JOURNALIST: Back home, the government has vowed to work with Donald Trump to ensure our relationship remains as strong as ever with the US. The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us now from Canberra. Good morning to you.
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Lisa.
JOURNALIST: Minister, be honest, is this the result you expected?
JULIE BISHOP: I had been anticipating that Donald Trump would be a very competitive candidate from the moment he won the Republican nomination. That's why the Australian Government has been preparing for either a Trump win or a Clinton win, and we are well placed to engage very constructively and productively with the trump transition team. In the meantime we work with the Obama Administration and I think it's heartening to see that President Obama has promised a seamless transition to the new Administration. We see many opportunities to work very productively in Australia's national interest with the new President and his Administration.
JOURNALIST: Australia has always held important security ties with the US. We have that US force initiated by Barack Obama in Northern Australia. Do you see any change there?
JULIE BISHOP: No, I don't. I believe that Australia is viewed by the incoming Trump Administration as a strong ally, a strategic partner. We have very deep defence ties that are long- standing, and I expect that to continue. President-elect Trump has been critical of other nations for not contributing sufficiently to their own military defence. Well, the Coalition Government here in Australia has committed to increase our defence spending. We have a significant Defence White Paper, a target of 2% of our GDP spent on defence spending. I believe Australia will be seen in a positive light by the new Trump Administration, and we intend to capitalise on that.
JOURNALIST: Looking at our region in particular, Donald Trump has already said that Japan and South Korea are on their own when it comes to North Korea and their nuclear weapons, in fact Mr Trump is in favour of Japan developing nuclear weapons. This is a new world order.
JULIE BISHOP: Japan is a country that strongly advocates nuclear non-proliferation, even though it has civilian nuclear power, but I believe that countries welcoming the new Presidency will seek to make their case known to the Administration, and in our region, the leadership of our countries, the leadership of our countries in the Asia Pacific will be seeking more US leadership, not less in the Asia Pacific. So it's early days to see how some of the foreign policy pronouncements will actually work in a practical sense but we will certainly be putting forward Australia's national interest and those of our region as soon as we can.
JOURNALIST: Donald Trump has also voiced his strong opposition to the Trans Pacific trade deal. He's actually said he's going to tear that up. Where does Australia stand in our trade deal with America?
JULIE BISHOP: Well neither candidate supported the Trans Pacific Partnership in the current form, and so whomever became President this was always going to be a challenge. The point that we have been making to the Obama Administration and, of course, there is still an opportunity for President Obama to seek to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership deal, although that is less likely under a President Trump-elect, but what can happen is that the new Administration may seek to renegotiate it. If they don't, Australia is already part of another trade agreement that involves China and the South East Asian countries and we would continue to pursue that because we are an export oriented country. Our economy depends on our ability to sell goods and services overseas. So we'll continue to seek trade deals that benefit Australia wherever we can.
JOURNALIST: Currently we buy more from America than America buys from us, so why would America want to rip that up?
JULIE BISHOP: America will not rip up the US-Australian Free Trade Agreement. We have a bilateral agreement with the United States, it's about 10 years old and we run a trade deficit, the United States runs a trade surplus. So I can't imagine that that will be the focus of the Administration. It's a separate trade deal that involves about 12 countries, the Trans Pacific Partnership, that is the focus of President-elect Trump’s attention.
JOURNALIST: Alright, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, we appreciate your time this morning.
JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.
- Ends -
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555