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Australia ready for anything in ‘Trumpworld’

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Foreign Minister Julie Bishop earned her stripes as Australia’s number one diplomat in the wake of the Trump boilover.

Her disappointment well hidden, she assured the nation a lot of detailed work and analysis had been done on the impact of the Republican moving into the White House.

Previously, she made the point that Ms Clinton was a known quantity with a track record of public service and involvement with Australia and the region.

She found the Democratic candidate, intelligent, pragmatic and engaging. She told the ABC’s Insiders program two weeks ago that Ms Clinton sees the US as having a global leadership role. “Candidate Trump does not.”

Australia’s former ambassador to Washington, Kim Beazley, says Australia will need to be more assertive.

We would need to realise we are a significant nation, he said, and that we “would need to explain to Mr Trump more of the directions we want the US to take in the region”.

“We need to smarten up and not be afraid to have disagreements with the new administration.”

Former foreign minister Bob Carr sees a wild ride ahead for Australia and the world.

If Trump delivers on his campaign rhetoric of launching a trade war with China the implications could be horrendous.

The president-elect promised to slap a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese imports. If that invites retaliation, Australia’s China-dependent economy would be hit very hard.

Ms Bishop says we should all wait until we see the Trump administration’s “formal foreign policies”.

She’s hoping that President Barack Obama, in the lame-duck period between now and the January inauguration, can push the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal through Congress.

That deal involves twelve Asia Pacific countries, but excludes China. If it falls over, Australia may look to one based on the ASEAN nations that includes China.

None of that is simple.

United States diplomats in Canberra were anxious to assure Australians that the alliance and our standing in Washington would not change.

Australia is the second largest contributor of troops in Iraq.
Julie Bishop is optimistic about maintaining Australia’s relationship with the US. Photo: AAP

Julie Bishop says that’s the message the Trump transition team has also been communicating.

But there are other lessons to be learned from the triumph of the erratic rabble rouser. It’s the biggest slap in the face for pollsters and pundits since Harry S Truman defied the odds back in 1948.

Trump clearly tapped into the feelings of exclusion, disillusionment and marginalisation felt particularly in the so called ‘rust belt’ states. These are the ones that felt trade deals had sold out their manufacturing jobs.

He promised a huge result that would be “Brexit plus plus”. It certainly was.

Back in May, Bill Shorten in a more measured response to the Trump candidacy – he previously described him as “barking mad” – said: “It is easy for fundamentalists and preachers of hate to hold out the false promise of certainty and power to the very people who feel marginalised.”

How he would deal with President Trump should he become prime minister is an interesting question.

At least Pauline Hanson was toasting Dona;d Trump’s win

The new man at the top in Washington now has four years to deliver. How he will conjure up the millions of new jobs he promised and the accessible health care to replace Obamacare will be fascinating.

His tax cuts for the top end have been described as trickle-down economics on steroids. If they further widen the gap between the rich and the poor, there will be plenty more angry voters in 2021.

In the meantime, his victory will embolden those on the hard right in Australia.

Pauline Hanson, for one, toasted Donald Trump’s win, with champagne. And did it for the cameras in front of parliament house.

Paul Bongiorno AM is a veteran of the Canberra Press Gallery, with 40 years’ experience covering Australian politics. He tweets  at @PaulBongiorno

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