Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer
(Australian Associated Press)
Former foreign minister Bob Carr described him as a “human molotov cocktail”, lobbing into the American electorate in spectacular style.
But Donald Trump will need to be taken much more seriously over the next four years as he seeks to redefine America’s place in the world and relations with allies like Australia.
If his victory speech words are anything to go by, President Trump will be quite different to maverick, erratic campaigner Trump.
“I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone,” he said.
“All people, and all other nations, we’ll seek common ground, not hostility – partnership, not conflict.”
If he lives up to these words some of his more off-the-wall election policies will have to go by the wayside.
Australia’s military alliance with the US is long-standing and vital not only for our national interest but the security of the region.
During the election, Trump talked up a greater focus on the Middle East and took a dim view to China’s growing interests in the South China Sea.
He flagged the renegotiation of “military deals” such as NATO and with South Korea.
Whether this translates into action remains to be seen, but the NATO threat would have dire consequences for global security.
The Trump trade manifesto is just as threatening.
He has spoken of China, Japan, Mexico and Brazil “taking our jobs like we are a bunch of babies”, and vowed to scrap trade deals.
However, he may be run over by reality when it comes to trying to renegotiate agreements which underpin America’s economy.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says she’s been reassured the 11-year-old US-Australia free trade agreement won’t be altered by a Trump administration.
Another area in which the Trump presidency could impact on Australia is his position on migration.
A less generous approach from the US to the world’s 65 million refugees could put pressure on Australia, just as the Turnbull government is seeking to bolster its own border security.
Anti-immigrant rhetoric is already a problem for Australia in the wake of Pauline Hanson’s warning of the country being “swamped by Muslims”.
Finally, if Trump’s view of climate change being “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive” becomes the policy of his administration there’s a real risk America could drop the ball on one of the most serious threats facing the planet.
It may be that the millions of jobs flowing from renewable energy and clean technology overrides such rhetoric.
But then again, it’s hard to guess how a molotov cocktail will go off.