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Christopher Pyne on Australia's relationship with Donald Trump -

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STAN GRANT, PRESENTER: So, between leaks of phone calls and presidential tweets, this has certainly been a busy week and the uncertainty and confusion persists.

The Government has been on the defensive about the future of the asylum seeker deal and Malcolm Turnbull's handling of President Trump.

Earlier I spoke to Cabinet Minister Christopher Pyne.

Minister, it's good to have you with us. You have assured us that you are convinced Donald Trump will respect the asylum seeker deal but that doesn't tell us to what extent, does it?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE, DEFENCE INDUSTRY MINISTER: Well, the deal with the Obama administration was that they would run the vetting process over the asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island and as many as passed the vetting process, they would take to the United States and Donald Trump has reaffirmed that commitment on the weekend, as has his White House spokesman as recently as this morning and again earlier this week and the State Department did yesterday and the embassy in Canberra.

So we are convinced, I am convinced that the deal will be met and that will mean that the people will leave Nauru and Manus Island, which is, of course, what we all want to happen.

STAN GRANT: But given that he has described it as a "dumb" deal, he has questioned why and he has now upped the ante when it comes to the vetting process with the extreme vetting, what is the likelihood that any significant number will in fact be taken?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It is not a deal that Donald Trump would have done, obviously, he has made that perfectly clear.

But he has also recommitted to the deal in a conversation with the Prime Minister on the weekend ...

STAN GRANT: There is no guarantee as to what that will ultimately mean though, we could be talking about a very small number, if any?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Extreme vetting to the United States is basically the same process that Australia and the United States have operated for many years, in concert with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and we are very confident that the work we have done and the American officials have been there since December, will result in a deal that means most people will leave Manus Island ...

STAN GRANT: Most of the 1,200?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, it was never the case that everyone on Manus and Nauru would necessarily fit within this deal with the United States but the figure that has been bandied about has been 1,250 and we have absolutely no reason to believe that that deal won't be fulfilled, as was the commitment by the Obama administration and now the commitment by Donald Trump.

STAN GRANT: Okay, let's look at the relationship in general.

There has been criticism of Malcolm Turnbull that he has not been stronger in criticising President Trump, as other leaders from other countries have done and criticising the travel ban, could he have been more forceful?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, Stan, what has been perfectly obvious, by the revelation of the conversation, is that far from not being strong enough with the United States, Malcolm Turnbull could not have been stronger.

STAN GRANT: What do you mean by that? Because we don't have the transcript of that conversation, we don't know what Malcolm Turnbull said.

What do you understand about how strong he was and what he actually said to President Trump?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, quite obviously he was standing up for Australia's interests and, firmly putting the views of Australia about the deal that the Obama administration did with the Turnbull Government, which resulted in Donald Trump recommitting to that deal.

So Bill Shorten, who likes to have a bob each way, earlier this week was saying that Malcolm Turnbull should be tougher and of course, now he is saying quite the opposite.

He doesn't know whether he is Arthur or Martha when it comes to these issues.

Whereas, Malcolm Turnbull has acted like a prime minister would. He has been statesman-like, firm, representing Australia's interests and getting outcomes.

And thank goodness he is the Prime Minister because if Bill Shorten had been the Prime Minister, those people would still be in Nauru and Manus Island and maybe that is what Bill Shorten wants during a Turnbull Government because she a very cynical, dodgy Labor politician.

STAN GRANT: You seem to be familiar with the conversation then that you know that Malcolm Turnbull was very forceful in it. What did he say to Donald Trump?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, Stan, all I know about the conversation is what has been revealed by the Washington Post...

STAN GRANT: So you don't know that Malcolm Turnbull was in fact forceful in that conversation, he hasn't told you that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: (Laughs) Stan, well, you can read the same reports that I have read, Stan and I don't need to read, I don't need to read any more than that.

STAN GRANT: The reports that I have read said that Donald Trump had blasted Malcolm Turnbull and ended the phone call abruptly.

You're saying Malcolm Turnbull was forceful in the conversation but now you're saying you don't know what he actually said?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, Stan, I think you are splitting hairs. The reality is we got the outcome that the Australian Government sought because Malcolm Turnbull stood up for Australia's interests.

And what we want is for the people on Manus and Nauru to be resettled in the United States or elsewhere so that the strong message is sent to people smugglers that we are not open for business.

On the other hand, Labor have undermined that deal from the very beginning and in my view, cynically want the refugees or asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island to stay there because it suits Bill Shorten's base political interests.

STAN GRANT: You've made that point but we also know now that you don't actually know what took place in that conversation.

But I want to move on.

Bob Carr, the former foreign minister is just one, others have said this as well, the rules have changed now with Donald Trump and the relationship has fundamentally changed and that Australia needs to look again, not at throwing out the alliance but how we relate to the United States.

Do you accept that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No. Bob Carr is borderline anti-American and pro-Chinese.

STAN GRANT: He said that he still supports the American alliance.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: He has said that all along.

STAN GRANT: He says the times have changed.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, Bob Carr is the busted flush when it comes to foreign policy.

The reality is that our American alliance is vitally important to Australia's interests. And I can tell you as defence industry minister, that our relationship has never been stronger.

We are the maintenance, sustainment hub for example for Asia-Pacific, for the Joint Strike Fighter program.

Naval ship building program is closely aligned and interoperable with the United States' navy.

We are building our capability by $195 billion over the next 10 years, thanks to the Turnbull Government and we are working closely with maximising our involvement in the United States military build-up under Donald Trump.

And what has happened in the last week is what has been proven is we have a robust and strong relationship.

And sure, pro-Chinese, former foreign ministers will use this opportunity to try and, once again, undermine the US alliance but quite frankly, they don't speak for the government and I don't believe they speak for the Labor Party.

STAN GRANT: Just finally, in the lead-up to the US election, you described the prospect of a President Trump as terrifying, you said it makes democracy look kind of weird and that the election of Hillary Clinton would in fact be the best outcome for Australia.

After the events of this week, have your worst fears been realised?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, I think, Stan I was commenting on the US election campaign and particularly on a report where Hillary Clinton and Obama, and Barack Obama, being accused of being the agents of the devil and I was pointing out that US elections are quite weird in comparison to ours.

STAN GRANT: Oh no, but you said Donald Trump is terrifying and that a win for Hillary Clinton would be the best outcome for Australia, is that what has been proven this week?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, the best outcome for Australia is that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) remain in place with open markets, creating jobs and investment.

Donald Trump hasn't supported that but we are still working on making sure that that TPP can stay in place.

What is good for Australia is a strong US alliance. What has been perfectly clear this week is that Donald Trump has recommitted to an agreement that the previous administration made and, in my own portfolio, we are moving at pace to increase our exports to the United States, to increase our investments there and theirs here creating more jobs and investment.

STAN GRANT: Minister, thank you again for joining us. Good to talk to you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It is a pleasure, Stan, thank you.