News World US Election 2016: Trump not the first choice for Australian politicians

US Election 2016: Trump not the first choice for Australian politicians

Donald Trump
Supporters swamp Donald Trump as he prepares to make his acceptance speech. Photo: Getty
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Australia has a new US President and not everyone is happy.

With the election of Donald Trump to the White House, political players in Australia are scrambling to appear diplomatic in the face of what many believed could be a nightmare for this country.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten looked grim during Question Time on Wednesday when handed an update of the presidential count.

Earlier in the day he repeated his distaste for a President Trump.

“I think it is probably in Australia’s foreign-policy interest to see a President Hillary Clinton elected,” he said.

“We will work with whoever the American people elect. But I have also made my views clear about the other fellow, Donald Trump. Someone who can’t respect women, I can’t respect them.”

Mr Shorten went on to say he would work with the new president for the sake of the Australia-US alliance.

As it became clearer that a Trump presidency was the likely outcome, it was left to shadow foreign minister Penny Wong to be Labor’s chief diplomat.

“Look there’s a lot of things said in the light and heat of this particular election campaign. I think what is important after the result is clear, certainly from the Australian perspective, is for both parties to work together,” Senator Wong said.

“We need to continue to assert Australia’s national interest. We need to encourage Mr Trump… to stay engaged in our region.”

Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull told a media conference Australia’s relationship with the US would not be changed.

“The ties that bind Australia and the US are strong; they are based on our enduring national interests,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We have so much in common, shared values, democracy, the rule of law, maintaining the international order in which our security and national interest depends.”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made it clear the Australian Government was more than prepared to work with a Trump presidency.

Julie Bishop said the government had been reaching out to both the Trump and Clinton camps. Photo: AAP

“The new administration will have a number of challenges in this region and we want to work constructively with the new administration …,” she said.

“We work with many global leaders with various qualities, characteristics and traits.”   

 Ms Bishop said the government had been reaching out to both camps during the presidential race and preparing for either outcome.

But she said the free trade agreement between the two nations should not be adversely affected by a Trump presidency.

“I don’t expect there to be any change to the Australian-United States Free Trade Agreement,” she said. “It hasn’t been mentioned.”

On the wider and more controversial Trans Pacific Partnership, she said while neither Mr Trump nor Mrs Clinton supported it, the agreement was likely to be passed before Barack Obama leaves office.

“Over the next 73 days President Obama still has full constitutional and executive authority as President of the United States,” Ms Bishop said.

Her predecessor as foreign minister Bob Carr, was less diplomatic however – suggesting it was the end of the world as we know it.

“This is a break in the concept of American global leadership,” he said.

This is America turning its back, quite possibly, on global leadership as we know it.
Former foreign secretary Bob Carr

Describing Mr Trump as a radical, Mr Carr said his election was a “tectonic shift” in world politics. 

“There has never been a person nominated to the US presidency who has had such a cavalier approach to nuclear weapons,” he said.

Former Australian ambassador to Washington, Kim Beazley, said Australia would have to use all its influence with the new American administration to keep the US’s interest in this region.

Senator Bob Carr on Wednesday
Former foreign minister Bob Carr described Mr Trump as a radical. Photo: ABC

“We have got a lot at stake in this, in Australia, because the US is a close ally,” Mr Beazley said.

“The single fact is we are embedded in each other.”

But he noted, light-heartedly, that Australia had the only alliance with the US of which Mr Trump approved.

At election watch events around the country hosted by the US Embassy and consulates, Australian guests were asked to “vote” online for their presidential preference.

In Sydney Mrs Clinton gained 81% of the vote, in Canberra she got 85%, in Perth 90% and in Melbourne the failed candidate attracted 100% of the participants’ “fun vote”.