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Transcript of interview: Studio 10: 9 November 2016: US Presidential Election

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SUBJECT: US Presidential Election

INTERVIEWER: As Donald Trump edges towards victory in the American presidential race, political leaders around the world are starting to take stock. Let’s cross now to Parliament House in Canberra and Opposition Leader in the Senate, Penny Wong. What are your thoughts on what appears to be a Trump victory?

SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: Certainly he is leading at the moment. This is not the result that many people expected. But ultimately, this is a decision for the American people. Whomever the President is, I think both parties of Government in Australia will work with that US administration as we all have with US Administrations from both sides of politics in the United States.

INTERVIEWER: Senator Wong, is that the outcome you expected?

WONG: Certainly the public polling suggested something else but I have also seen, as we all have, polling often gets it wrong and we have seen some unusual results around the world. What it does remind us though is that here in Australia, why it is important that we continue to respond to people's concerns around inequality. Why we have to make sure that as we grow the economy, we grow it for everyone.

INTERVIEWER: Senator, there is a lot of surprise over this apparent election result. What will it mean for stability on I suppose a national and international level because a lot of people are quite fearful now of what such result could mean?

WONG: That is a very good question and when things are people, markets, respond to the unexpected rather than pricing in what is expected, But I think that will stabilise over time as people get used to the result, as more information comes about what is likely to happen, should Mr Trump become President. Of course President Obama remains president until January.

What I would say is this: the US Alliance is an important pillar of Australia's foreign policy and will continue to be an important aspect of Australia's foreign policy.

Regardless of who is in the White House. It is a strong and enduring relationship and that will continue.

INTERVIEWER: I imagine the transfer of the keys to the White House will be awkward given the war that Donald Trump has raised against Barack Obama and where he was born. It is going to pose problems for other political leaders. How is Bill Shorten going to deal with Donald Trump as the next President when he has said that he is quite frankly batty, is barking mad, completely unsuitable for the job. How do you put that behind you?

WONG: It's been an unusual campaign hasn’t it? We’ve also had the Australian Prime Minister describes some things that Donald Trump said as loathsome. We’ve had other things said by both sides of politics.

A lot of light and heat in this campaign. Republicans also criticising Mr Trump. When the result is clear, what should happen is that both sides of politics should put the partisanship behind us because we are bipartisan when it comes to the US Alliance. We should be bipartisan in asserting our national interest in the context of that Alliance. I hope and trust that will happen.

INTERVIEWER: Penny, this is Kim Hoggard, I’m a former official in the US Government and I attended many ANZUS meetings of the Australian American Alliance, which as you say is a very strong Alliance. The main concern for me is that he is very unpredictable, a possible President Trump. Do you think Australia needs to be thinking of some contingency plans about how they would deal with this sort of administration which seems to fly by the seat of its pants?

WONG: Of course we need to ensure that we engage with the new Administration, that we continue to outline and assert Australia's national interest. But let's remember, this Alliance is enduring and it is strong and it has been navigated through many different political administrations. Bob Hawke and Ronald Reagan, you’ve had a Democrat President and a Coalition Prime Minister, all prime ministers in this recent period. So, this is not an unusual situation to have political change into one of the two nations.

You are right. We need to continue as always as successive generations of Australians have two assert our views and our national interest. The Alliance is enduring and it is strong and that is how it will stay.

INTERVIEWER: You say the Alliance is enduring and strong, yet if Trump becomes the President, he does not support free trade. America would withdraw, really from this part of the world which would give China the opportunity to fill the vacuum. How do you feel that will benefit Australia?

WONG: One of the issues that we should continue to articulate in our national interest is precisely the one you have raised and that is engagement in the region. US engagement in the region has been a key factor in security in this region, stability in this region, which has been a platform for the economic growth we have seen over many years in this region.

So one of the things we would continue to assert, and that I believe would be on a bipartisan basis, something both parties of government would continue to very clearly

outline, is the encouragement for the US to stay engaged in this region. We think that in Australia's interest. We think that is in America’s interest and it’s in the world’s interest.

INTERVIEWER: Senator Penny Wong joining from Canberra, thank you very much