'Gaffe machine' Joe Biden forgets Aussie PM's name, calls him 'fella down under'

'Gaffe machine' Joe Biden forgets Aussie PM's name, calls him 'fella down under'
Joe Biden has forgotten Aussie PM Scott Morrison's name (Photos by Drew Angerer and Rohan Thomson/Getty Images)

Scott John Morrison has been the prime minister of Australia since he took office in August 2018. The 30th prime minister was first elected to Parliament as the Federal Member for Cook in 2007. He has been a respected politician, who has previously served as treasurer, minister for social services and minister for border protection. But for Americans, he has now been immortalized as “that fella down under” thanks to President Joe Biden’s gaffe.

It would seem that Biden momentarily forgot Morrison’s name and had to resort to the aforementioned crude description to refer to the leader of Australia’s federal government. The blunder came as the Biden administration announced a trilateral security partnership with Britain and Australia, called AUKUS — Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference at Kirribilli House on July 16, 2021, in Sydney, Australia (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Through AUKUS, the three nations’ governments will strengthen the ability of each to support “security and defense interests, building on our longstanding and ongoing bilateral ties.” As per a media statement released by Morrison’s office, under this new partnership, Australia will be acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy, which will “leverage expertise from the United States and the United Kingdom, building on the two countries’ submarine programs to bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date.”

The development of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines will reportedly be a joint endeavor between the three nations, “with a focus on interoperability, commonality, and mutual benefit,” said Morrison’s office. AUKUS, per the Australian PM, will enhance “our joint capabilities and interoperability. These initial efforts will focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and additional undersea capabilities.”

The gaffe

During the historic announcement, Biden turned to British prime minister Boris Johnson to pay his gratitude for this new phase of cooperation. “Thank you, Boris,” he said. Then, looking towards a TV screen on which Morrison was appearing via video link, Biden said, “And I want to thank that fella down under. Thank you very much, pal.” He added, “Appreciate it Mr prime minister.”

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the end of the war in Afghanistan in the State Dining Room at the White House on August 31, 2021 in Washington, DC (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Morrison gave Biden a thumbs up. Biden, of course, soon fixed his error. “I’m honored today to be joined by two of America's closest allies, Australia and the United Kingdom, to launch a new phase of the trilateral security cooperation among our countries,” he said soon afterward. “As Prime Minister Morrison and Prime Minister Johnson said, I want to thank you for this partnership.” But it was a little too late.

“This bloke has keys to the nukes”

Back in 2018, when Donald Trump was president, Biden, while declaring himself as the “most qualified person in the country to be president,” admitted to his more-than-occasional faux pas. He said, “I am a gaffe machine, but my God what a wonderful thing compared to a guy who can’t tell the truth. I’m ready to litigate all those things. The question is: What kind of nation are we becoming? What are we going to do? Who are we?”

Of course, his self-awareness did not save the situation. Online, this became a butt of many jokes — some of which also involved Morrison’s other famous nickname. “Biden just laid the ‘Scotty From Marketing’ nickname to rest permanently. #ThatFellaDownUnder,” tweeted one person. The first nickname was reportedly originally assigned to Morrison by the satirical news website Betoota Advocate — a dig to his former role as a marketing executive.

One person commented, “Americans really know how to choose their Presidents!” Another said, “This is like watching one of those adverts for neglected donkeys. Please stop making Joe Biden be President. He just wants to lie down and eat some stewed apples.” One tweet read, “Biden just forgot our PM’s name. ScoMo is now just ‘that fella down under’. This bloke has keys to the nukes.”





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