Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is proud of his dirty shoes. On Twitter on Wednesday, he said his shabby sneakers are his “footwear of choice whenever I can get out of a suit.”
Morrison felt the need to clarify what type of shoes he wears in his free time because his office recently released a portrait of him and his family that accidentally featured the prime minister with two left feet.
The photo had quite clearly been doctored to show a pair of spotless white sneakers on Morrison’s feet, raising questions about what exactly his office was trying to hide. Unedited photos revealed the answer: his beat-up shoes.
A spokesman for the prime minister’s office told the Canberra Times that the doctored photo was “inadvertently published by the department.”
A government spokesman confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald that it was one staff member’s decision to change the prime minister’s shoes. “The decision was made by an officer in the graphic design team in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in developing design options for the Prime Minister’s Christmas card,” the spokesman told the newspaper.
Morrison responded on Twitter, saying he “didn’t ask for shoe shine, but if you must Photoshop, please focus on the hair (lack thereof), not the feet!” His website now features the original photo, dirty shoes and all.
The incident sparked a wave of responses on social media, where it was quickly named #shoegate. Many users tried their hand at Photoshopping white sneakers.
Morrison took office in August. He previously served as treasurer and minister of social services, as well as immigration minister. In that role, he helped design controversial policies that prevented asylum seekers from entering Australian ports by sea, instead holding them at offshore processing centers. He reportedly has a small figurine of a migrant boat in his office, decorated with the words, “I stopped these.”
It’s not a great moment for a gaffe, with parliamentary elections set for later this year and Morrison’s coalition faring poorly in polls. In November, the Guardian reported that his disapproval rating had jumped significantly in the course of just one month.
This is not Morrison’s first online misstep since taking office. In September, he posted a video on Twitter featuring the song “Be Faithful” by hip-hop artist Fatman Scoop. The song, which came out in 1999, has explicit lyrics. In the video Morrison posted, footage of lawmakers raising their hands in Parliament was accompanied by lyrics that said, “You got a hundred-dollar bill, get your hands up!”
Morrison later deleted the tweet and apologized.
“The full lyrics of the song used in my earlier video from QT today were just not OK,” he wrote on Twitter. “When I found out, I asked the team to take it down. Apologies.”