The White House spokesman keeps mispronouncing the Australian prime minister's name

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/ AFP/ Getty Images.

Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is quite proud of his family heritage. The first of the Turnbulls, John, arrived in the new colony in 1802 and became a farmer on the Hawkesbury.

“The only people who’ve lived in Australia longer than my family are Aboriginal,” he told his Cabinet colleagues a couple of years back.

But the success of the Turnbulls in a distant part of the British Commonwealth hasn’t quite sunk in with the new Trump administration, with White House press secretary Sean Spicer twice mispronouncing the Australian PM’s name during a media conference overnight.

Spicer twice called him “Trumbull” as the debate over how tense the weekend phone conversation between the two leaders had been.

The president had “a very cordial conversation with prime minister Trumbull,” he said.

And as the US president continued to thunder his unhappiness with the deal to take 1,250 refugees from Australian processing camps on Manus Island and Nauru, Trump didn’t exactly stick to the Australian government’s carefully crafted script on mandatory detention, saying they were in “prisons”.

Having called it a “dumb deal” yesterday, overnight the president said he needed to ask questions because “probably well over a thousand illegal immigrants who were in prisons and they were going to take them into this country and I said, ‘Why?’ Just wanted to ask the question … 1250, could be be 2000, could be more than that”.

“I said, ‘Why, why are we doing this? What’s the purpose?’ So we’ll see what happens,” the president said.

While more than 1200 refugees in the two processing centres have already been declared genuine refugees, they will still be subject to what the Trump administration calls “extreme vetting” to honour the deal originally struck between the Obama administration and the Turnbull government.

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