(Australian Associated Press)
Australian dual nationals will be able to travel to the United States after being exempted from Donald Trump’s immigration ban.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed the development following a call from Australia’s ambassador in Washington Joe Hockey.
“He’s had assurances, confirmation, from the White House that Australian passport holders – regardless of their place of birth or whether they are dual nationals or whether they hold another passport – will remain welcome to come and go to the United States in the usual way,” Mr Turnbull told Sky News on Tuesday.
The assurance matches those the US gave to the United Kingdom and Canada and came after confirmation from the national security advisor.
The decision means Melbourne schoolboy Pouya Ghadirian – a dual Australian-Iranian citizen – should be able to attend a space camp in the US.
Pouya, 15, was refused an entry visa by US consular officials following President Trump’s executive banning travellers from seven majority Muslim countries.
Now he is expected to join his classmates on a school trip to visit Orlando, Washington, and the US Space and Rocket Center in Alabama.
On the political front, Mr Turnbull defended his decision not to publicly criticise the Trump ban.
“When I have frank advice to give to an American president, I give it privately, as good friends should, as wise prime ministers do, when they want to ensure they are best able to protect Australians and Australians’ national interest,” he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
“Others can engage in commentary. My job is to stand up for Australia, Australian interests, and deliver, and that’s what we’ve done today.”
Opposition leader Bill Shorten used Facebook to take a swipe at Mr Turnbull.
While the US should be able to go about its business without interference from Australia, there were some issues where silence would be interpreted as agreement, he wrote.
“For that reason, I need to say Mr Trump’s ban on refugees based upon their religion or country is appalling and ought to be ended as soon as possible,” he wrote.
But Mr Turnbull reminded the Labor leader he was not prime minister.
“He will go out on anything that he thinks gives him a political advantage,” he said.
“He has no concern about our national interest and our national interest is best protected by me giving private counsel to the United States, our most important ally, (and) publicly refraining from commenting on their domestic policy.”
Greens Leader Richard Di Natale says the prime minister passed up a great opportunity to show some leadership.
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus cited a Facebook post by former US ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich, condemning the new administration.
Mr Bleich took to social media to label the visa ban illegal and cruel, saying it violates the most basic tenets of the US.
“I take no pleasure in condemning our nation’s actions,” he wrote.
“But the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”