Angela Merkel needs cheat sheet to recognize Australian PM | News | DW | 03.12.2018
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Angela Merkel needs cheat sheet to recognize Australian PM

Angela Merkel resorted to a cheat sheet at the G20 as she faced the fifth Australian prime minister in as many years. Australia's two main political parties are notorious for stabbing their leaders in the back.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel needed illustrated assistance to identify Australia's prime minister at the Argentina G20 meeting.

Australia has burned through so many prime ministers in recent years that Merkel openly resorted to a page of notes with a headshot as she sat next to Scott Morrison for a short bilateral meeting. After studying her notes for some time she started the conversation, during which she frequently checked her watch.

Morrison became the 30th prime minister of Australia in August after a botched attempt by Peter Dutton to replace Malcolm Turnbull. In the ensuing leadership battle, Turnbull resigned and low-profile Morrison scooted ahead to take power while Dutton failed.

Morrison's victory was widely compared to Australian speed skater Steven Bradbury's performance at the 2002 Winter Olympics, where the comprehensively outclassed athlete won gold when all other competitors crashed in a heap in two consecutive races.

Morrison is the fifth leader of the country in as many years and the sixth that Merkel has had to deal with.

World leaders often use fact sheets at international meetings, but they are normally hidden from the public and discarded before meeting face to face. To make matters worse, the incident came just a day after Morrison met with US President Donald Trump, who asked him publicly what had happened to Turnbull.

Opinion: G20 teetering on the edge of the abyss

Merkel holds a fact sheet on Scott Morrison

The text of the fact sheet was unfortunately illegible

'Merkel simply couldn't be bothered'

The chief political correspondent for respected Australian newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald opined that the incident was completely relatable for Australians, many of whom struggle to keep up with the fast-paced turnaround of prime ministers.

"Australians can probably relate to Merkel's predicament because they are going through the same process. Who's this again?" David Crowe wrote.

The diplomatic editor of Guardian Australia wrote: "The real worry for Australia is that operating on the principle that 'there will be another one along in a minute,' Merkel simply couldn't be bothered."

Morrison was roundly mocked on Australian social media after the affair, with many users imaging cruel things the fact sheet might have said or expressing solidarity with Merkel.


Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham dismissed the diplomatic faux pas, saying Merkel's staff simply wanted to make sure "that the Chancellor was properly informed."

Watch video 01:57

Scott Morrison becomes Australian PM

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