The US spy base Pine Gap, on Alice Springs’ doorstep and a likely nuclear target, could be Australia’s prime bargaining chip when it comes to dealing with the US.
But it does not look set to be used that way in discussions between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (at right) and US President Donald Trump about refugees currently in Australian care in Nauru and on Manus Island in PNG.
Mr Turnbull thinks he has a deal with the US, agreed to by Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, for the US to accept the refugees.
But it seems the conditions imposed by Mr Trump may well scuttle the deal: He says it will be subject to “extreme vetting” of the refugees.
The Alice Springs News Online asked Mr Turnbull:
• What does he understand Mr Trump to mean when he refers to “extreme vetting”?
• What will be the criteria?
• How long will it take?
• Who will do the vetting?
• What influence will Australia have over that vetting?
A spokesman for Mr Turnbull replied: “Extreme vetting means very thorough.
“The exact nature of the vetting is a matter for the US.”
Clearly Mr Trump will get his own way.