Turnbull reacts to leaked audio of him mimicking Trump

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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull attends a meeting at a hotel in Shanghai, China, April 14, 2016.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull attends a meeting at a hotel in Shanghai, China, April 14, 2016. Reuters/Aly Song

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has reacted to leaked audio of him mimicking US President Donald Trump. He said it was never meant to be taken seriously.

“It’s light-hearted, affectionate, good natured,” the Aussie leader told 3AW’s Tom Elliott. He also dismissed claims that Trump is the butt of his jokes. “But listen, it's fun, you've got to have a laugh, we've got to lighten up.”

But he is not delighted the audio has been leaked. He pointed out that it was a breach of protocol and breach of faith, among all other things.

Even senior Labor MP Anthony Albanese condemned the culprit of the leak. He argued that ethics should have been followed, but was breached by whoever taped the prime minister’s speech. Albanese added he did not think it should have happened as it would dampen the potential for people to have a laugh.

Government frontbencher Christopher Pyne agreed, saying political leaders would be hesitant to poke fun at themselves and others in the future. He said the leak had harmed politicians' belief in the Mid-Winter Ball as a chance for them to let their hair down. As of writing, Trump has not commented yet about the leaked audio.

'Good humour'

Turnbull delivered his speech mimicking his US counterpart during the Mid-Winter Ball at Parliament House in Canberra earlier this week. Nine journalist Laurie Oakes, who was reportedly not present at the event, publicised the audio.

Making grand arm gestures like Trump and using short sentences, the prime minister joked about his meeting with the US president in New York in May. He also made fun of opinion polls for himself and Trump and made reference to the latter’s issues with Russia. He was mocking himself in his speech, too, since he is also under pressure due to poor polling.

Unsurprisingly, the leaked audio has made it to US network television. The US Embassy in Australia has released a statement in relation to it, saying it is something they take with “good humour that was intended.”

Australia's Ambassador to Washington Joe Hockey assured it would not damage the relationship of US and Australia. But Turnbull seemed to have learned a lesson as he said he the incident may lead him to take a different approach in his speech at the same event next year. He hinted he might read selected passages from budget paper number two for the next Mid-Winter Ball.

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