Australia reacts: Anthony Albanese ‘wishes the US well’ as Penny Wong says she’s open to meeting Trump

The Nightly
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Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has reacted to Donald Trump’s guilty verdict. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has reacted to Donald Trump’s guilty verdict. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images) Credit: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

Australia’s political leaders have vowed to maintain the relationship with the United States regardless of who is elected president in the wake of Donald Trump’s criminal conviction just months out from a bitterly contested poll.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he had no doubt the news would be “the global story of the day” but it was inappropriate for him to comment on the case.

“We’re not a party to this court proceedings. So we regard that as a matter for the United States and their system, as we regard the election of the US president to be a matter for the people of the United States as well,” he said.

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“We would probably object to a New Zealand prime minister or a US president, or a German chancellor, or a French president, telling us how we should conduct our political system and I have no intention of telling the United States.”

He noted his close personal relationship with current president Joe Biden, but said the US-Australia alliance was a relationship between countries not individuals.

“I wish the United States well. They’re an important relationship that we have,” he said.

The sentiment was echoed by cabinet ministers and senior Opposition figures.

Senior Albanese frontbencher Jason Clare describing it as “the biggest news in the world that’s happening right now”.

“We haven’t seen anything like this before,” Mr Clare said on Sunrise.

Despite his conviction, Foreign Minister Penny Wong left open the option of meeting Mr Trump if she visits the United States ahead of the November election.

“I will always seek to engage with both sides of politics appropriately and if I go to the United States, that would be something I take advice on,” Senator Wong said on Friday.

“Our relationship goes beyond partisan politics and it always has.”

Senator Wong said she did not wish to comment directly on the guilty verdict for Trump.

“You wouldn’t expect the foreign minister of Australia to engage in commentary about legal processes on another country including our most important strategic partner and ally and I won’t,” she said.

“The United States of America is our most important strategic partner. We have a relationship that goes back decades and an alliance which is enduring.

“We have a friendship and we have very strong relationship across people and institutions and that will continue.”

As Trump decried the “rigged” trial, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the former president will likely use the verdict to rev-up the Republican base ahead of the “exciting” US November election.

Explaining that Trump was “despised” in New York where the jury trial was held, Mr Dutton said the verdict would further divide America.

“If you look back to 2016, he won no electoral votes in New York. He’s despised there,” Mr Dutton said on breakfast television.

“There’s obviously two tribes here and the one tribe who detest him and hate him. And you saw some of the emotion in some of the interviews, just then.

“And the other tribe, love him and adore him, and for different reasons on both sides. And all it will do is reinforce the views on both of those camps, but obviously it will make for an even more exciting election, I suppose, in November.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 30: Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower on May 30, 2024 in New York City.  The former president was found guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first of his criminal cases to go to trial. Trump has now become the first former U.S. president to be convicted of felony crimes.(Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after being found guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Credit: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Senior figures from both sides of politics said the verdict and any influence it has on domestic US politics will not impact the country’s close relationship with Australia.

Speaking on Sunrise in the moments after the verdict was handed down, Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley said: “The relationship we have with the US is more important and bigger than any one individual, any one leader or any one government”.

NDIS Minister Bill Shorten said that the Australia/US alliance would endure regardless of who won the presidential election.

“The American political system will throw up who they’ve got to throw up,” Mr Shorten told Today.

“I think governments of both sides in Australia will deal with whoever the American political system elects. I think the alliance is stronger than the personalities.”

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