Malcolm Turnbull made several on-the-nose quips about the US President at a private press dinner
Audio of Australian prime minister Malcolm doing an impression of US President Donald Trump, while opening mocking him about poll numbers, his obsession with the mainstream media and fake news, and his alleged links to Russia has been released.
The leaked footage comes from a speech the Liberal Party leader gave to the Canberra Press Gallery’s Midwinter Ball, the Australian equivalent to the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
In his tongue-in-cheek address, Turnbull also poked fun at his own poor ratings in national opinion polls, drawing a comparison to Trump, whose historically dire approval ratings have dogged the first months of his administration.
“The Donald and I, we are winning and winning in the polls,” Turnbull told the crowd. “We are winning so much, we are winning, we are winning like we have never won before. We are winning in the polls. We are, we are. Not the fake polls. Not the fake polls. They’re the ones we’re not winning in.
“We’re winning in the real polls. You know, the online polls. They are so easy to win. I know that. Did you know that? I kind of know that. They are so easy to win. I have this Russian guy.”
The speeches delivered at the Midwinter Ball are unofficially considered to be off-the-record, with the deliberately satirical lines usually withheld from public scrutiny.
But Laurie Oakes, the senior political correspondent who’s no stranger to Internet viral fame, played the leaked audio and a short video uploaded to social media on a Channel Nine news programme.
Reacting to the leak, which seems fitting in light of the chorus of Deep Throats regularly divulging news from the White House to the American media, Turnbull said his remarks were clearly joking and light-hearted.
“Well [the Midwinter Ball] is a great tradition, it’s a big charity fundraiser... and it is a good-humoured sort of roast really. The PM and the opposition leader give a speech and poke fun at themselves and often other politicians,” he told Melbourne’s 3AW radio station.
“My speech was light-hearted, affectionately light-hearted.”
The Prime Minister, who made international headlines during the early days of Trump’s presidency after the US leader reportedly hung up the phone on him after a frosty conversation, was critical of the leaking of the audio, saying it was against the spirit of the occasion.
“I guess what this means is at the Midwinter Ball next year I will read selected passages from budget paper 2.”
The US Embassy in Canberra also issued a statement, supporting Turnbull and recognising that the speech was not an intentional slight against the US President.
“We understand that last night’s event is equivalent to our own White House Correspondents’ Dinner. We take this with the good humour that was intended,” the statement concludes.