As Scott Morrison rubs shoulders with US President Donald Trump at the White House, there are many customs the Australian prime minister will have to observe – but there is one tradition that is more than just ceremonial pompous.
The long-observed tradition of exchanging diplomatic gifts has seen some unusual presents change hands over the years.
President Barack Obama was gifted an insurance policy against crocodile attacks, although it’s unclear how much use he would have got out of it.
Former prime minister Tony Abbot gave the Prime Minister of Japan footwear that every self-respecting Aussie should own – a pair of R.M. Williams boots.
The leaders gladly staged a fashion shoot in the iconic Aussie item in 2014 for Mr Abbot’s social media account.
Meanwhile former leader Malcom Fraser went down the practical route when choosing a gift for then US president Ronald Reagan and gave the avid horseback rider a stockman saddle made in Queensland.
Although choosing a gift for the man or woman who may seem to have it all is a big ask, there are rules the Aussie prime minister must follow.
All gifts must be declared and there is a limit of $750 for Heads of Government – to make sure we don’t feel the pinch too much.
Just as all travellers have to stick to strict quarantine laws of the country they are visiting, Mr Morrison had to do the same.
Although the PM’s website described Australia as “not traditionally a gift-giving country”, Canberra acknowledges good manners are worth their weight in gold – so our ministers are encouraged to take “a more modest approach to such exchanges”.
It can be a tricky balance to find a gift that is thoughtful, humble and has cultural significance, but ScoMo may have managed it this time.
The prime minister gave Mr Trump a statuette of an Aussie legend with ties to the US, a bronze figurine of soldier Leslie “Bull” Allen.
Bull not only has a cool nickname but he also saved a dozen American lives during the World War Two in the Battle of Mount Tambu in New Guinea in 1943.
Allen was born in Ballarat in 1916 and volunteered for overseas service.
The humble labourer was deployed to war zones to serve as a stretcher-bearer where in a single day, on July 30, he personally rescued 12 unconscious and wounded American soldiers.
Mr Trump and ScoMo discussed the legend who was awarded a United States Silver Star for his efforts during their first phone call and again at the G7 summit.
The bronze statuette of Bull was made especially for Mr Trump and created by Australian artist Scott Edwards from Mudgee.
It symbolises the story of mateship and bonds that tie the Australia and the United States together.
The First Lady and offspring, Barron Trump, did not miss out either, they received personalised gifts, but they were not allowed to outshine Mr Trump’s gift, according the PM’s site.
“Its value should be equivalent to or less than the value of the gift to the principle,” the site said.
Melania Trump received a classic pair of yellow gold stud earrings by Paspaley, featuring baroque Australian South Sea Keshi Pearls from Western Australia.
Keen soccer fan Barron Trump scored a personalised Socceroos jersey.
And if Mr Trump doesn’t care for his thoughtful gift?
It will be up to ScoMo and his staff to “responsibly dispose of the gift”.
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