The truth behind Malcolm Turnbull's humiliating phone call with Donald Trump.

The Monday conversation between US President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ended in frustration, with no clear understanding if the US will honour the refugee deal with Australia, reports out of Washington revealed today.

This is very different to what we’ve heard in Australia.

Mr Turnbull told the National Press Club yesterday that the deal to resettle 1,250 refugees from the Australian Detention centre in Nauru to American shores was likely to go ahead. The agreement was made with the former US President Barack Obama, and Australian authorities had hoped to start transporting refugees at the beginning of this year.

“The Trump administration has committed to progress with the arrangements to honour the deal … and that was the assurance the President gave me when we spoke on the weekend,” Mr Turnbull said yesterday.

Apparently not.

“This is the worst deal ever,” Mr Trump told US officials, quoted in the Washington Post. 

The US President reportedly told Mr Turnbull he was “going to get killed” politically if he went ahead with the deal. And accused Australia of hoping to export the “next Boston bombers.”

Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes Speech. Post continues below.

Before the phone call, Mr Turnbull was optimistic. He told a press conference on Monday morning that he was “very confident and satisfied that the existing arrangements will continue”.

From his comments to the National Press Conference yesterday, he was just as optimistic after the phone call.

In comparison:

“This was the worst [phone] call by far,” Mr Trump told senior U.S. officials,

The President made four calls to world leaders that day, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. He ended what was meant to be an hour-long call with Mr Turnbull by hanging up on him after 25 minutes. Ouch.


The White House has reportedly issued a statement saying: “The President is still considering whether or not he will move forward with this deal at this time.”

Well… this is a little bit awkward.

Just one day before the phone call, Mr Trump signed an executive order temporarily barring the admissions of refugees to America and temporarily barring travellers with passports from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

It was a move publicly condemned by world leaders, as well as the Leader of the Opposition in Australia Bill Shorten who released a statement saying: “Mr Trump’s ban on refugees based on their religion or country is appalling.”

Mr Turnbull, however, stayed quiet, telling reporters on Monday: “when we want to engage in discussions of this kind, we do so privately and frankly.”

His silence was noticed. Many labelled it a “lack of leadership”, out of fear of jeopardising the refugee resentment deal.

Mocking Melania Trump… Enough, says Monique Bowley. Post continues below.

Now, we’ve learnt the deal may not go ahead anyway.

This leaves us with these three possible conclusions:

Our Prime Minister’s optimism on Monday was naivety at best, completely unfounded at worst.

His press conference on Tuesday was purposefully misleading, or Mr Trump has completely back-flipped after the meeting. (Either is possible.)

And, most importantly, Mr Turnbull’s silence – or “lack of leadership” – was likely for nothing.