Jan 27, 2017

Trump’s lunacy raises serious questions for Turnbull and Bishop

Donald Trump's willingness to re-embrace torture, CIA black sites and, perhaps, another Middle East invasion all raise major questions for the Turnbull government and its willingness to work with the US.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The government's strategy for coping with a Trump presidency so far has been a mixture of forced enthusiasm and denialism. Clearly anxious for Trump not to kill off the pointless but, for Turnbull, politically important Trans Pacific Partnership and Turnbull's refugee deal with the Obama administration, the Prime Minister has engaged in some slightly embarrassing truckling. "We are steadfast allies & trusted friends with a great future ahead of us," he tweeted in response to Trump's inauguration. Turnbull has previously lauded Trump as “a practical experienced businessmen who gets things done". Turnbull couldn't even bring himself to criticise Trump for "getting" the killing of the TPP done, claiming that Trump might change his mind. The nearest his government came to criticising La Donald was when Christopher Pyne offered that "it’s the wrong move for the United States".

More difficult matters loom, however, given Trump's other statements this week. For a start, Trump has flagged a return to the use of torture by its security agencies, claiming they have advised him torture is an effective intelligence-gathering technique -- which is either yet another Trump lie or delusional on the part of intelligence officials. Even GOP leaders immediately attacked Trump, insisting torture was illegal, led by John McCain, who has firsthand experience of torture.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

16 thoughts on “Trump’s lunacy raises serious questions for Turnbull and Bishop

  1. Decorum

    Turnbull’s press conference on the death of TPP consisted in large part of him bagging Shorten for being gutless. Now, when Turnbull speaks of gutlessness we should all sit up and listen, as this is an area in which he knows well of what he speaks. I thought Shorten’s comeback – essentially, “I’m not the guy that killed TPP. It was Le Donald [small gender correction there, BK. Pretentious? Moi?] So will you be bagging him too?” – was excellent, even by non-Shorten standards. But no, there will be no criticism from our jelly-backed PM on TPP, torture, legislated racism etc etc.

    1. davidh

      It may be Le Donald to you but it’s La Trump to me. Always the feminine superior pronoun if you want to be seriously pretentious. (Ditto Dame Laurence Olivier, Dame Peter Jackson etc.)

  2. klewso

    Undermine public confidence in one transmogrified “practical experienced businessman’s” ability do get things done in government and who knows where that could lead?

    1. klewso

      “Will the government continue its high-level intelligence cooperation with the United States if US agencies are engaging in torture? Will it use US-sourced intelligence obtained via torture, knowing such information is likely to be deeply flawed? Will it rebuke the Trump administration for violating the Geneva Convention and other international conventions against torture?”?
      ……. Let’s not forget how many members of this government were part of Howard’s during that “Sgt Schultz” torture era – let alone the invasion of Iraq with the subsquent fall-out from that act?

  3. John Hall

    This is the biggest test of Australia’s Foreign Affairs independence since World War 2. Let’s not sleep walk into another disaster – it’s time for Turnball to be Statesman not Yes Man.

    1. CML

      John…you will be waiting forever if you think Talcum will somehow become a ‘Statesman’. He wouldn’t have any idea how to achieve that status…total disaster is more likely!!

  4. James O'Neill

    There seems to be no limit to what turnbull will say and do if he thinks it will curry favour with the electorate. The man is seriously delusional as may be seen from his latest comments on the demise of the TPP. Does he seriously expect China to rush in and fill the gap when the TPP was first and foremost an anti-China agreement? He is then flatly contradicted by Japan’s PM Abe who has a firmer grasp on reality that Turnbull.
    Meanwhile, Bishop is in the US with her craven begging bowl. More embarrassment. Was it really only 18 months ago that Turnbull promised an adult dialogue? Like everything else that seems to have gone down the memory hole too.

  5. AR

    I was only going to comment because it is so serious.. but I grow weary.

  6. Dr Dagg

    Isn’t this another histrionic space filler by BK? Seriously, no one knows how to manage Trump. And, yes, we all know what a dickhead Trump is. If Bernard or other journalists are looking for brave they should ask Theresa May what she will do if Trump goes for a pussy grab.

    1. Matt Hardin

      Lie back and think of England?

    2. old greybearded one

      No chance she isn’t young and pretty.

    3. gerald butler

      I must admit thinking of the pussy grab. Maybe if Julia was still around he might have had a crack at her. We know the big ape likes young and beautiful but power also stimulates him.
      With a president like Trump we must hope for MacMillans insight to derail him. What is your main problem Prime minister? “Events,dear boy,events,”he replied.

  7. old greybearded one

    All this prattle about the evils (undoubted) of Trump misses a major point. (My Sister in law and great niece were the Canadian poster women for the march against trump.) The comments of his UN ambassador are alarming. When Trump has you back, expect a knife in it. The behaviour of our politicians has been inexcusable. Whether they criticise him or crawl, none of them consider what got him elected and neither do the columnists. Do you all think that there are no people in Australia that fit the out of work or underemployed whose jobs have been robotised and offshored. The LNP is persecuting them and the ALP is hardly exerting itself. I am sick of the callous right wing scum who are running this country. I was listening to Yanis Varoufakis a night or two ago. His comment was that while she was wrong Thatcher at least believed in what she did. Cameron’s lot he said were being austere out of inability and ideological nastiness with no real belief. I reckon this mob are the same. As to torture the same applies. Surely the meanest leanest and nastiest outfit in our sphere is Mossad. They are also very successful and I remember years ago their chief interrogator saying that torture got answers but no truthful ones. His main technique was patience, a drink, coffee and cigarettes.

    1. Dog's Breakfast

      Well said OGO. I also sense that this mob has no belief in what they are doing, just reflexively demonising whatever the current bogey-man is with no conviction.

      Turnbull, just sheepishly following. That’s our Leader.

    2. Zeke

      I don’t think that the Trump administration cares if they get truthful answers from torture. Untruthful ones will work fine. This is the era of alternative truth and reality denial. [insert your favourite deity or not] help us!

      1. klewso

        All Trump wants is disposable flunkies, to blame – the antithesis of Truman – “The Buck Stops There!”

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details