‘Too far’: Albo says PM pandered to Trump
Scott Morrison will have his "work cut out" to establish ties with the incoming Biden administration after pandering to Donald Trump's worst instincts, Anthony Albanese says.
In a speech to the Perth USAsia Centre, the Labor leader said Joe Biden's inauguration on Thursday would provide a chance to expand ties between Washington and Canberra.
But he warned Mr Morrison's cosy relationship with President Donald Trump had undermined Australia's ability to capitalise on the opportunity.
Mr Albanese said Mr Morrison had gone "too far" in seeking close ties with Mr Trump, "partly out of his affinity with Donald Trump, partly because of the political constituency they share".
Mr Trump has been accused of stoking a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol by falsely claiming voter fraud had undermined the November election.
Mr Albanese warned the attack demonstrated that, once unleashed, extremism was difficult to reign in.
He said the prime minister of had pandered to the Coalition's extremes for political gain.
"He remains afraid of the far-right extremist fringe dwellers who make up the bedrock of his personal support - and who he cultivates through the avatars of Trumpists and conspiracy theorists like Craig Kelly and George Christensen," he said.
"Mr Morrison wants to ride this tiger because he thinks he's on a political winner - but we have seen this month that the longer you ride it, the harder it is to dismount."
He framed the prime minister's use of the phrase "negative globalism" in a 2019 speech as an attempt to parrot Mr Trump's isolationism.
"Let's call this what it was: Mr Morrison pandering to President Trump and those who follow him in Australia," he said.
Mr Morrison has distanced himself from Mr Trump since the election, saying on Tuesday he had no plans to contact the outgoing President before Inauguration Day.
He has not contacted Mr Trump since before the election, instead calling US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
He has spoken warmly about Mr Biden, saying on Tuesday the incoming president would "join me in stewarding" relations between Canberra and Washington.
Mr Morrison also called for America to unite under Mr Biden's leadership after a "terrible few months" for the country.
But the prime minister has avoided explicitly condemning Mr Trump and previously enjoyed a close relationship with the President.
He faced criticism for appearing alongside Mr Trump at a campaign-style event in Ohio during a week-long trip to the US.
Australian leaders typically avoid partisan events while overseas.
Mr Morrison also became the first Australian prime minister in more than a decade to receive a Washington state dinner and was one of only three world leaders to receive a Legion of Merit from the President in December.
Mr Albanese accused the prime minister of short-sightedness by neglecting to meet with senior Democrats during the trip.
"We need long term vision, wise strategy and consistent advocacy of our national interests," he said.
"Scott Morrison will have his work cut out given his attendance at partisan events with Donald Trump and his failure to build any connections with the Democrats."
The Labor leader also reiterated his claim the Biden-Harris administration offered a unique chance to reset Australia's approach to climate change.
"An obvious starting point (in mending relations) would be for him to come to the table on climate change," Mr Albanese said.
"The Morrison government would have to explain the absurdity of its arguments about the alleged cost of achieving net zero emissions.
"To be increasingly isolated is an untenable position."
Originally published as 'Too far': Albo says PM pandered to Trump