Australian experts, politicians closely watching “Trump effect”


Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, raising questions about what impact his presidency will have around the globe, including here in Australia.

The rise of Trump has led to uncertainty, with his rhetoric suggesting the possibility of a trade war and other protectionist measures.

Tom Switzer, senior fellow of the United States Study Center in Sydney, told Xinhua that Australia should and will continue following the United States on policy, but should ensure the relationship does not affect Australian interests.

Not all view the Australia-U.S. relationship in the same way, however, with James Laurenceson, deputy director of the Australia-China Relations Institute, told Xinhua he does not follow the view that Australia always follows the United States.

“Look at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. We were under pressure from the United States not to join that, we joined it. When it comes to trade deals, we are heavily in favor of RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) and a free trade area championed by China. We want that too,” Laurencenson said.

“The truth is that we follow our own national interests. So in each case we are going to weigh up those interests.”

Australian Senator Nick Xenophon told Xinhua that, although he feels hesitant on Trump and said he’d “get my mate Bruno the Bobcat operator to dig a big hole in my backyard to use as a bunker during his presidency,” the rise of Australian senator Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, which likens itself to Trump and the Brexit movement, is worrisome.

Hanson, an outspoken far-right senator, caused a stir with her ultra-conservative views on immigration and multiculturalism.

She proved to be a highly controversial figure during her first stint in the House of Representatives from 1996-1998, often claiming that Australia was at risk of being “swamped by Asians.”

“Unlike One Nation, I believe immigration has been a tremendous net benefit to this country,” Xenophon said, adding that Hanson’s remarks 20 years ago were “wrong and offensive on so many levels.”

Former Federal Labor Party leader, Mark Latham, is concerned not only about the direction that One Nation is taking in the Australian electorate, but also a general trend of “identity politics” sweeping the nation.

He told Xinhua that Australia has “always suffered when we blindly follow United States military adventurism,” and are refusing to see what is before them.

“All they can see is identity, and it renders them useless on global policy,” Latham said.

Latham is closely watching what exactly the stance of the Trump administration would be and how it would react to the ongoing issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Australian federal government is allaying any concern however, with a spokesperson for Foreign Minister Julie Bishop telling Xinhua that Australia will work with the incoming Trump administration, whilst still engaging in its trade commitments.

“Australia has an alliance with the United States based on common interests and values and will work closely and constructively with the Donald Trump Administration across all areas. This includes offering our perspectives on strategic and economic opportunities and challenges that affect our interests in the Indo-Pacific,” the spokesperson said.

“We are strongly supportive of an open trading system and remain committed to the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). We will continue to champion the benefits of free trade for all economies.” Enditem

Source: Will Koulouris, Xinhua/

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