Australia should turn to Asia, not Trump: Labor 

Donald Trump presidency should force rethink of US alliance, says ALP’s Penny Wong
The Labor party has decided to step back from Donald Trump’s America and reassess while putting more emphasis on Asia, a break in the longstanding bipartisan consensus towards Australia’s chief ally.
While stating that Labor remains committed to the alliance with the US, the party’s foreign affairs spokerperson, Penny Wong, says that “we should not be naïve”.
“We are at a change point, and face the possibility of a very different world and a very different America,” she writes in an opinion piece for Fairfax Media.
“We need to consider a broader range of scenarios than was previously within contemplation.”

While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has emphasised continuity and warmth in the relationship after his congratulatory phone call to Mr Trump, Labor is choosing some discontinuity and distance.

Senator Wong criticises Mr Turnbull for a response she says is “reminiscent of the chest-beating approach to global events championed by former Prime Minister Abbott.”
The last significant breach in bipartisanship on the US was a dozen years ago when then Labor leader Mark Latham demanded Australian troops in Iraq be “home by Christmas”.
It is time for Australia to work more closely with countries in Asia, she says.

Senator Penny Wong says Australia should “not be naive” about the future of our diplomatic relations.
“We need to work with our regional partners during this period of uncertainty to identify areas of common interest and jointly seek to influence US thinking on these,” Senator Wong writes.

First amongst these, she says, is how to keep the US constructively engaged in Asia: “Put simply, Australia needs a better road map in Asia.”
President-elect Trump has said he would be prepared to walk away from key US allies unless they paid more for American …

President-elect Trump has said he would be prepared to walk away from key US allies unless they paid more for American protection. Photo: AP

This is consistent with the urgings of Labor elder statesmen such as the foreign affairs minister in the Hawke government, Gareth Evans, who this week has advised: “Less America. More Asia.”
And, like her leader, Bill Shorten, Senator Wong repudiates Mr Trump’s campaign attacks on women, Mexicans, Muslims, free trade and open economies.
Senator Wong and Labor leader Bill Shorten are advocating a shift to Asia, over Trump’s America.

Senator Wong and Labor leader Bill Shorten are advocating a shift to Asia, over Trump’s America. 

Evidently not reassured by the president-elect’s rhetorical moderation over the past week, Ms Wong warns: “Most observers discounted that Mr Trump could win. We should now know better than to simply discount that he might do what he promised.”
Among other things, in campaigning he said he would be prepared to walk away from key US allies including Japan, South Korea and NATO unless they paid more for American protection.

Lowy Institute’s Michael Fullilove says Australia must “prosecute a larger foreign policy”. 
He said that “America cannot be the world’s policeman any more”. And he promised to impose punitive tariffs of 45 per cent on all imports from China.
Chinese state-owned media have threatened to retaliate if he should do so.
Ms Wong says: “We need to consider the possibility of an American approach to the region that prioritises economic transactions rather than soft power, inclusiveness, cooperation and multilateralism.
The executive director of the Lowy Institute, Michael Fullilove, endorsed Senator Wong’s turn to Asia.
She is right that the advent of Mr Trump “reinforces the need for Australians to prosecute a larger foreign policy,” says Mr Fullilove.
“We can’t look at everything through an alliance prism. We need to thicken our relationships with leading Asian powers, including China but also India, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam and others. We need to do more with like-minded countries in Asia and Europe.”
But, he said, “we should do nothing to encourage the drawing-down in Asia of an old ally – one that remains the most powerful country in the world and with which we share many common views. On the contrary, we should use our influence and credit in Washington to try to encourage Mr Trump to continue a policy of strong and intelligent leadership in Asia.”

One Comment Add yours

  1. Annie says:

    Maybe Labor should wait to see how Trump actually governs before burning Australia’s bridges with the US. Wong and Shorten should remember they are spokespeople and in the media and should watch what they’re saying. Be very careful. Don’t put Australia at risk because you’re jumping on the protest bandwagon.


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