CANBERRA - Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has refused to join other world leaders in condemning Donald Trump's sweeping Muslim travel ban and plans for "extreme vetting" of refugees, saying it's not his job to run a commentary on the domestic policies of other countries.
Leaders from London to Ottowa, and Ankara in between, have spoken out against the executive order by the U.S President, which bans citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries -– Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -– from entering the US for 90 days.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reminded Trump of the Geneva Convention, French president Francois Hollande said it was a "dead-end response" and Canada started offering refugee places to U.S green card holders.
There was even a lighter criticism from UK Prime Minister and recent Trump visitor Theresa May, but in direct contrast, Turnbull has preferred to defer his opinion.
"It's not my job as Prime Minister of Australia to run a commentary on the domestic policies of other countries," Turnbull declared.
Turnbull downplays concerns about Trump's temporary immigration ban, says our policies are 'the envy of the world' https://t.co/pvbo9BFooi— Henry Belot (@Henry_Belot) January 30, 2017
The Prime Minister preferred instead to talk up Australia's strict border protection policies.
"We have, here, in Australia, border security arrangements which are the envy of the world," he said.
"If others wish to emulate what we're doing, they're welcome to do so. But I am not about to run a commentary on other country's practices."
Turnbull had been accused by the Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten of being "missing in action" since taking a call from Trump on Sunday in which he secured the President's support for the Barack Obama-negotiated U.S./Australia deal to take refugees detained by Australia on Manus Island and Nauru.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said "there are some issues where silence will be interpreted as agreement."
"For that reason, I need to say Mr Trump's ban on refugees based upon their religion or country is appalling and ought to be ended as soon as possible."
On Monday night, Labor MP Anne Aly questioned how the U.S./Australia deal would work.
"There are so many questions around this... We need transparency. We need those questions answered and we need strong leadership on this," Aly told ABC's 7:30.
"I think it's quite astounding that the Prime Minister has come out and said that he's not aware that it's going to affect anyone here in Australia. We have already got several cases of people where it has affected them in Australia. Dual citizens are being affected."
Protests are continuing across the United States again the ban, and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter with words an a perfectly timed photo; "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith," Trudeau wrote on Twitter on Saturday; "Diversity is our strength."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reminded Trump of the Geneva Conventions and said, through a spokesman: "She is convinced that even the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify putting people of a specific background or faith under general suspicion".
She was joined by French president Francois Hollande, Italy's Prime Pinister, Paolo Gentiloni, Pope Francis, Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who said regional issues cannot be solved by closing the doors on people;
British Prime Minister Theresa May -- who has just met Trump in person -- was vague; "The United States is responsible for the United States' policy on refugees," but her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson did not hold back: "We will protect the rights and freedoms of UK nationals home and abroad. Divisive and wrong to stigmatise because of nationality".
We will protect the rights and freedoms of UK nationals home and abroad. Divisive and wrong to stigmatise because of nationality— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 29, 2017
There is confusion over what the Muslim travel ban means for Australian citizens and dual citizens.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) all Australians who have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since 2011 must now apply for a United States visa, while it advises that dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria must also apply for a U.S. visa.
Turnbull said that if the policies were found to be harming the freedom of Australians to travel to the US, the Australian government would take it up with their American counterparts.
For what is currently known about the travel ban and how it affects Australians check the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT), but the U.S section of the smart traveller website warns that advice could change at short notice.
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