Morrison congratulates ‘great friend’ Biden on presidential win

November 8, 2020

Australian political leaders have rushed to congratulate Joe Biden on his presidential election win, with Scott Morrison saying he looked forward to working with the President-elect on COVID, economic recovery, and climate change.

Mr Biden has claimed victory in the American presidential contest, with projections from multiple media networks including CNN, Fox and AP that the Democrat will win the Electoral College count.

President Donald Trump has refused to concede, saying “this election is far from over” and flagging further court challenges on dubious and baseless claims of vote-rigging. In a tweet early on Sunday morning (AEDT), Mr Trump again falsely claimed “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!”

But congratulatory messages from world leaders have nonetheless been flowing in for Mr Biden. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison logged on just before 8am (AEDT), wishing Mr Biden and his vice president Kamala Harris “every success in office”.

Mr Morrison has kept out of the last few controversial days in the U.S. vote count, refusing to comment on Mr Trump’s increasingly inflammatory rhetoric.

The Australian PM is seen as one of few world leaders to have enjoyed a decent working relationship with Mr Trump, with the President calling Mr Morrison “the man of titanium” and holding a special state dinner in his honour at the White House.

Mr Morrison expanded on his tweet in a formal statement shortly after, calling Mr Biden “a great friend of Australia over many years”.

He said “American leadership is indispensable” to meeting these challenges facing the world such as the COVID pandemic, “a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and peace and stability”.

Mr Morrison and Mr Trump have been on good terms. Photo: AAP

“We also look forward to working with President-elect Biden and his Administration to continue to fight the COVID-19 global pandemic and recession, to develop a vaccine, drive a global economic recovery, and develop new technologies to reduce global emissions as we practically confront the challenge of climate change,” Mr Morrison said.

He added that Australia welcomed Mr Biden’s “commitment to multilateral institutions and strengthening democracies” – perhaps a pointed note, considering Mr Trump’s inherent opposition to international compacts like the Paris climate agreement, the United Nations, the World Health Organisation and others.

Mr Morrison said Australia would “continue to work closely with President Trump and his administration in the transition period” before Mr Biden takes office.

“On behalf of the Australian Government I also acknowledge and thank President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for their contribution to the Australia-US relationship,” he said.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese put “the challenge of climate change” at the centre of his congratulatory message to the President-elect.

Mr Biden had campaigned strongly on the issue of climate, promising to reinstall the USA into the Paris agreement on his first day in office, and committing the country to a net-zero emisisons target.

It’s expected Labor will use Mr Biden’s election to pressure the Coalition government into stronger climate targets.

Foreign minister Marise Payne also congratulated Mr Biden on Twitter, sharing Mr Morrison’s tweet.

But a less diplomatic message came from a former PM. Malcolm Turnbull, the target of Mr Trump’s ire in an infamous phone call over refugee policy in 2016, called the Democratic win “a relief”.

“It’s a relief to have a return to normal transmission, to have an administration that is going to be consistent,” Mr Turnbull said on the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday.

“That isn’t going to be making decisions by wild Tweets in the early hours of the morning, that isn’t going to be walking out of global treaties and alliances, discombobulating friends and foes alike.”

Australian ambassador the United States, Arthur Sinodinos, said he was confident of “a good working relationship” with the Biden administration.

“Many of the senior players were around in the Obama years and so many of us here and also back in Australia have good relationships with them,” Mr Sinodinos said on Insiders.

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