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Transcript of doorstop interview: Canberra: 9 November 2016: US Presidential Election



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SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG OPPOSITION LEADER IN THE SENATE SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

E&OE TRANSCRIPT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW CANBERRA WEDNESDAY, 9 NOVEMBER 2016

SUBJECT: US Presidential Election

JOURNALIST: Bill Shorten might be the Prime Minister after the next election where he will be having to negotiate with Donald Trump. Given that he described Donald Trump, some of his policies, as being barking mad, how do you think Bill Shorten as a potential future Prime Minister could deal with Donald Trump?

SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: Let’s be clear a lot of things were said about Mr Trump by politicians on both sides. The Prime Minister described some of Mr Trump’s comments as loathsome. I think Minister Frydenberg described him as a dropkick. A lot of light and heat in this election campaign and a lot of things said here in Australia, and also, obviously, in the United States, from the Republicans as well as Democrats.

Whatever the final result is, I think that light and heat needs to be put behind us. Both parties of Government here in Australia need to focus on the importance of the US Alliance, on ensuring we assert Australia’s national interest, we continue to encourage those matters which are in Australia’s national interest. So, I hope that will occur after the result is clear.

INTERVIEWER: Bill Shorten might have personal views about Donald Trump, but should he have expressed those views so publicly?

WONG: I refer you to my previous answer. The Prime Minister also described some of his comments as loathsome and other things were said by other Members of Parliament.

Again what I’d say is once the election is clear some of the drama of the election campaign, both in the US and here in Australia, will become a thing of the past and parties will focus very clearly on the new Administration and how best to assert, on a bipartisan basis, Australia’s national interest.

JOURNALIST: But Bill Shorten just this morning said someone who can’t respect women, he can’t respect them. So how can you expect him to work potentially with Mr Trump?

WONG: And Mr Pyne made some comments this morning as well about spruiking a Clinton win. So let’s be clear lots have been said in the context of this election campaign, but let’s also be clear about what is important.

JOURNALIST: So do you think Australia can work well with Mr Trump if he is President?

WONG: My view is this, and it has been my consistent position; regardless of people’s personal views, regardless of differences, for example in domestic politics, that ultimately the US Alliance is enduring, and it is strong and it is bigger than any individual.

JOURNALIST: Would it be wise for Australia to consider whether to take a more independent course with our foreign policy if those tensions do continue into the Trump Presidency?

WONG: There’s a range of hypotheticals in that. My answer to the question is the Alliance has been part of Australia’s foreign policy for decades. It is enduring, it is strong. It has been navigated through changes of President, changes of Prime Minister and this is no different.

ENDS

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