Patient POTUS Meets With Another Australian Prime Minister

20/01/2016 1:47 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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US President Barack Obama and Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shake hands during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House January 19, 2016 in Washington, DC. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Barack Obama would be forgiven for complaining about carpal tunnel syndrome after shaking the hand of yet another Australian prime minister.

Malcolm Turnbull met with leader of the free world in Washington on Wednesday, making him Australia’s fourth prime minister to step into the Oval Office during Obama’s time as president. If you include Kevin Rudd’s brief return to the top job there’s technically been five, but he didn’t make it back to the White House.

However, there’s an added pressure for Australia’s 29th prime minister -- Turnbull has to compete with Gillard being a ‘great mate’, Abbott’s gifted long board and any other fond memories Obama has of the prime minister's predecessors.

The Huffington Post Australia reflects on the highlights and lowlights of Australian prime ministerial debuts in the Oval Office during Obama’s time as POTUS.

kevin rudd obama oval office

After Kevin 07 took the top job, Rudd scored an invite to the White House in March 2009. Discussing the global financial crisis and climate change, Obama described their talks as "a great meeting of the minds" .

"I'm very grateful for secretary, or for Prime Minister Rudd's friendship. He has been one of the, one of the people who I've called on various occasions to — right after the election, and repeatedly over the last several months," Obama told media.

"I think he's doing a terrific job, and I'm looking forward to partnering him for some years to come."

But it didn’t quite work out that way when Rudd was toppled by Gillard in 2010. Australia’s 27th prime minister became “great mates” with the leader of the free world when she was invited to the Oval Office in March 2011.

julia gillard obama

Giving Obama a Sherrin Aussie Rules football and teaching the President the appropriate AFL handball technique, the two discussed everything from world issues to Vegemite. The latter appeared to be the only topic they disagreed on during their two-hour discussion.

POTUS also invited Gillard to speak at a joint session of Congress which Obama claimed “a high honour that was reserved only for closest friends” after telling journalists he was “charmed” by Gillard when they met at the 2010 ASEAN and G20 summits.

“As Prime Minister Gillard said the first time we met, it's what's makes us 'great mates'.''

So when Rudd knifed Gillard in 2013 it wasn’t particularly surprising an invite back to the Oval Office never arrived at Kirribilli.

And the charm was left to Abbott when the former Coalition leader met with Obama in June 2014.

Talks with Australia’s 28th Prime Minister were deemed a success after Abbott gave POTUS a surfboard and offered defence assistance to the U.S.

However months later Abbott was "shirtfronted" by Obama, as the President campaigned for increased action on climate change in a speech during Brisbane’s G20 summit in November.

The Prime Minister suggested he wouldn’t contribute to the same global climate change fund Obama pledged $3 billion towards, but eventually announced a $200 million contribution.

But the two leaders put politics aside briefly to cuddle up to some of Australia’s most adorable national treasures.

obama g20 summit

One year later Obama met with Turnbull for bilateral talks as part of the APEC summit in the Philippines. But it was Australia’s current prime minister who appeared confused when offered an invite to the Oval Office.

"I'm going to say that I'm inviting you to the White House and I hope you can accept," Obama told Turnbull before the official talks began.

"That you're gonna?" Turnbull replied, slightly confused.

"I'm going to invite you to the White House ..."

Fourth time is a charm.

Obama and Aussie PMs

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