Americas

Turnbull says Trump wasting his time with ‘fake news’ complaints

Turnbull says Trump wasting his time with ‘fake news’ complaints
Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Lima, Peru on Nov 18, 2016. Photo: AP
Published: 5:45 PM, February 17, 2017

CANBERRA — Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who had a heated phone call with President Donald Trump last month, said the US leader is wasting his time complaining that the media is spreading “very fake news” about his administration.

Mr Trump used a 77-minute press conference in Washington on Thursday to lambaste the press, which has reported about alleged dysfunction in the White House, and said his administration is “a fine-tuned machine”.

“A very great politician, Winston Churchill, once said that politicians complaining about the newspapers is like a sailor complaining about the sea,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in New Zealand on Friday when asked about Mr Trump’s “fake news” claims. “There’s not much point. It’s the media we live with, and we have to get our message across, and we thank you all in the media for your kind attention.”

Relations between the US and Australia hit a low point in early February after Mr Trump blasted a refugee resettlement plan agreed to by predecessor Mr Barack Obama, calling it a “dumb deal” in a late-night tweet. That came after the Washington Post reported that Mr Trump berated Mr Turnbull in a phone call and “abruptly ended” their conversation.

KEY ALLY

Mr Trump later dispatched two of his top advisers to reassure Australia’s ambassador of American support for the alliance, and told business leaders in Washington: “I love Australia as a country.”

Australia, a key US ally, is the only country to have fought in every conflict with American forces since World War I, and is currently flying combat missions in Syria. Mr Turnbull said on Friday his government would consider on its merits any approach from the US to increase Australia’s military presence in the Middle East in the fight against Islamic State.

Mr Turnbull, 62, was asked in the New Zealand briefing how world leaders should approach dealings with Mr Trump.

“The only approach to take when dealing with any president or any prime minister is to be frank and forthright,” he replied. BLOOMBERG