'Many challenges': Scott Morrison phones Joe Biden after election win

Nick Whigham
·Assistant News Editor
·3-min read

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has contacted Joe Biden to congratulate him on winning the United States presidential election.

Mr Morrison called the president-elect from Canberra on Thursday morning, in a notable diplomatic move as President Trump continues to deny the reality of election loss and concede defeat.

“There are no greater friends and no greater allies than Australia and the US,” Mr Morrison said after the phone conversation.

“I look forward to strengthening even further our deep and enduring alliance, and to working with [Joe Biden] closely as we face the world's many challenges together.”

Scott Morrison released photos following the call. Source: Facebook/Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison released photos following the call. Source: Facebook/Scott Morrison

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr Morrison lauded the former vice president to Barack Obama for his deep understanding of international affairs and security issues facing the Australian and US alliance.

“This is a relationship that he understands very deeply, based on his broad experience over a long period of time, in the United States, and his engagement of course as vice president and his many other roles,” he said.

With the US expected to re-engage with international organisations and return to a more reliable foreign policy stance, Australian leaders are hopeful of an increased role from the United States in the Asia Pacific region as China continues to exert its influence.

“We agreed that there was no more critical time ... for the working together especially of like-minded countries and values that we hold and share, working together to promote peace and stability,” Mr Morrison said.

“Of course in the Indo-Pacific ridge and more broadly through the multilateral institutions and agencies.”

Joe Biden speaking at a lectern.
President-elect Joe Biden says his team will hit the ground running, regardless of an obstructionist incumbent. Source: Getty

Morrison acknowledges Trump’s election denial

The Prime Minister also acknowledged the messy situation in the US, with incumbent president Donald Trump refusing to accept the election result.

“Of course we respect the transition process that is under way, at least informally,” he said.

“When that formally commences, that is of course a matter for the US Administration.

“We will continue to work closely with the US administration working though protocols in the months ahead because there remain many issues on hand that we are dealing with with the United States administration.”

When prompted, Mr Morrison said he was “not concerned” about Trump’s obstinance and refusal to admit defeat.

“This is not the first transition, it happens from time to time and those procedures are well-established and the president-elect and I discussed that this morning,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the incoming US leader was keen to better understand Australia’s comparatively successful response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The President-elect was very interested in Australia's success here and what Australia could contribute from our lessons and our learnings [from] the way that we have managed the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic dimensions of that as well,” Mr Morrison said.

A handout from the Biden team said the pair discussed tackling Covid-19, climate change, the global economic recovery, strengthening democracy and maintaining a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

Mr Biden’s commitment to addressing global warming has increased pressure on the Australian government which continues to hold out on committing to net zero emissions by 2050. When asked, Mr Morrison said the precise issue was not raised during the call.

The Prime Minister had earlier flagged he would invite Mr Biden to visit Australia next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the ANZUS treaty.

Mr Biden also spoke with the leaders of Japan and South Korea. He is due to be inaugurated on January 20.

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