The first rule of Midwinter Ball is you don't talk about Midwinter Ball (though Crikey has never been one for rules), but someone was talking to veteran Nine journalist Laurie Oakes about Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's speech, which included a very funny but diplomatically challenging Donald Trump impression. Oakes, who did not attend the ball and thus was not been constrained by its Chatham House rules, played the leaked audio on Channel Nine. "The Donald and I, we are winning and winning in the polls. We are winning so much. We are winning like we have never won before! We are winning in the polls. We are! We are. Not the fake polls, not the fake polls, they’re the ones we’re not winning in," the Prime Minister joked.
The speech went down extremely well in the room and is delighting American news outlets, but Turnbull himself is not so pleased that it leaked. Turnbull told 3AW he was "disappointed" the audio had leaked and described the speech as an "affectionately lighthearted" jab at himself. There has been no reaction from the White House yet, but a US embassy statement statement said the United States took the joke "with the good humour that was intended". Journalists, politicians and their guests are normally very mindful of the ban on spilling the beans on what happens in the room, but many are today saying Turnbull should be more careful and not provoke a potentially unstable important ally.