Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he believed the leak was more damaging for Mr Turnbull than Mr Trump. picture: Screengrab/CNNSource:CNN
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he believed the leak was more damaging for Mr Turnbull than Mr Trump. picture: Screengrab/CNNSource:CNN

‘More poodle than Prime Minister’: Turnbull's shame

MALCOLM Turnbull was more "poodle-like" than Australian Prime Minister in his first conversation with Donald Trump.

That is the view of Lowy Institute non-resident fellow Professor James Curran, who criticised the language Mr Turnbull used during his call with the US President.

Speaking about the lengthy transcript of a leaked phone call between President Trump and Mr Turnbull, the University of Sydney history professor questioned the PM's approach.

"The comment from Mr Turnbull at the end of that phone call where he says to Trump again and again 'I'll be there for you' takes us all the way back to the Harold Holt and LBJ era," he said.

"I don't think that sort of language is becoming of an Australian Prime Minister to any world leader and certainly not to this one.

"It's an unfortunate use of language by Mr Turnbull and one which doesn't speak well to Australia's national interest and greater Australian self-reliance within the US alliance.

"It's the language of a poodle rather than an Australian Prime Minister. It plays to the idea of us being a US lapdog."

Prof Curran said he didn't think the leaking of that conversation actually amounted to much.

"It just shows Trump defending an issue which was one of his signature policies that he took to the election in terms of his approach to immigration and shows Turnbull pushing the refugee deal he and Obama signed," he said

"I think the more serious problem here is leaking of the full transcript. It was bad enough the details of the phone conversation were leaked in late January/early February when the story first broke but the fact that the full transcript has been leaked is quite extraordinary.
"Historians usually have to wait 30 years for this."

Prof Curran also said it was a worrying development for the business of government.

He also questioned why Mr Turnbull used his first phone call with Mr Trump to raise the refugee deal knowing issues of "bad US deals" and immigration irked the new President.

"It showed his desperation," Prof Curran said.

In a press conference in Broome on Friday, broadcast on Periscope by the Prime Minister's media team, Mr Turnbull refused to comment on the leak and appeared to question its legitimacy.

"I'm not going to comment on the lack of this supposed transcript," he said.

"The nature of our relationship with the US in this area is one of mutual assistance. So we help the Americans, they help us. It's in the context of a very big relationship of mutual support."

Mr Turnbull indicated he had stood up for Australia in the tense phone call.

"As you know I always stand up for Australia's interests. That's my commitment as Prime Minister. Australians expect that, that's what I do."

He said the deal had "always been subject to American vetting procedures".

Meanwhile, in an interview on CNN today former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was asked if these sort of conversations between allies were normal.

"No not normal I've got to say, it's right out there," he said.

He said it was clear this was a testy conversation and the transcript proved it.

"I think the real impact for this lies with Mr Turnbull in Australia," he said.

He said Mr Trump's position was clear for a long time but the content of what Mr Turnbull said in this conversation hadn't been heard in Australia.

Mr Rudd said he believed it would impact domestic opinion of Mr Turnbull who "had been loose with the truth" over the refugee deal.

He also said to have the leak come from within the Trump administration was jaw dropping.