JOURNALIST: Australia will not be immune from the shake up and our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s in our Parliament House studios. Julie Bishop, welcome back to Breakfast.
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Fran.
JOURNALIST: You yourself have described Donald Trump as a classic isolationist and protectionist. For Australia, what do you see as the consequences of those tendencies?
JULIE BISHOP: Clearly the majority of voters in the United States have voted for dramatic change, and Donald Trump has promised an ‘America First’ approach to foreign and domestic policy. That means he’ll be looking for trade deals that provide opportunities for American jobs, American industry, American manufacturing. Now that in itself is an ideal that many countries would wish from trade deals. I don’t believe that there will be an impact on the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement; we run a trade deficit with the United States so I expect that that Agreement will continue to provide job opportunities and export opportunities for Australian businesses.
JOURNALIST: Sue but we can’t really live in a, you know, ‘you’re alright, I’m alright Jack’ kind of world now. If he fulfils his, if he acts on his promise to whack tariffs on to China and to Mexico, China in particular, that will have an impact on us economically, won’t it?
JULIE BISHOP: I was talking about the direct impact through the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, but more broadly Donald Trump has indicated that he would not enter into free trade agreements or indeed he will seek to renegotiate existing trade agreements where he feels that the United States has got a raw deal. Now we will have to see the consequences of that, whether other parties to these agreements will be prepared to renegotiate or whether there will be a vacuum in trade deals which most certainly will be filled by others, particularly the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which is currently under negotiation involving China, the South East Asian countries and Australia, but not the United States.
JOURNALIST: And what about a vacuum in a security sense, I mean one of the biggest security challenges is right here in our region in the South China Sea? If as expected, American under Trump pulls back from the region, does that mean that Australia will have to get more engaged with China? We won’t be able to rely on the US undertaking the same level of freedom of navigation exercises, for instance? Trillions of dollars of trade pass through that waterway every year.
JULIE BISHOP: Donald Trump has given a very strong indication that he intends to increase the size of the US military, that he intends to dramatically increase defence spending, and so I think it is too early to say what impact that will have in terms of US presence in the region. There are existing arrangements, there are bases for US marines throughout the region, so there is an established order that will continue to be supported. How this plays out in the long term, of course we will have to see, but that’s why we will be so closely engaged and continue to be engaged with the Trump Transition Team and then the Trump Administration, so that our interests and the interests of our region are at the forefront of the Administration’s mind.
JOURNALIST: Who’s in this Trump Transition Team and what kind of sense do you have of the calibre, if you like, and the leanings of the people he gathers around him?
JULIE BISHOP: I met with their Head of their National Security, that is Mike Rogers, a very experienced Washington figure, he’s been in the space of national security for some time, and I believe we can have a very strong working relationship with him. Others are yet to be determined. I get the sense that he’ll draw heavily on the Senate, the number of experienced Republican Senators, and we know many of them and have been working with many of them for a long time. So over the next few months we will see the Trump Administration take place. There are about 4000 political appointments to be made so there’s going to be considerable turnover in Washington. But we have deep connections with the Republican side of politics and we will certainly be using those networks and connections, and I had a long talk with Ambassador Joe Hockey this morning about the way forward in terms of our engagement.
JOURNALIST: We are currently engaged in military action in Syria with the US. Donald Trump says that in his first 30 days he’ll call the Generals in and demand a new strategy to tackle ISIS, so I guess we need to wait and see whether he’s going to get more adventurous there, whether sort of boots on the ground will be ordered out. But it’s not just defence, and it’s not just security – what about climate change? Didn’t get much of a mention in any of the political debates in this campaign. Today our Prime Minister will ratify Australia’s climate targets set out in the Paris Agreement. Donald Trump wants to pull out of that Paris Agreement; he said that climate change is a Chinese hoax. America can’t really unwind its’ Paris targets yet but going forward do you think that, you know, countries around the world including Australia might have an excuse not to pursue such aggressive targets in the future?
JULIE BISHOP: Well first Fran, on Syria, I welcome new ideas on how to find a solution to the crisis in Syria. There is not a military solution readily available at present and most certainly the humanitarian crisis has to end, so I welcome an opportunity to discuss new ideas with the US Administration on how to resolve the situation in Syria.
On climate change, I will be attending the Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh next week and so will representatives of the Obama Administration, in fact I’m expecting to meet with Secretary John Kerry next week in Marrakesh. So the United States will continue its commitments to the Paris Agreement and it would take some time for it to be unwound, if that were to be in fact Donald Trump’s policy. But it is early days and we need to see how these statements or headlines that were used in the campaign actually manifest in practical policies.
JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop thank you very much for joining us.
JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.
JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop is Australia’s Foreign Minister.
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