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Politics with Michelle Grattan: Kim Beazley on Kevin Rudd, being an ambassador, and a possible second Trump presidency

Politics with Michelle Grattan: Kim Beazley on Kevin Rudd, being an ambassador, and a possible second Trump presidency

Kim Beazley, a former Labor leader, served as Australia’s ambassador in Washington between 2010 and 2016. He is widely respected for his expertise in foreign and defence policy.

In this podcast episode, Beazley discusses the brouhaha over Donald Trump’s denigrating comments about Kevin Rudd, the present Australian ambassador in Washington. We also canvass wider alliance issues and the recent visit to Australia by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who included a meeting with Paul Keating among his engagements.

On Kevin Rudd’s future, Beazley says:

I have hopes that he could serve under a second term of President Trump – if there is a second term, which I also hope does not occur. I think you’ve got to remember, ambassadors don’t see much of presidents. We do when we’re accompanying the Australian prime minister somewhere. But aside from that, we see people [in] much more lowly positions than presidents.

On why AUKUS is so important to Australia now:

Back in the 80s, we had a very different perspective. We had the capacity to basically defend ourselves with some of the equipment provided by the Americans and with their intelligence […] We now find ourselves in a situation where we can’t really defend ourselves without the United States assisting. […] It is just totally vital to us now. I don’t think that those of us who were in politics in the 80s have really caught up with that.

On China, Beazley says Australia walks the tightrope:

We’re trying to keep a situation where nothing goes wrong. […] We wish the Chinese well – absolutely. But there are lines in the sand that you have to draw in all these things.

Beazley was Labor leader during Anthony Albanese’s first years in parliament. He says of the man who became PM:

He’s always been a pragmatist. That’s the first point. The second point is when you get to the position that he is in, you understand that the survival of Australia is not guaranteed, that the changing circumstances around us are not necessarily in Australia’s favour.

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