Julie Bishop: Australia will support Donald Trump on strong border protection policies

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the Turnbull government will support Donald Trump’s “strong immigration and border protection policies”, as the leaders of Britain and Germany criticise an executive order banning entry to the United States for refugees and citizens from a range of majority Muslim countries.

Speaking in Los Angeles after events promoting Australian business and tourism, Ms Bishop said the Turnbull government was working closely with the White House to ensure Australians would continue to have access to the United States and consular officials were assisting travellers on the ground.

“I’m confident that the Australian government and the US government will continue to support each other in ensuring that we can implement our strong immigration and border protection policies,” Ms Bishop said.

“The Australian government is working very closely with the administration and the US officials and we want to ensure that Australians continue to have access to the United States, as they have in the past, and people from the United States have access to Australia.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who spoke with President Trump for about 25 minutes on Sunday, is one of just a few world leaders to have spoken with the US leader since he signed the executive order. During the phone conversation President Trump confirmed the US would continue with a deal signed by the Obama administration to resettle hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers held by Australia on Manus Island and Nauru.

Apart from confirmation of the resettlement deal, no official information about the call has been made public. Ms Bishop said the two leaders spoke about a range international issues.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered her ministers to speak to their US counterparts about the controversial travel bans, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said efforts to defeat international terrorism did “not justify putting people of a specific background or faith under general suspicion.”

Ms Bishop confirmed she had spoken to Vice President Mike Pence for a second time over the weekend and Trump officials were very well briefed on all of the details of US-Australia alliance.

Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop says Australia will work with the US on strong border protection policies.

Mr Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus appeared to walk back aspects of the ban overnight, saying US green card holders from the affected countries would not be prevented from returning from overseas.

Earlier a federal judge ruled immigration officials could not detain people who arrived at airports after the ban came into force.

President Donald Trump with Mike Flynn and Steve Bannon in the Oval Office.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Sunday updated travel advice for the US, noting the temporary suspension of visas for nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Since June 2016, Australian dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria have been ineligible to apply for some electronic visas and the visa waiver program.

Britain Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said most British citizens would be exempt from the ban and the only dual nationals impacted were those flying from one of the seven countries.

Fairfax Media has contacted the department for clarification about possible exemptions for Australians.

Acting US ambassador to Australia James Carouso said what President Trump had ordered was no secret.

“He campaigned on strong borders,” Mr Carouso told radio 3AW. “This is a pretty big change in our procedures.”

The former ambassador, John Berry, was appointed by Barack Obama and returned to the US last year. President Trump is yet to announce his replacement.

Mr Carouso, who is officially charge d’affaires, said the visa changes were part of a 90 day review of border processes.

Asked why countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan were not included on the travel ban list, Mr Carouso said: “I wish I knew.”


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