Topics: US-Australia alliance; Australia-China trade relationship; Joe Biden’s Clime Change policy
Simon Birmingham: Can I add my congratulations to President Elect Biden, and Kamala Harris on their historic win. As the father of two young daughters I particularly acknowledge the significance of seeing the first woman to hold the office of the Vice President of the United States. We know from long history, that the US-Australia alliance is a strong one, and that changes in administration here or there simply herald new chapters in that alliance that build upon the longstanding success of it. And we are confident that we will have a great relationship with the Biden Administration, and look forward to working with them from January 20 next year, but, of course, we’ll continue to do all that is necessary in our work with the Trump administration until that time.
Question: What’s your view on Donald Trump so far refusing to concede?
Simon Birmingham: Look, our focus is not on being political commentators, it’s on working with international governments, and that’s why we will keep working with the Trump Administration for as long as he is in Office. Then, when an inauguration of the new President takes place on January 20, we’ll get to business with the Biden Administration.
Question: Has the Morrison Government contacted Mr Trump?
Simon Birmingham: Not to my knowledge. We’ve made the same sort of public announcement, as indeed we have seen many other world leaders do in terms of congratulating President Elect Biden and Kamala Harris, and acknowledging that we’re all ready to get down to doing business with them.
Question: How will the Biden presidency influence our relationship with China?
Simon Birmingham: Well look, we welcome as always, and encourage the United States to be active participants across Indo-Pacific region, and the US has long been a force for good in terms of being a proponent of peace and prosperity and we share many values. Ultimately we hope to see an administration that is able to engage constructively, positively with countries right across the world, including between the world’s two largest economies – the United States and China. Australia has maintained a posture with our largest trading partner in China, our largest investment partner in the United States, of wanting to see an open commitment across the board, and to trade and investment flows – it’s why we continue our negotiations with China as part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which builds on our FTA, while equally we will welcome, if the US chooses to do so down the track, their re-engagement on the TPP.
Question: And just on China; the supposed import bans that China was going to place on Australian products, with the seven products – did they come to fruition on Friday?
Simon Birmingham: So what we’ve seen over the last few days through closer monitoring is that some trade volumes have still continued to flow. There are areas of problem and concern, such as the length of time it is taking for live lobster shipments to be tested, processed and cleared through Chinese customs, and we will continue to work at an administrative and diplomatic level to try to understand and resolve those points of concern. But, the types of rumors suggesting an outright blanket ban joined don’t, at this point in time, appear to have materialised and we continue to see certain shipments successfully being processed through Chinese customs.
Question: Just on the Biden Administration, Joe Biden has committed to net zero emissions by 2050. Should Australia?
Simon Birmingham: What Australia looks forward to doing is getting down to business with Joe Biden and his promises to invest more in technology as a solution to emissions reduction – that’s absolutely our focus, our policy, because we know that’s how we’ll get transformation of emissions, not just in Australia or the United States, but right across the world – Joe Biden has made that commitment. We remain resolutely committed to the Paris Agreement which President Trump withdrew the United States from. We welcome President Elect Biden’s commitment to the tenor of the Paris agreement, and we will certainly be working with them to ensure that is upheld.
Question: Do you think that the Biden Administration will be easier to deal with, from Australia’s perspective, than the Trump Administration?
Simon Birmingham: I think from Australian’s perspective we’ve had a good relationship with the Trump Administration, and I’m sure we’ll have a good relationship with the Biden Administration.
Question: How do you reflect on the last four years of Donald Trump’s presidency?
Simon Birmingham: I’ll let people write their own history books. We’ll still be working with the Trump Administration all the way through until January 20. Thanks, guys.