The Mid Winter Ball speech by Turnbull though funny and light-hearted generates world-wide response

By Rekha Bhattacharjee

With so much news around ”“ it is surprising that the speech made by our Prime Minister Turnbull at the Mid Winter Ball attended by politicians, journalists, diplomats, ministers and the Opposition all present with the exception of our friend from Channel Nine Laurie Oakes. He came across a video of PM’s speech and released it in the public domain which remained in the news for quite a few days.

Prime Minister Turnbull was supposedly mocking President Trump ”“ not dying down.

The Australian Press:  Over killing it by calling it an inflammatory, sarcastic, relationship destroying speech ”“ pointing to President Trump’s sensitivity to criticism!

A couple of days ago Michelle Grattan wrote ”“ “This week’s incident has sparked questions and debate about journalists’ ethics and practices. Should Oakes have put the speech to air? In my opinion, he had absolutely every right to do so ”“ he wasn’t there and so had not consented to the “off-the-record” terms. Is the leaker, whoever it was, to be condemned? Whether you think they should be, leaks happen. We journalists encourage them, so we shouldn’t be hypocritical about this one. We should, incidentally, respond with a horse laugh to the attempt by Mathias Cormann to suggest the leak might be Shorten’s fault. That was quickly denied by Oakes. Should the ball be off the record anyway? Surely this is an absurdity, given the number of people present, including lobbyists, business figures, politicians, staffers and diplomats, as well as journalists. The latest incident comes against the background of the up-and-down start to the Turnbull-Trump relationship.”

If one read the speech ”“ it can be put down as self deprecating, a mixture of silliness and affection ”“ the target being Turnbull himself!   “The Donald and I ”“ we are winning in the polls. We are winning so much! We are like we have never won before. We are winning in the polls ”“ we are! Not the fake polls. They’re the ones we are not winning ”“ We are winning the real polls”.

It is important to note where it was given ”“ at the Mid Winter Ball ”“ where humour is expected and also off the record!

The American Embassy in Canberra took it with humour that was intended.   As Malcolm Turnbull himself said “It was light hearted, affectionate, and good natured and the butt of the joke was I,” he said.

But the Australian media ”“ “Turnbull’s riff will not please the Donald! “ ”“ “Turnbull in damage control after Trump parody” wrote another.” White House spares Turnbull for Trump parody”   “Brace for US President’s backlash as Turnbull roasts Trump.”   Did PM Turnbull go too far mocking Trump at a private function? Even says “Aussie PM’s “off the record” Trump parody causes controversy!”

“Australian leader Malcolm Turnbull pokes fun at trump is leaked – PM’s first phone call with President Trump was famously unpleasant. His next one might be even more so!”  – New York Times

The government is pushing the point that Turnbull’s Trump references were all just a bit of fun, showing another side of him. The speech was “affectionately light-hearted”, Turnbull has said.

And, as a story in The Washington Post that reported Turnbull’s speech illustrated, when it comes to Trump, Turnbull isn’t on his lonesome. It noted Trump has become “the butt of jokes in capitals around the world”.

“Fellow world leaders appear emboldened to poke fun at him as a way to bolster their political standing,” the story said. Now that would be an upside for Turnbull.

Australian Ambassador to U.S. Joe Hockey, who was the former Australian Treasurer joked and said, “I have not been so far hauled into the White House but I can see a few black cars lined up!”

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