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Beazley on outcome of US election -

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LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Former Labor leader Kim Beazley spent five years in Washington as Australian ambassador, and has long been a student of American politics. He joined me from Perth to give me his take on the election result.

Kim Beazley Americans clearly want this result, they want Donald Trump to be their President. What is that they now want him to do?

KIM BEAZLEY, FORMER AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE US: Well, they don't want him to be President. You'll find we're going to get a real legitimacy issue arise. Donald Trump will win the electoral college, Hillary Clinton will win the popular vote and there'll be a lot of unhappy people in the United States that Donald Trump is gonna have to reach out to and he's shown no capacity to do that to this point.

So there'll be trouble rattling around there. But that's their problem. That's not ours. Our problem is with what he intends to do in the area of foreign policy.

And great pressure is about to come on us. Because we are members of the only alliance his team unreservedly approves of.

And because some of his initiatives are going to seriously disturb people, in the east Asian and South-East Asian area, they're going to look to us to play some sort of mitigating role.

They won't say that overtly but they'll come to us privately and they'll be wanting to hear from us privately on what we intend to do about it.

When Trump comes in, in a couple of months, we're gonna have to really sit down and think through how we handle our responsibilities here because running away is not an option.

LEIGH SALES: How do you think we should handle them?

KIM BEAZLEY: You know, there's some sort of view in Australia that we're little - we're just supine recipients of direction and advice from the US.

Far from the truth that. We have our own point of view about what our interests are and frankly what theirs are.

And how do we handle it? We handle it by using all the tools we have to get into an influence policy and there are a lot. When I was in the embassy in Washington we're always into senior policy decision making zones.

We just continue that process. And our ministers start to turn up in greater numbers in the United States. At least for a time. We need to be mindful of the need to engage with them. After all, the US is where all our money's going.

It's a Australian investment is rising rapidly in the United States and the more money this we have to be invested through our superannuation funds, the more it's turning up there.

Lots more than frankly than turns up in China or anywhere else in South-East Asia. That's going to continue.

LEIGH SALES: Sorry if I can just pick you up on that point, on the economy. What do you think the aspects of the Australian economy that are most exposed and is there anything Australia can do to mitigate that risk?

KIM BEAZLEY: I don't think the economy is exposed per se. I mean, movements in the stock market's one thing. But I suppose the exposure will come indirectly. And that is if he really does start whacking tariffs on the Asia region and China specifically, which he can do under the authority that the President has, that is going to be destabilising regionally in the region where most of our exports go.

Now that's going to be a problematic thing and that's one of the reasons we should engage in the way in which I have suggested.

LEIGH SALES: Some of what you're talking about in terms of the way we engage assumes rationality on the part of other player but given that what we have witnessed from Trump is that he is erratic, that he is loose with the truth, how can he be viewed as a reliable negotiating partner?

KIM BEAZLEY: Well, one of the things that's a challenge for him now is to appear one. He can't wander around being erratic and lecturing people over whom you've got no authority.

And he is under challenge now. He's got to deliver.

LEIGH SALES: Do you think he can?

KIM BEAZLEY: If he doesn't start to deliver, he's not shown the ability as you say to this point. But it depends who he appoints. If he starts appointing reasonably sensible treasury spokesman, state spokespersons, defence and the rest of it, and he just lets them run, by and large, on his policy, no reason why he shouldn't.

He'll be in a strong position I think - the Republicans will be in the Congress. I think they're highly likely, they've certainly retained the House and given that it will be a Republican vice President they've certainly retained the Senate.

So there's that side of it which will be pleasing Republicans. There'll be other sides that won't. The Republicans don't like his line. The Republicans don't have the views that Donald Trump has. So, he's gonna have some difficult conversations as time goes by.

LEIGH SALES: And just finally are you optimistic or pessimistic about the United States' ability to weather those difficulties?

KIM BEAZLEY: Optimistic. They're very powerful. And I mean they may abandon or at least suspend for a period of time the sort of leadership they've offered to the idea of the western alliance, the idea of global free trade rules-based environment, all these things Trump tends to despise, but they're not going to walk away from being massively powerful.

They're going through an industrial revival, they're going through a major economic surge. The Republicans and he wants to invest much more in US defence capabilities. They'll going to be a formidable bunch to handle. They're always a formidable bunch to handle. They're going to be particularly formidable now.

LEIGH SALES: Many thanks for your insights this evening.

KIM BEAZLEY: Good to be with you.