Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has slammed US President Donald Trump’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly-Muslim countries as “appalling”, arguing Australia should not stay silent on the decision that has shocked the world.
After Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull refused to condemn the immigration ban, which has seen visitors and visa-holders thrown off planes as they try to travel to the US, Mr Shorten said to remain silent could be “interpreted as agreement”.
“Wherever possible, I want the United States to be able to go about its business without interference from Australia. And I would expect the reverse to be true,” the Labor leader wrote on his official Facebook page.
“However, there are some issues where silence will be interpreted as agreement. 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.”
The 90-day ban, enacted by executive order at the weekend to immediate effect, declares the admission of immigrants and non-immigrants from seven predominantly-Muslim nations could be detrimental to the interests of the US.
The order applies to citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, but does not include several other states from which terrorist actors have previously originated, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Earlier on Monday, Mr Turnbull differed from his counterparts in much of the western world by refusing to criticise the ban. “It is not my job, as Prime Minister of Australia, to run a commentary on the domestic policies of other countries,” he said.
But Mr Shorten called on the PM to “reconsider” his rhetoric, following widespread condemnation by advocacy groups, including Amnesty International, which said the Turnbull government’s response “beggared belief”.
“I urge Malcolm Turnbull to reconsider what our nation’s position ought to be and rethink what he should be saying on our behalf. It’s time for leadership,” Mr Shorten wrote.
Labor MP Maria Vamvakinou, whose Melbourne electorate of Calwell contains the second-highest number of people born in the affected countries of any federal seat, also criticised the ban.
“It’s very unfortunate,” she told Fairfax Media. “I would never support such an action. And I don’t believe the majority of the Australian community would either.”
Ms Vamvakinou said she had not yet been contacted by any constituents who might be affected by the travel ban, but expected several to suffer inconvenience over the next three months.
“He’s obviously sent the whole system into disarray and I’m baffled. It’s not something we would expect a country like the US to do,” she said.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Fairfax Media she would instruct Australian diplomats to seek the same exemptions for Australian dual nationals as the Trump administration has granted Britons and Canadians.
The story ‘It’s time for leadership’: Bill Shorten slams ‘appalling’ Donald Trump immigration ban first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.