A meeting between the top students in a national spelling bee and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has broken up in controversy.
What was meant to be a pleasant photo opportunity was cut short after a disagreement between Mr Morrison and the best performers in the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee held in June for students in years three to eight. (main picture)
At the meeting in the Prime Minister’s office at Parliament House in Canberra the students peppered Mr Morrison with some of the more difficult words they faced in the spelling contest.
In response Mr Morrison made an attempt at spelling each of the words and then claimed to have been correct each time.
He grew openly angrier as the students questioned the correctness of each of his answers.
“Nope. I got every single one correct,” he said bluntly to the students and dropping the friendly attitude he had showed to them when they first entered his office.
“I didn’t spell any of those words incorrectly. I always get every word I spell correct. You need to know and remember that.
“Besides, I don’t accept the premise of your questioning.”
At that point the visibly distressed students were ushed from the office by staff of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Speaking after the meeting, the students said it was wrong for Mr Morrison to claim he had correctly spelled every word they threw at him.
They said the Prime Minister had at best been only partly correct with certain words.
“We noticed that he got just a few letters of some particular words correct, and only if the words contained the letters L, I and E in that order,” one student said.
“We posed to him words such as clientele, gondolier, and sommelier and we noticed that the only part of each word he got right was the ‘lie’ bit.
“But we were playing by the spelling bee rules so we couldn’t concede that he was correct even though he gave himself full marks.”