AUSTRALIA needs America like never before with a belligerent North Korea and our small tax base ensuring we can’t afford to not partner them on land, sea and outer space, Defence Minister Marise Payne has said.
Responding to the “considerable” public disquiet about the alliance in the wake of the election of Donald Trump and his well-publicised apparent Down Under dismissiveness, Senator Payne said it was time the public joined the American bandwagon and valued our partnership.
US-Australian relations have been strained since the infamous cut-short telephone call between Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over the refugee resettlement issue earlier this year.
In a spirited address to the Sydney Institute think tank almost solely about the US relationship, Senator Payne said the alliance was beyond personality politics.
“Australia does not base our strategic planning or our national security objectives on mere personality politics,” she said.
“Not our personality politics; nor the personality politics of others. If some in Australia found the US election result a surprise, Australia’s ‘democratic churn’ following the 2007 election probably had a few people in Washington scratching their heads too. But as I said, the alliance is not based along party lines or our respective leaders.”
Senator Payne told the Sydney Institute, famously accused in parliament by former Labor leader Mark Latham as being funded by US intelligence agencies, that now was not the time to break the alliance forged over many wars in the past almost 100 years.
“We have enormous challenges; we must protect ourselves and our interests while drawing on a relatively small taxpayer base, while defying the tyranny of distance,” she said.
“We cannot prosper alone, and we cannot secure ourselves alone. We need unimpeded maritime and air trade routes; and we need to contribute to, and benefit from, collective security, collective action, and a global rules-based…