PM should be a Washington regular: report
Malcolm Turnbull should visit Donald Trump and senior members of the US Congress at least once a year.
That’s the advice in a new report from the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney released on Tuesday.
The blueprint for how governments should deal with the Trump administration stresses the need for personal engagement with key stakeholders.
While the prime minister and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop still have major summits such as UN leaders’ week, APEC and ASEAN later this year, the report’s author thinks the pair should visit Washington again before the end of 2017.
“For Australian political leaders, there is no substitute for a busy program of meetings in Washington.” Dougal Robinson writes, citing Kevin Rudd’s two visits in 2009 in the first year of the Obama presidency.
Instead of dealing with the State Department, leaders should reach out to Congress, cabinet secretaries and key White House advisers.
They include figures such as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and senior adviser Jared Kushner.
The report, labelled ‘Make it personal: Trump, Congress and Australia’s avenues of influence’, also recommends all political leaders visiting Washington hold meetings with the Friends of Australia Congressional Caucus.
The caucus was established in 2003 to assist the congressional passage of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement.
It was reconvened by Ambassador Joe Hockey after the famous frank Trump-Turnbull phone call earlier this year.
Mr Turnbull met Mr Trump face-to-face in New York during the Battle of the Coral Sea commemorations in May.
He again saw the president in Germany during the G20 summit when he and wife Lucy were offered a ride in his car, known as ‘The Beast’.