Australian PM speaks to Trump by phone for 25 minutes as ban on travellers from some Muslim-majority countries is enforced in US
Donald Trump has committed to honour the deal with Australia to take refugees from Manus Island and Nauru even as his ban against refugees and migrants from some Muslim-majority countries is enforced.
In a 25-minute phone call with Malcolm Turnbull, the two leaders committed to work together to improve global stability, defeat Islamic State (also known as Isis or Isil) and prevent irregular and illegal immigration.
The ongoing shared objective to defeat Isil was discussed and both leaders committed to continuing to work together to improve global stability, including in the Asia Pacific, a government source said. The leaders acknowledged a common interest in preventing irregular and illegal migration.
The president confirmed that his administration would continue to honour the 2016 refugee resettlement arrangement agreed between the governments of Australia and the United States.
Shortly afterwards, the White House tweeted a photo of the call and released a statement.
Both leaders emphasised the enduring strength and closeness of the US-Australia relationship that is critical for peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and globally, the White House statement said.
Trumps executive order to close Americas borders to travellers from some Muslim-majority countries left people from those countries held in detention at New York Citys JFK airport on Saturday, causing chaos in American airports over the weekend.
Trumps executive order suspends entry to the US for all refugees for 120 days, indefinitely for those from Syria. All entries by people from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen have been suspended for 90 days, including valid visa-holders and legal residents. Green card holders were initially included in the ban but the White House later said they would face additional screening instead.
Of the refugees held on Manus and Nauru, Iranian refugees make up the largest group. There are also significant Iraqi, Sudanese and Somali cohorts among the detainees.
The Australian government updated its travel advice for the United States following the changes, advising those affected by the executive order that they would need to apply for non-immigrant visas through the US embassy or consulate.
No exceptions will be made for government officials or ADF members who are dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan, the advice stated.
Qantas offered refunds to any of its passengers caught up in the freeze.
Different views have emerged within the Coalition about the immigration ban. On Sunday, Australias trade minister, Steve Ciobo, said he would not support a Trump-style ban and nor would most Australians.
Asked if he would like Australia to implement a similar policy, Ciobo said he would not personally support such a ban and it is not a position that most Australians will support.
Ciobo said that, since the Coalition stopped asylum seeker boats, the government had been able to apply more rigour and focus on the people applying to come to Australia as refugees.
Australians, I believe, fundamentally want to know that as a country we are going to be safe, he told Sky News. They want to know that we are not going to allow terrorists into Australia.
But government whip and Queensland LNP member George Christensen posted a Breitbart article on his Facebook page about the Trump refugee order and described it as a sensible policy for national security in the present climate.
Christensen called for Australia to follow suit and told Guardian Australia that he would like to see a total ban on Australias humanitarian intake and a Trump-style ban from countries that have a high level of violent extremism.
Christensen said such a ban would include Saudi Arabia, Qatar and a string of them in the Middle East.
Australia should consider the same thing for national security reasons but also, quite frankly, for economic reasons as well, he said.
Christensen said that, under the Coalition, the intake would rise substantially over a decade and would be even higher under Labor, which he described as completely unsustainable, particularly in terms of welfare.
A former trainee priest, Christensen also revealed he had tried to lobby the foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, last year to drop foreign aid for groups that include abortion in their services a policy Trump implemented last week.
I dont think foreign aid funding should be used for those purposes, particularly in countries where majority of the population would find it abhorrent, Christensen said. I expressed views to Julie Bishop and lobbied her last year but her view was firmly that the foreign aid would remain in place for services that include abortion. So I suspect the policy will stay in place.
Asked about the abortion ruling, Ciobo described Australias aid program as very effective and warned the government needed to be respectful.
I think there are a number of reasons why women would take the decision to have a termination, Ciobo told Sky. I think we need to be very respectful that we dont command certain things from on high.
Bill Shorten said Australias non-discriminatory immigration policies had made the country stronger.
This week, the prime minister and opposition leader will address the National Press Club to outline their parties agendas for the year.
Over the weekend, Tony Abbott has continued to push the Coalition leadership, calling for Turnbull to adopt a constitutional referendum to change the Senate processes to allow governments to pass legislation or risk resembling Italy.
Over time the Senate has ceased being a house of review and become a house of rejection, Abbott told the Australian.
He is preparing a major speech on the issue this week one sure to blow a hole in a week set down by the Coalition to lay out its agenda.
Ciobo agreed the Senate had been frustrating from time to time but did not appear to back Abbotts idea.
The fact is under this prime minister and this government we have been able to secure passage of key legislation through the Australian parliament, weve worked constructively and engaged in a meaningful way with the crossbench, Ciobo said.