JOURNALIST: Minister, do you think that Hillary Clinton still has a chance or is a Donald Trump Presidency almost certain?
JULIE BISHOP: At this stage the count is continuing, polls are closing on the West Coast and in the last state, the 50th state Alaska, polls have just closed. So while the count continues the result is not yet known, however at this stage it would appear that Donald Trump is most likely to claim the Presidency of the United States.
JOURNALIST: You and the Prime Minister were watching this very closely during Question Time, what were you thinking? Because it was only yesterday that Christopher Pyne said that a Hillary Clinton victory would be a better outcome for Australia.
JULIE BISHOP: The Prime Minister and I have been watching this election very closely because of course a change in the US Presidency is a momentous occasion at any time. On this particular occasion, there are significant strategic and economic interests that Australia has and any change in foreign policy from the United States can have an impact on Australia. During Question Time the Prime Minister and I were following the polls closely as they came to hand and at this stage it would appear that Donald Trump will claim the Presidency, but there have been early claims before, for example in the year 2000, which were then later overturned.
JOURNALIST: What would a Trump Presidency mean for Australia? He’s an isolationist, he’s opposed to free trade, he’s threatened to pull out of some of America’s key international alliances. What is this going to mean for a country like Australia?
JULIE BISHOP: Well first, should Donald Trump win the Presidency it may well follow that the Republicans win a majority in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, and if that were to occur we may well see the end of the bitter gridlock that has beset United States politics for some time now. In terms of the impact on Australia, it’s early days. We of course have been following the policy pronouncements of each candidate throughout this very long campaign, and they are yet to be fully formed. We are following very closely both candidates’ words and policies in relation to trade, because of course we have a significant trade agreement with the United States – and might I say there is no indication at all that Donald Trump would want to renegotiate the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement. It has been in place for 10 years, we run a trade deficit with the United States, the US has a considerable surplus so it is unlikely to change. In relation to the Trans Pacific Partnership, which is a regional trade agreement, we are concerned that both candidates were opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership in its current form.
JOURNALIST: Yeah so what do you think the chances are that it could be passed by President Obama before he leaves office in the lame duck sessions?
JULIE BISHOP: We understand that President Obama and his Administration are determined to do their best to pass that free trade agreement during this transition period known as the ‘lame duck period’, and we are urging the US Congress to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement because…
JOURNALIST: Are you confident that it will?
JULIE BISHOP: Well that will be up to the Republicans and the Democrats in the House and the Senate. But we see it as a very important strategic as well as economic agreement for our region, and should it not pass it will leave a vacuum and that vacuum will be very quickly filled by the RCEP, which is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership with ASEAN, China and Australia at its core, but it doesn’t include the United States.
JOURNALIST: Are you personally disappointed that it looks like there won’t be a woman President of the United States?
JULIE BISHOP: Well I don’t have a vote. It’s a matter for the American people in their wisdom to choose whom they wish to have as the President of the United States, and the Australian Government is prepared and ready to work constructively with whomever the people of the United States choose as their President.
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