Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the United States has promised to exempt Australians with dual nationality from President Donald Trump’s temporary visa ban.
Mr Trump’s executive order placed a 90-day ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
There were fears that the ban would stop Australians who are also citizens of those countries from entering the United States.
Mr Turnbull said he had been assured by Mr Trump’s national security advisor and Australia’s Ambassador in Washington DC, Joe Hockey, that Australians would be exempt.
“We have received confirmation from the White House this morning that Australian passport holders will be able to travel to and from the United States in the normal way,” he said.
“They won’t be affected by the recent executive order regardless of whether they are dual citizens of another country or where they were born.”
More than 110,000 Australian residents were born in one of these seven countries and their ability to travel to the US was in doubt until Foreign Minister Julie Bishop instructed diplomats to secure exemptions.
Canada and the United Kingdom have both said that their dual citizens will be exempt from the policy.
Mr Trump’s executive order also suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days with case-by-case exemptions and suspends entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely.
The Prime Minister also dismissed criticism about his refusal to condemn Mr Trump’s visa ban, insisting it was not in the national interest to do so.
“What is important for me to do as Australian Prime Minister, is to deliver for Australians.”
“When I have frank advice to give to an American president, I give it in private as good friends do — as wise Prime Ministers do to ensure they are best able to protect Australia and Australia’s best interests.”
Mr Turnbull said the case of Pouya Ghadirian, a 15-year-old Melbourne schoolboy who says the US Consulate denied him a visa because he hold dual Iranian-Australian citizenship, may be reconsidered.
“In light of the assurances that have been given today, it may be that case can be reconsidered,” he said.
“There may be other factors, but that is really an individual case.”
Labor attack Turnbull over Trump stance
Labor’s national security spokesman Mark Dreyfus said Mr Turnbull’s refusal to condemn the ban was unacceptable given strong statements from the leaders of Britain, Germany, Italy and other nations.
“Malcolm Turnbull, as our Prime Minister, needs to speak up and needs to stop being weak and spineless, which is the way he is approaching this at the moment,” he said.
“He needs to explain clearly and simply to the US that this is wrong, that its not in accordance with the dearly held Australian values of their friend, Australia.
“We need to try to explain to the US the chaos this is causing.”
Wherever possible, I want the United States to be able to go about its business without interference from…
Mr Dutton described the Prime Minister’s position as responsible and measured, and said it was important for Australia to support the US.
“I think we need to respect the fact that the US has just been through an election, this was a big debate in the campaign,” he told Sky News.
Mr Dutton criticised comments by Mr Shorten on social media describing the ban as “appalling” and calling for it to be overturned as soon as possible.
“I urge Malcolm Turnbull to reconsider what our nation’s position ought to be and rethink what he should be saying on our behalf,” the Labor leader said.
Mr Dutton said the comments were at odds with the stated policy of the US and accused Mr Shorten of being either poorly informed, or desperate to outflank the Greens.
“Richard Di Natale’s call for the US alliance to be broken was reckless and irresponsible and Mr Shorten is in a battle for people on the left, and votes on the left in his own party and within communities,” he told Sky News.
“Mr Shorten, for his own political self-interest, has sacrificed the national interest.”