Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Danger Lurks in People-Swap Con

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Danger Lurks in People-Swap Con

Article excerpt

MALCOLM Turnbull has conspired with Donald Trump to cook up a fraud of a people swap that puts Australians potentially in more danger.

That is the clear message from the leaked transcript of the first conversation between our Prime Minister and the then newly elected President of the United States.

Ignore the commentators who say the transcript shows Turnbull in "one of his finest moments as Prime Minister" being a "tough negotiator" and "forceful in defending Australia's interests".

Wrong. The transcript shows Turnbull trying desperately to save a deal that was in his own interests, and not Australia's.

It shows Turnbull telling Trump he'd take in "not-very-attractive" people the US was trying to get rid of -- "anyone you want us to take" -- in exchange for Trump just pretending he might take our own unwanted boat people still on Manus Island and Nauru.

The transcript of the two leaders' January 28 phone call confirms Trump was furious with the deal predecessor Barack Obama had made with Turnbull to take up to 1250 of our boat people on Manus Island and Nauru.

This directly contradicted Trump's promise to stop taking in refugees from jihadist countries.

"I signed an executive order saying that we are not taking anybody in," fumed Trump.

"I will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people. This is a killer."

But then Turnbull made a suggestion. Trump could just pretend to honour the deal, while taking next to none of our boat people.

"Every individual is subject to your vetting," he assured Trump.

"You can decide to take 1000 or 100. It is entirely up to you. The obligation is to only go through the process."

Trump finally got it: "Suppose I vet them closely and I do not take any?"

And this is the con that Turnbull agreed to: "That is the point I have been trying to make."

But this was only one half of the sham deal that could have the US taking as few as zero (according to Trump) or 100 (according to Turnbull) of our boat people.

The other half is what Turnbull had secretly agreed to do for the US in exchange. And this is the most disturbing part of the conversation. …

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