be a collaboration on future nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy, a capability aimed at promoting stability in the Indo-Pacific region.