Bill’s had his call, lasted 15 minutes and they talked about Bob Charles

So, Bill English has had his call from Donald Trump.

It can’t have been that important, it lasted 15 minutes and they chatted about Bob Charles’ golfing pedigree.

If Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull got Grumpy Trump, Bill English got “friendly, warm, thoughtful” Trump and even an invite to the White House “if you’re passing by.”

The New Zealand Prime Minister has given more detail on his phone call with the US President Donald Trump, describing Trump as “warm, civil and very thoughtful” during a call which ranged from immigration bans to the Super Bowl.

He said the call, which he took from the roadside on Auckland’s waterfront in between Waitangi Day fixtures, was “a warm and friendly conversation.”

English said Trump had even extended an invitation to the White House – although it was not in the usual diplomatic fashion.

“He has a more casual attitude to diplomatic relationships than is usual, but he conveyed his enthusiasm for meeting at some stage in the White House … ‘well, if you’re passing by’.”

I doubt that Bill will be PM long enough to manage a visit to the White House.

They talked about Trump’s attempt to ban citizens from seven countries entering the US – an Executive Order which has been suspended by the US courts.

English told Trump he disagreed with the action and it was not something New Zealand had done. “He just noted our views. I don’t think that he was surprised by people having a different view.”

The pair also discussed the different ways they dealt with border security.

“The discussion focussed on what steps we take and the US takes to as a way of protecting our citizens from high-risk people coming in, which is clearly at the top of his agenda.”

They also discussed trade – Trump has withdrawn the US from the TPP and is instead planning to try to negotiate bilateral agreements with other countries as part of his “America First” policy.

English said the topic of a New Zealand-US agreement did not come up.

“He’s clearly focused on bigger agreements such as NAFTA. And in any case we want to sort through our own process to be sure that kind of a deal would be better than, say, a TPP proceeding without the US.”

No request was made for New Zealand to do more to combat Isis.

No wonder the call was just 15 minutes. I imagine the answers on all of those were rather curt.

“[There was] I think a good understanding that we discussed our role as a small country, a long way away, pulling our weight in the defence of our own people around the world and working alongside the US to contribute.”

English and Trump also discussed New Zealand golfer Sir Bob Charles and the Superbowl – English said he had thanked Trump for taking time out to call on the day of the Superbowl.

“He knew a reasonable bit about New Zealand. He asked about the economy and is a great admirer of Bob Charles through his golfing contacts.”

I’d hazard a guess and suggest that the main topic of the whole 15 minutes was Bob Charles.

Basically, it was a polite courtesy call where Bill English was kept at arm’s length.

The NZ Herald has probably used more words to describe it than were used in the entire conversation.


– NZ Herald