AUSTRALIA POLITICS: Trump to Turnbull: ‘You’re Worse than Me’

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By Politicoscope August 4, 2017 18:12
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In the call, Mr Trump displayed no knowledge of Australia’s immigration policy and the reasons for the detentions on Nauru and Manus. “What is the thing about boats, why do you discriminate about boats?’ The president says to Mr Turnbull.

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AUSTRALIA POLITICS: Trump to Turnbull: ‘You’re Worse than Me’

Donald Trump told Malcolm Turnbull he was “worse than I am” on immigration policy, during their tense telephone call in January. The US President meant the quip as a compliment when in a call dominated by Mr Trump’s displeasure at the refugee-exchange deal struck between the Prime Minister and Barack Obama.

The Washington Post last night published transcripts of Mr Trump’s talks with Mr Turnbull and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Cabinet minister Josh Frydenberglater said Mr Turnbull “stood up for Australia’s interests” during a tense phone call with US President Donald Trump in January.

Mr Trump believed Australia would be sending hardened criminals and terrorists to the United States from Nauru and Manus Island because they were in ‘a prison,’ according to the transcript.

In the call, Mr Trump displayed no knowledge of Australia’s immigration policy and the reasons for the detentions on Nauru and Manus.

“What is the thing about boats, why do you discriminate about boats?’ The president says to Mr Turnbull.

“Why haven’t you let them out, why have you not let them into your society?

The transcript shows Mr Turnbull politely but firmly pushing the president to accept the refugee resettlement deal despite Mr Trump warning that they will become future terrorists.

“I do not want any more San Bernardino’s (terror attack) or World Trade Centers … I look so foolish doing this. I know it is good for you but it is bad for me. “Malcolm why is this so important, I do not understand. This is going to kill me.”

“I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would never have made. It is an embarrassment to the United States of America … this is the most unpleasant call all day.”

When Mr Turnbull explains how Australia does not resettle refugees who arrive by boat Mr Trump says “You’re worse than I am.”

Produced by White House staff, the documents provide an unfiltered glimpse of Mr Trump’s approach to the diplomatic aspect of his job, subjecting even a close neighbour and longstanding ally to streams of threats and invective as if aimed at US adversaries.

The January 28 call with Mr Turnbull became particularly acrimonious. “I have had it,” Mr Trump erupted after the two argued about the refugee agreement.

Though Australia is one of the US closest allies, Mr Trump’s call with Mr Turnbull was even more contentious than that with Mr Pena Nieto.

The Prime Minister opened by noting he and Mr Trump have similar backgrounds as businessmen turned politicians. Mr Trump inquired about a mutual acquaintance, the golfer Greg Norman.

But the conversation devolved into a blistering exchange over a US agreement to accept refugees from Australian detention centres on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island and Nauru. The Obama administration had agreed to accept some of those being detained on humanitarian grounds after intervention by the UN.

At one point, Mr Trump expressed admiration for Australia’s refusal to allow refugees arriving on boats to reach its shores, saying it “is a good idea. We should do that too.”

But the conversation rapidly deteriorated.

“I hate taking these people,” Mr Trump said. “I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people” — an apparent reference to US dairy farms.

Mr Turnbull tried to salvage the deal, noting that the detainees were economic refugees who had not been accused of crimes. He explained that they were being denied entry into Australia because of a policy aimed at discouraging human smuggling.

“There is nothing more important in business or politics than a deal is a deal,” he said. “You can certainly say that it was not a deal that you would have done, but you are going to stick with it.”

Mr Trump only became angrier, saying the refugees could “become the Boston bomber in five years”. “This is going to kill me,” he said to Mr Turnbull. “I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2000 people.”

The agreement reached by the Obama administration called for the US to admit 1250 refugees, subject to security screening.

A White House readout of the Trump call, issued at the time, said only that the two leaders had “emphasised the enduring strength and closeness of the US-Australia relationship.”

“I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would have never made,” Mr Trump said. “As far as I am concerned, that is enough, Malcolm. I have had it.”

Mr Turnbull tried to turn to Syria and other subjects. But Mr Trump refused.

The call, which began at 5.05pm, ended 24 minutes later with Mr Turnbull thanking the still-fuming Mr Trump for his commitment.

“You can count on me,” Mr Turnbull said. “I will be there again and again.”

“I hope so,” Mr Trump said ­before saying thank you and hanging up.

PM ‘stood up for Australia’
In the conversation with Mr Trump, Mr Turnbull discussed a deal with the Obama Administration to for the US take up to 1200 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru.

Mr Frydenberg said it was clear that the Prime Minister had reiterated the principal motivation behind Australia’s border protection policies, namely “to prevent those evil people smugglers having a product to sell” by ensuring those who attempted to come to Australia illegally would never be resettled here.

“The Prime Minister also reiterated that the President and the United States obviously had a process where they could vet those who were to come to the United States and then that would continue and that would be an option for the President,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News.

Mr Frydenberg said the perception that Mr Turnbull told Mr Trump he only had to “go through the motions” of honouring the deal was “absolutely wrong”.

“The Prime Minister stood up for Australia’s interests,” he said.

“He stood up for the deal that he had agreed with the Obama Administration, and he made that point very forcefully as we already knew about that conversation with the President, and quite clearly that is what we expect of our Prime Minister and that is what he has done.”

Mr Frydenberg denied that Mr Turnbull showed a lack of empathy for the asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.

“We had an issue here in Australia that we came to government to solve which was the fact of 50,000 unauthorised boat arrivals,” he told ABC TV.

“The Prime Minister reiterated in that phone call to the President that our principal strategy here is to deny the evil people smugglers a product to sell.

“If (the refugees) get to settle in the United States, they will have a better life.”

One Nation senator Pauline Hanson said she could understand Mr Trump’s anger about the deal.

“Trump said these people are bad,” Senator Hanson told the Nine Network.

“He’s right. They were bad. That’s why we didn’t allow them into our country.”

“Why would he take 2,000 of our people without saying, OK mate, you are going to take 5,000 of ours.”

– Australian



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By Politicoscope August 4, 2017 18:12
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There are more readers worldwide reading the Politicoscope daily news content than ever before. Unlike many other news media organisations that charge their readers subscription fees for the same daily news content and features we offer you for free, we do not charge all our readers to pay any fee. We depend on online advertising to generate the revenues to fund all these great news content and exclusive features provided to you for free. Currently, advertising revenues are quickly falling which is affecting our ability to offer you free online news content.
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