POLITICS

What Does The Trump Presidency Mean For Australian Politics?

There's a whole lot of soul-searching going on.

10/11/2016 10:51 AM AEDT | Updated 10/11/2016 8:55 PM AEDT
NEW! HIGHLIGHT AND SHARE
Highlight text to share via Facebook and Twitter
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
'We have had Brexit. We have had the rise of One Nation. Now we have had Trump.'

CANBERRA -- There's a whole lot of soul searching going on in Australian politics in light of the surprise Trump ascendancy in the U.S. Presidential election result.

Many federal ministers, MPs and Senators lined up in Canberra Thursday to officially welcome U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, but privately some shook their heads and whispered they were "numbed" by the Trump win.

"We are moving into the unknown," Liberal MP Andrew Hastie told The Huffington Post Australia.

"We have had Brexit. We have had the rise of One Nation. Now we have had Trump."

"And the Coalition would be foolish to neglect the deeper truth about this and that is there is a silent majority."

Queensland based LNP MP Luke Howarth agrees his Government would ignore the U.S result at its peril.

"There was a lot of push back in relation to career politicians," he told HuffPost Australia.

"People who don't want to listen to the Australian people, or the American people in this case, certainly there is a message there for the government."

"It is a real kick up the butt to the left of politics and to the career politicians in the U.S and here."

There's listening to the electorate -- and there's no doubt that's a good idea -- and there's also the politician's job of explaining policies and the unpopular effects of globalisation, the very problem Hillary Clinton got caught out on.

Malcolm Turnbull came to the top job promising he would provide better economic leadership and explain "the challenges and how to seize the opportunities".

Poised to challenge Tony Abbott in September 2015, he said: "What we have not succeeded in doing is translating those values into the policies and the ideas that will excite the Australian people and encourage them to believe and understand that we have a vision for their future".

But Andrew Hastie turned it on Labor, about moving too far to the left, citing issues like immigration and same-sex marriage.

"I think this is a repudiation of that progressive mindset," he told HuffPost Australia. "And we need to be very, very mindful of what the Australia people are thinking."

Labor is still digesting the result.

"I think what it shows though is that where you have a divided society, where you have people left behind the pace of economic change, you will see responses and more extreme political outcomes," Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Thursday.

Labor just has to get past Shorten calling the now President-elect Trump "barking mad" and some of his policies "bonkers" during the campaign.


"I will always call it as I see it," Shorten promised.

"I certainly said that some of his views were extreme and I didn't agree with them but the American people have now spoken."

There are implications for plying the political trade -- with the Trump win showing a clear push back against the "political elite" -- for likely death of international trade deals involving the U.S. and for the U.S./Australia alliance as America appears to be going down a new isolationist path with Trump.

Australia will be "emphasising" to the Trump administration of the importance of the U.S./Australia alliance and the need for stability and leadership in the Asia-Pacific region.

"I see it as an opportunity rather than taking each one of the headline statements and saying well that's precisely the foreign policy," Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Sky News.

"We will be working with the administration to point out the importance of continued U.S leadership in the Asia Pacific."

The U.S. is Australia's most strategically important and steadfast alliance partner, but with Trump and foreign policy, we are heading into the unknown with one of the important Trump campaign messages that allies should pull their own weight.

One example was Trump proposing that Japan and South Korea arm themselves with nuclear weapons. There's concern that instability in the region is now inevitable.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has told ABC 730 that Australia should not worry and certainly not kow-tow to the United States anymore.

Others are not expecting much change.

"The American nation is a force for good for the world. Has been for a long time and will continue to be," Nationals MP Andrew Broad said.

"I am very confident that the sun has come up, as Barack Obama has said. People have headed off to work in Australia, people headed off to work in America. We don't need to overstate that that world is going to end."

But the centrepiece of Barack Obama's pivot to Asia, the 12-nation trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is expected to never become reality.

The TPP, which would have covered 40 percent of world trade including Australia, will be the biggest victim of Trump's solid anti-trade position. A protectionist policy which tapped into American concerns about jobs and debts to nations like China.

"Free-marketism is now dead," MP Bob Katter told reporters in Canberra. He's long been pushing a protectionist line in Australia and has been joined by a resurgent One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team.

"The city suits in their tapestry towers have made a fortune by importing goods, replacing Australian industries and Australian jobs."

"They are the people responsible for the mass migration into the Australia which has undermined our pay and condition and taken our jobs away from us."

"Their day is now over."

Publicly, even in the wake of Trump's win, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has held out hope that the TPP could still be ratified by Congress. Katter accused the Turnbull Government of living in a collective delusion if it thinks the TPP can survive.

"He's learnt nothing, remembered nothing. Well, they are living in a stone age amongst skeletons and dinosaurs now ... the free-marketeers," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is more circumspect, saying the Trump result "doesn't auger well" for the future of the TPP.

Australian MPs are also pondering whether the Trump result was a pure failure of pollsters to do their job.

"People probably snigger when pollsters call up," Liberal MP Andrew Hastie told The Huffington Post Australia.

"It is going to be very, very hard to predict future elections, which make elections more exciting and, you know, nothing is inevitable."

More On This Topic

Advertisement
Advertisement