EXCLUSIVE: SBS Chief Political Correspondent Daniela Ritorto sits down with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to discuss Australia-US relations and that controversial phone call with President Trump.
Malcolm Turnbull has rebuffed former prime minister Paul Keating’s advice for Australia not to bow down to the US ahead of his much-anticipated meeting with US President Donald Trump, insisting he always speaks his mind.
The Prime Minister is preparing for his first one-on-one meeting with President Trump on Thursday in New York, which follows their tense phone call in January that made headlines around the world.
President Trump reportedly labelled that heated conversation over the controversial refugee resettlement deal as “the worst call by far”, and ended the call 25 minutes in.
In an exclusive interview with SBS News, Prime Minister Turnbull says he’s had a number of conversations with President Trump in the lead up to their first meeting.
“I think the reports of that telephone coverage are greatly exaggerated and indeed inaccurate,” he said.
“The alliance between Australia and the US is so fundamental and so enduring it transcends particular presidents and prime ministers.”
He insists the meeting won’t be about personalities but focus firmly on business, including discussions around the threat of North Korea and the coalition efforts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I understand why these relationships get put into the context of personalities but the alliance between Australia and the United States… it’s built on millions of people to people links,” Mr Turnbull said.
EXCLUSIVE: Turnbull 'speaks his mind' to SBS
The Prime Minister also hit back at advice from Mr Keating, who’s said the Australian government should not keep “bowing down” to the Americans.
Mr Turnbull says he doesn't accept that characterisation.
“We always speak our mind,” he said.
“Australian prime ministers should always, and I always do. I believe what every Australian prime minister has done is speak up for Australian interests and act in Australia’s national interests.”
Mr Turnbull said the alliance with the US was the “bedrock” and foundation of Australia’s national security.