Labor lashes Morrison over US relationship

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a point of meeting with Labor leaders in 2019.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a point of meeting with Labor leaders in 2019.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has accused Scott Morrison of pandering to Donald Trump in an excoriation of the prime minister's management of US relations.

Mr Albanese believes Mr Morrison made the key errors of neglecting to meet with any senior Democrats and appearing at a political rally with Mr Trump during a trip to America.

"Scott Morrison went too far - partly out of his affinity with Donald Trump, partly because of the political constituency they share," he will say in a major foreign policy speech on Wednesday.

He contrasts the failure to meet Democrats, who will soon control the White House and Congress, with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meeting with senior Labor leaders in Australia.

In the virtual address to the Perth USAsia Centre, the Labor leader will reiterate his criticism of Mr Morrison for failing to join other conservative world leaders in condemning Mr Trump over the deadly Capitol riot.

"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," Mr Albanese will say.

"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."

Former Liberal foreign minister Julie Bishop said Mr Albanese's argument didn't add up.

"The US-Australia relationship transcends politics in both countries," she told ABC radio.

"Scott Morrison and his ministers will make any necessary pivot to the incoming administration."

Former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr said the opposition leader was on strong ground in calling for the prime minister to disown Liberal MPs spouting Trumpist conspiracies.

"When you overdo the pro-Trump position there are Democrats looking at you saying 'Gee, I thought our Australian mates were a bit more sensitive, a bit more nuanced'," he told Sky News.

Mr Carr expects the federal government to fall in line with a net zero emissions target by 2050 and drop a George Christensen-led parliamentary probe into corporate action on climate.

"There will be polite but firm pressure from the Biden team."

Mr Albanese says Labor's position on climate change aligns more closely with incoming president Joe Biden than the coalition's stance.

"Scott Morrison's stubborn resistance to joining the global consensus on climate change has led to his government now being totally isolated on the international stage - frozen in time while the world warms around them."

Mr Albanese is also critical of Mr Morrison's October 2019 "negative globalism" comment, pushing back against international institutions on climate and borders.

"Let's call this what it was: Mr Morrison pandering to president Trump and those who follow him in Australia."

He will also call for the US to have a greater presence in Southeast Asia.

Australian Associated Press