News Corp Australia

Turnbull not the only PM to cop it from a US president

MALCOLM Turnbull isn't the first Australian leader to cop an ear-bashing from the US President, with former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd revealing he also copped a gobful from the leader of the free world.

When asked in an interview on ABC TV's 7.30 about Mr Turnbull's testy phone call with Donald Trump last week, Rudd surprisingly sided with the Liberal leader, who last year declined to nominate him for Secretary-general of the United Nations.

"How can Australia deal with a President who is so undiplomatic and erratic?" 7.30 host Leigh Sales asked.

"Well, to be fair to Mr Turnbull, it was a tough old time but the bottom line is he is not Robinson Crusoe either," Mr Rudd said.

"Remember, I was dealing with George Bush at the time when I was about to say, 'George, terrific, we're about to pull our troops out of Iraq and your war stinks'".

"But George Bush is not Donald Trump," Ms Sales replied.

"Well, there were some harsh things then said privately too," Mr Rudd said.

"But I would ask that they return to the discussion and I would hope and ask that President Trump restores civility in his communications with a country which, after all, is one of America's two closest allies in the world."

Mr Rudd also took the opportunity to urge Mr Turnbull to look for alternatives other than 'clean coal' as Australia searches for a cohesive energy policy

"Actions in both domains (climate change and national energy security) are possible - these are not mutually irreconcilable tensions if you like or objectives in national policy," Mr Rudd said.

"I think there's four or five practical things you could look at.

"One is to provide certainty for markets in the future, energy markets, you do need a carbon price, point one.

"Otherwise, you have the market constantly guessing as to what the policy parameters are. That's why we've tried, unsuccessfully, as the Australian government, when I was in office, to bring in an emissions trading scheme Two, in addition to a carbon price, as a number of the people who you have just heard on the broadcast have indicated, we need to unleash domestic gas on to the domestic market.

"Australia is about to become, I think, the second-largest supplier of natural gas. LNG form, to the rest of the world. I think it's high time we provided this coal alternative to the domestic energy supply.

"I think number three is, despite what Malcolm Turnbull has been going on about today and previous days, clean coal - so-called - is not going to provide an effective substitute for gas in terms of long-term energy supply."

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