President Biden addressed Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison as “that fella down under,” apparently, he forgot who he was talking to after briefly looking away from his prepared notes.
The memory issue came during an exchange between the two leaders and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson detailing a deal by the long-standing allies to help Australia acquire nuclear-powdered submarines.
“Thank you, Boris (Johnson), and I want to thank uh… that fella Down Under,” Biden said as he turned to the large screen Morrison was on.
“Thank you very much, pal… appreciate it, prime minister.”
The Australian Prime Minister politely smiled and gave a thumbs up.
Biden was described by social media users as “hopeless,” embarrassing,” and not up to the job’s demands.
The Twitter hashtag #THATFELLOWDOWNUNDER was quick to follow as various news outlets first digested the consequences:
The press conference was called to announce the new three-nation security pact called AUKUS, involving Australia, the UK, and the US.
The partnership will see both the UK. and the U.S. help Australia build a new fleet of nuclear submarines.
Morrison said included in the next 18 months is “an intense examination of what we need to do to exercise our nuclear stewardship responsibilities here in Australia.”
AFP reports nuclear power has been highly controversial in Australia, and Canberra formally banned the use of nuclear energy in 1998, though the country has rich deposits of uranium.
Morrison insists that Australia was “not seeking to establish nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability.”
“And we will continue to meet all of our nuclear non-proliferation obligations,” he added.
Morrison reassured allies in the region through a series of secret phone calls ahead of the announcement the decision was based on ensuring “security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.”
While Jacinda Aldern, leader of neighboring New Zealand, said the nuclear submarines would never be welcome in its national waters in a show of displeasure.