US President Donald Trump has hailed Australia’s immigration system, hinting it could provide the model for the Trump administration.
In his first address to a joint sitting of Congress, Mr Trump outlined his plans to revamp the US economy, including changes to what he described as an outdated immigration system.
He said merit-based immigration systems, like those in Australia and Canada, would save the US countless dollars, boost wages and help struggling families, including immigrants, enter the middle class.
He also vowed to take new steps to keep the US safe and improve vetting procedures as he seeks to replace a legally challenged executive order blocking entry from seven Muslim-majority nations and suspending the US refugee programme.
“It is not compassionate, but reckless, to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur,” Mr Trump said.
He also claimed most of those convicted of terrorism offences since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were from other countries.
“We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America – we cannot allow our nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.”
He also confirmed his key policy of building a wall between the US and Mexico.
Trump heralds ‘new chapter of American greatness’
The speech issued a broad call for creating new jobs, overhauling the nation’s healthcare system and significantly boosting military spending.
Mr Trump also kicked off the evening with a mention of the US withdrawing from the “job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and promised that “dying industries will come roaring back to life”.
“Since my … election Ford, Fiat, Chrysler, Lockheed, Walmart Intel and many others have announced they will invest billions and billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs,” Mr Trump said.
“The stock market has gained almost $3 trillion in value since the election on November 8 – a record.”
He pledged to “demolish and destroy ISIS” and reiterated his plans to increase military spending.
“… I am sending Congress a budget that repeals the military, eliminates the defence sequester … and calls for one of the largest increases in national defence spending in American history,” he said.
“My budget will also increase funding for our veterans.
“Our veterans have delivered for this nation, and now we must deliver for them.”
Mr Trump called on Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare “with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time provide better healthcare”.
He also said Congress should ensure people with pre-existing medical conditions would have coverage and help Americans buy insurance through tax credits.
“Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for our country,” Mr Trump told the room.
“The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we are going to do.”
“Action is not a choice, it is a necessity.
“So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.”
Could Mr Trump get through a speech without mention of Chicago, the hometown of former US president Barack Obama?
“The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single year increase in nearly half a century,” Mr Trump said.
“In Chicago, more than 4000 people were shot last year alone, and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher.
“This is not acceptable in our society.”
Mr Trump had a handful of special guests accompanied by his family to help amplify his agenda.
- The families of people killed by illegal immigrants
- The wife of a late Navy seal, who Mr Trump went on to reveal died a war hero
- A woman living with a rare disease
Mr Trump addressed each directly, including the wives of two police officers, Susan Oliver and Jessica Davies.
“Their husbands, Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver and Detective Michael Davies, were slain in the line of duty in California,” Mr Trump said.
“They were pillars of their community.
“These brave men were viciously gunned down by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record and two prior deportations – should never have been in our country.”
– with AP