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Transcript of interview with Leigh Sales: ABC 730: 9 November 2016: US Presidential Election



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PRIME MINISTER

THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP

TRANSCRIPT

9 November 2016

Interview with Leigh Sales ABC 730

E&OE…

LEIGH SALES:

With me now from Parliament House in Canberra is the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who thanks to the time difference between the US and Australia is one of the first world leaders to react to Donald Trump's election. Prime Minister, what is your reaction?

PRIME MINISTER:

We congratulate Donald Trump on his election win. And as I said, President-elect Trump has sought to heal the wounds of the campaign which, of course, was a very hard fought one. We offer our good wishes to Secretary Hillary Clinton for her hard fought campaign as well, but it's notable that despite the bitterness of the campaign and the intensity of it, which was confronting for many Australians - a much more bitter fought campaign than we are used to. But nonetheless, the first thing President-elect Trump has done is sought to bring Americans together. He's paid tribute to Secretary Clinton. He sought to set out how he will govern for all Americans, whether they voted for him or not.

LEIGH SALES:

Earlier this year the former Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he trembled at the thought of Donald Trump becoming the United States President - “that there's an instability about him that bothers me.” Does it bother you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Leigh, as the Australian Prime Minister, my job is to defend Australia's interests and ensure that we work effectively and constructively with the President the United States’ people elect, and they have elected Donald Trump, and after the 20th of January, he will be the President and we will have a strong and effective relationship with his administration just as we have with President Obama's and many administrations before that.

LEIGH SALES:

Donald Trump has already indicated that he doesn't support some of the traditional foundations of American foreign policy, for example he won't guarantee coming to Japan's aid in the event of an attack by North Korea, he has raised the prospect of withdrawing from NATO. How can Australia continue to rely on the ANZUS treaty, why would we trust that a Donald Trump led administration would come to Australia's aid should we require it?

PRIME MINISTER:

The United States will stand by its commitments. The United States’ Administration, the Trump Administration, just like the Obama Administration, will act in defence of America's enduring national interests. You know, Prime Ministers and Presidents, Congressmen and Senators come and go. But the nations enduring interests continue and the alliance between Australia and the United States is set in the enduring national interests of both countries. It's in our mutual interest to stand together and we'll continue to do so through the Trump presidency and the presidencies that follow it.

LEIGH SALES:

Given that I just pointed out that he's made it clear that he doesn't necessarily subscribe to the traditional foundations of American foreign policy what's the source of your confidence there?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's important to remember Leigh that during a hard fought campaign, it's important to remember that great observation another American politician said, which is that they - he's speaking of American politicians - he said, "we campaign in poetry, but we govern in prose." Whether you regard the debates in this last American campaign as poetry, the fact is that when an administration takes office, when a President takes office, he is confronted with the realities of the national interests of the United States, the strategic realities that confront the United States. The importance of its alliances, the significance of the global prosperity that is underpinned by America's commitment to the rules-based international order, especially of course, in the Asia-Pacific so -

LEIGH SALES:

Donald Trump will be now the Commander in Chief. As we know Australia is one of the United States' closest military allies. As Prime Minister could you comfortably deploy Australian troops, risk Australian lives, on the judgement of Donald Trump?

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I say to you that when Australian troops are deployed, when Australian servicemen and women’s lives are put on the line, with their professionalism, their heroism, those decisions are taken in the judgement of their government. The Australian Government. Not any other government.

LEIGH SALES:

You look at what's happened with the Brexit, the election of Trump, with the rise of Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party, with the Nick Xenophon Party here. Citizens are staging their own disruption of political systems in western democracies. What lessons are you taking from all of this for Australian politics?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is very important Leigh to ensure - I made this point actually in the United States quite recently and here too of course - It's very important in this time of unprecedented change, economic change, technological change, it's important for leaders to ensure that everybody in the community, all sectors of the community are included, that the strong growth that we have, for example, in Australia includes all Australians, that sectors and communities are not left behind. And when we defend our free trade and open markets we make it very clear why it is in Australia's interests in our country to do so. We have to make the strongest case we can for open markets and free trade. This was one of the resolutions at the G20 in China just a little while ago.

LEIGH SALES:

Prime Minister, it is such a momentous day in world affairs that we're sticking with US politics tonight but it would be good to have you on the program again soon to talk about some domestic issues. Thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s always a pleasure, thank you Leigh.

Ends