Malcolm Turnbull and wife Lucy, with Mike Pence and wife Karen (holding Malcolm Turnbull’s granddaughter Alice) at Kirribilli House on Saturday April 22 2017. With Turnbull’s daughter Daisy (far right) and her husband James Brown (far left), and Pence’s daughters Charlotte and Audrey.?? Photo: Twitter: Malcolm TurnbullRepublican elder statesman Senator John McCain is expected to meet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Australia within weeks, coming on the heels of a meeting with President Donald Trump in New York.
The 75-year American alliance, trade and international security will be on the agenda as the former presidential candidate visits Sydney and Canberra as a guest of Sydney University’s United States Studies Centre.
Fairfax Media understands Senator McCain will deliver a keynote speech on America’s overseas alliances, following an invitation from the centre’s research director James Brown, Mr Turnbull’s son-in-law.
Part of a wider trip through Asia, the visit is planned for May and comes after US Vice President Mike Pence visited Australia last week.
Senator McCain, a former prisoner of war and 2008 Republican candidate for the White House, intervened in the diplomatic ructions caused by President Trump’s now infamous phone call with Mr Turnbull in January.
The two leaders clashed over a refugee people swap deal signed under the Obama administration, causing days of headlines about the usually rock solid alliance, seeing Senator McCain and other senior Republicans call out the president’s harmful treatment of Australia.
Mr Trump called the plan to resettle asylum seekers held in Australian detention on Manus Island and Nauru “the worst deal ever”.
A regular critic and target of Mr Trump, the respected Arizona senator later called Australia’s ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, to express support for the alliance, including over military and intelligence cooperation and deployment on US Marines in the Northern Territory.
“I asked Ambassador Hockey to convey to the people of Australia that their American brothers and sisters value our historic alliance, honour the sacrifice of the Australians who have served and are serving by our side, and remain committed to the safer, freer, and better world that Australia does far more than its fair share to protect and promote,” he said at the time.
Senator McCain has been a regular host of Australian leaders in Washington DC and has visited Australia throughout his career, including to meet John Howard in Sydney in 2006.
The Turnbull government has been working actively to restore relations with Mr Trump and confirmed the pair would meet in New York next week, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea.
The meeting will take place on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, now a museum on the Hudson river.