The Washington Post has just published an extraordinary story detailing a phone call between Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and President Trump over Turnbull’s desperation to save his refugee deal with the United States where they would take 1250 of Australia’s refugees in our offshore dentition centers. Trump is reported to have blasted Turnbull over his insistence on proceeding with the deal stating to Turnbull “This is the worst deal ever,” and he is “going to get killed” politically and the deal could potentially see the United States import the “next Boston bombers.”
The phone call was scheduled to go for an hour however it ended after 25 minutes after the blow up over the refugee deal with Trump stating “This was the worst call by far.” Trump had spoken with four other leaders that day including Russian President Vladmir Putin. If the phone conversation is accurate then Turnbull desperate to score a domestic political win with this refugee deal has seriously damaged Australia-United States relations and is another example of Turnbull’s poor political judgement.
Turnbull has never been a fan of Trump as demonstrated by his press conference following Trump’s election where he aimed to reassure everyone that relations between the two nations would not change and when asked by Leigh Sales before the election whether it would be fair to say he would prefer to work with a Clinton Administration than a Trump Administration he replied ‘you may very well think that but I couldn’t possible comment’.
The fact that it looks like Trump might have a better relationship with Russia than Australia is cause for great alarm. Especially since it is over a deal which most Australians wouldn’t care if it goes ahead or not as long as these alleged refugees are not allowed to settle in Australia. The political fallout will be huge from this, especially after he is already coping political heat over his $1.75 million donation to the Liberal Party during the election campaign.
Laura Jayes from Sky News has confirmed with sources from inside the Prime Minister’s office that the conversation did take place as the Washington Post reported. Jayes also added that Trump yelled into the phone asking for the call to be terminated and then the conversation ended. Turnbull is of the believe that Trump is a bully and it was Turnbull’s aim to bully back against Trump. It is clear from this additional information that Australia’s relations with the United States under Turnbull’s leadership is likely to sour and this will fuel further speculation about his leadership of the Liberal Party.