US Ambassador to Australia Insists Alliance Will Endure

US Ambassador to Australia Insists Alliance Will Endure
United States ambassador to Australia Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. (L) speaks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (R) about the ongoing bushfire efforts following the Australia Day citizenship ceremony at Lake Burley Griffin on January 26, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. (Rohan Thomson/Getty Images)

The US ambassador to Australia insists the alliance will endure no matter what happens in the presidential election.

Australian observers are turning their minds to the future shape of the relationship as American voters go to the polls in a contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

The result will have major implications for Australia and the world.

Arthur Culvahouse said regardless of the outcome, Republicans and Democrats shared a strong commitment towards Australia.

“The alliance between the United States and Australia will remain strong and vibrant and forward-leaning, regardless of the outcome of the election,” he told reporters in Canberra on Nov 3.

“The alliance never sleeps.”

The ambassador said US officials were focused on outreach efforts to improve attitudes towards the alliance, particularly among younger Australians.

Australia regularly finds itself entangled in tensions between the US and China as the two great powers do battle.

Culvahouse said there was widespread bipartisan agreement in the United States on the challenge presented by China.

“I see it continuing regardless of the outcome,” he said.

“Certainly if there is no change in administration, then the China policy will continue, and I doubt there will be many changes if there is a change.”

Biden has declared climate change the number one issue facing humanity and promised to pursue net zero carbon emissions, which would leave Australia even more exposed among its key international allies.

The ambassador played down the prospect of a big shift in direction under a change of administration.

He also vehemently defended the US response to coronavirus when asked what his country could learn from Australia.

More than 230,000 Americans have died from the virus and the country is recording 100,000 new cases each day.

Culvahouse said the Trump administration deserved more credit for its pandemic action and blamed the World Health Organisation for failing to the spread of the deadly disease.

While the institutional links between the US and Australia remain strong, the president’s thought bubbles and impulsive tweets have for years unnerved officials and politicians.

The ambassador stressed the difference between Trump’s tweets as “a form of political discourse” and actual US policy.

“It is part and parcel of the president’s self-professed role as a disruptor and it’s always interesting to read the tweets,” Culvahouse said.

US authorities are preparing for violent demonstrations after the election, with shop fronts and monuments being boarded up.

The ambassador said it was concerning but not unheard of in US history.

“We respect and honour and enshrine freedom of peaceful protest. Hopefully, there will not be a tip ... over to violent protest or unlawful activity,” he said.

“But I think it’s probably a good thing people are getting prepared.”

Daniel McCulloch in Canberra
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