Interview with Emily Bourke, ABC PM

  • Transcript E&OE
Subjects: Foreign Minister’s comments on the events at the US Capitol today.
07 January 2021

Emily Bourke: The Australian Foreign Affairs Minister is Marise Payne. I asked her if today’s actions amounted to a coup or attempted coup.

Marise Payne: No, I don’t think it’s either of those things, but it is violence that we absolutely condemn and are very disappointed to have seen. We condemn the use or the threat of violence anywhere to challenge the democratic processes. What I see, though, from the United States is the actions of a violent minority, and I'm confident that it won't impede the transfer of power.

Emily Bourke: Does it damage America's standing in the world?

Marise Payne: I think these things are always concerning, but a fair commentator, a fair assessor will always look at, I think, the full story in America's democratic history. And we've already seen the Congress resume their work, both the Republican and the Democratic leaders in both chambers condemning this violence and vowing to continue to do their work.

Emily Bourke: This is not just a handful of misguided individuals. It's not low-level mischief. It's being driven by powerful and effective misinformation. How can and should that be countered? Is it enough for President Trump's Twitter account to be suspended for 12 hours?

Marise Payne: Well, the countering of it, I think, is probably dealt with in the context of the change that will occur in the coming weeks. And we know that the Biden administration and President-elect will be inaugurated on 20 January. And that will be an important part of moving through this process, and I am confident that those democratic principles, those foundations, the robustness of those will see the United States through this.

Emily Bourke: But we have a couple more weeks before that transition. Given the volatility, given the President still controls the nuclear codes, are you concerned about global stability and security in these final days of the Trump presidency?

Marise Payne: I know that there are many members of the administration, many dedicated, serious and committed members of the administration who are servants of the United States, people who are strong adherents to those democratic principles of which I have spoken. We see the Vice President himself presiding over these proceedings currently underway in the Congress now. I know that the system is challenged, but I also have confidence, as I've said, that it is able to deal with these issues as the next two weeks unfold.

Emily Bourke: How concerned are you about rival superpowers, China, Russia? How concerned are you that they might exploit this moment?

Marise Payne: Well, any inappropriate behaviour in that context, of course, would be of great concern. And one of the things that we have seen in the context of COVID-19 in many, many places around the world is the use of disinformation and misinformation. And protecting democracy is an important part of being vigilant about these issues as well, and we'll continue to do that.

Emily Bourke: We're seeing international allies like the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, appealing to President Trump himself to accept the election result, to accept a peaceful transfer of power. What is Australia saying to President Trump?

Marise Payne: Well, both the Prime Minister and I have commented today on these developments, and we've made our position very clear on that indeed, as has most of the rest of the world, and the majority of political figures in the United States. What we've actually seen is the Electoral College, the States, the Congress, all the relevant institutions get on with the job of certifying that result and transitioning to a new administration. They are important steps that have been taken. We have watched those with interest. We continue to do so. And of course, we will work closely with the new incoming Biden administration as they take up their roles, subject of course to Senate confirmation and so on.

Emily Bourke: Do you think there's a case for the Vice President to remove Donald Trump using the 25th Amendment?

Marise Payne: As always, we will work with the US administration of the day to maintain and strengthen our alliance, which has long been a force for stability and for good in our region. But those matters are matters for the US system.

Emily Bourke: What advice do you have for Australians who might be living and travelling in the United States?

Marise Payne: We have today been updating our travel advice on Smart Traveller, and I would definitely encourage any Australians who are in the United States to check the latest advice in that context. As with any situation of protests around the world where we know that there are Australians, we urge Australians to follow the advice of local authorities and importantly to stay away from protest areas.

Emily Bourke: The Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne.

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