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Thursday, 10 November 2016
Page: 2489

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:21): May I take this opportunity on behalf of the Australian government to congratulate Mr Donald Trump on his election as the 45th President of the United States. I entirely disassociate the government from the foolish remarks that have come from Senator Di Natale. Senator Di Natale, you lead a party which has a substantial voice in Australian politics. With your status as a party leader and your power in this chamber comes responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is always to serve the Australian national interest. I must say to you, Senator Di Natale, that the foolish, abusive, intemperate, insulting remarks that you have just directed at the President-elect the United States of America, regardless of your personal feelings, are inimical to the national interest of this country. You, Senator Di Natale, as the leader of a substantial party in this parliament, should have the judgement and the wisdom, if you have a criticism to make of the President-elect of the United States, to do so in a temperate, reasoned and respectful manner.

As the Minister for Defence has said, the alliance between Australia and the United States has lasted for 65 years, since the ANZUS treaty in 1951—one of the crowning diplomatic achievements of the Menzies government. It is correct that Australia and the United States have fought shoulder to shoulder in every major conflict of the 20th century and into the 21st century. In that military cooperation we have been guided by common values: the values of liberty and democracy. Regardless of who is the President of the United States of America, regardless of whether it is a Democrat or Republican administration, the fundamental values of the United States of America as enshrined in their constitution and bill of rights and a long democratic tradition endure. And they are values that we share. There will be political differences from time to time, although I am pleased to say there are very few. Any Australian government, whether a coalition government or a Labor government, will work together with any American administration, whether a Democrat administration or a Republican administration, whomsoever the Prime Minister might be and whomsoever the President might be. The functionality and the strength of that relationship is one of the things that undergird our nation's security—as a military ally, which has guaranteed under the ANZUS agreement to defend Australia, and as a partner in so many ways in international law enforcement; in counterterrorism; and through the Five Eyes community in the sharing of intelligence. I can tell you, Senator Di Natale, there have been terrorist events in Australia in the last two years interdicted because of our access to intelligence through the Five Eyes community that has been shared with us by the Americans. Nothing is more critical to our national security and our strategic security in the world than the ANZUS alliance. You are entitled to have your differences, Senator Di Natale, but what you are not entitled to do as a party leader is to sacrifice or prejudice the Australian national interest for the sake of your own self-indulgence, as you have done in this chamber today.

The Australian government has already reached out to the incoming Trump administration and their transition team, and we look forward to working with President Trump and members of his administration, as every Australian government of either political flavour would do with any American administration.