By political reporter Henry Belot.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the United States has promised to exempt Australians with dual nationality from President Donald Trump’s temporary visa ban.
Mr Trump’s executive order placed a 90-day ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
There were fears that the ban would stop Australians who are also citizens of those countries from entering the United States.
Mr Turnbull said he had been assured by Mr Trump’s national security advisor and Australia’s Ambassador in Washington DC, Joe Hockey, that Australians would be exempt.
We have received confirmation from the White House this morning that Australian passport holders will be able to travel to and from the United States in the normal way,” he said.
“They won’t be affected by the recent executive order regardless of whether they are dual citizens of another country or where they were born.”
More than 110,000 Australian residents were born in one of these seven countries and their ability to travel to the US was in doubt until Foreign Minister Julie Bishop instructed diplomats to secure exemptions.
Canada and the United Kingdom have both said that their dual citizens will be exempt from the policy.
Mr Trump’s executive order also suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days with case-by-case exemptions and suspends entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely.
The Prime Minister also dismissed criticism about his refusal to condemn Mr Trump’s visa ban, insisting it was not in the national interest to do so.
“What is important for me to do as Australian Prime Minister, is to deliver for Australians,” he said.
“When I have frank advice to give to an American president, I give it in private as good friends do — as wise Prime Ministers do to ensure they are best able to protect Australia and Australia’s best interests.”
Mr Turnbull said the case of Pouya Ghadirian, a 15-year-old Melbourne schoolboy who says the US Consulate denied him a visa because he hold dual Iranian-Australian citizenship, may be reconsidered.
“In light of the assurances that have been given today, it may be that case can be reconsidered,” he said.
“There may be other factors, but that is really an individual case.”
Labor attack Turnbull over Trump stance
Labor’s national security spokesman Mark Dreyfus said Mr Turnbull’s refusal to condemn the ban was unacceptable given strong statements from the leaders of Britain, Germany, Italy and other nations.
“Malcolm Turnbull, as our Prime Minister, needs to speak up and needs to stop being weak and spineless, which is the way he is approaching this at the moment,” he said.