TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop - Vice President Mike Pence Arrival - Cairns QLD
Press Doorstop Cairns Qld 16 November 2018
Subjects: Arrival in Cairns of US Vice President Mike Pence and Mrs Pence; bilateral discussions; trade
I welcome Vice President Pence on behalf of Australians but also on behalf of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Scott Morrison is at APEC and looking forward to the bilaterals that he is going to be conducting. In the morning I will be having a bilateral discussion with Mike Pence about trade and all the important things that are so relevant to both Australia and the United States of America. We have no greater friend that the USA, so it’s great to welcome the Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen here to Cairns. It’s a little bit warm. I’m not quite sure whether he’s used to it being this warm this time of year but it’s great to have him here and I’m looking forward to having a discussion with him in the morning.
Has the scale of this fanfare wowed even you?
I’m not quite sure we’re used to this sort of fanfare here in Australia. My wife Catherine and I have travelled here on a little four seater plane from Wagga Wagga so it was rather a different reception, but it’s great to have him here. He is the Vice President of the United States of America so there’s always going to be a large motorcade and there’s always going to be tight security, but it’s great to have him here is Australia. He will be flying backwards and forwards from Cairns, using it as a base from which to go to APEC, but it’s fantastic to have him here in Cairns. I’m sure the Cairns locals will appreciate the money being invested in their economy from just the logistics of having the Vice President here in sunny Queensland, in sunny Cairns.
Are you conscious of taking the attention away from Port Moresby? He’s here for security reasons. Is that in the back of your mind?
The security that he will have will be the same as he will have in Port Moresby. It’s just great for Queensland, showcasing one of these great States of Australia to the United States of America. So I’m sure he’ll go back to America and say: What a fantastic place Cairns is, what a great State Queensland is and some Americans should go out there and visit. Of course Hawaii is a great place and a great sunny island to visit but Americans should also realise that there are fantastic beaches and a friendly atmosphere here in Cairns and it’s great to showcase Cairns to the world.
You mentioned you will be having a chat on trade tomorrow morning; will the TPP be part of that conversation?
I will be having those discussions with the Vice President; I will be keeping those discussions with the Vice President, but we have good trade relations with the US; it’s one of our biggest trading partners but also we are competitors in the environment of the Asia-Pacific. America decided not to go on board with the TPP; that’s a matter for them, but the Trans Pacific Partnership 11 is a $13.3 trillion opportunity for Australia. We’ve grabbed it with both hands and we are making the most of it.
Won’t it be a bit of a controversial meeting given the tariffs the US has imposed on places like China?
The things which unite the USA and Australia are far greater than those which divide us. Trade is always important. We’ll be having those discussions. America’s defence relationship with Australia, particularly in the Top End, is so significant. They spend a considerable amount of money in Australia. We welcome them here. We welcome their Marines. I’ve been to Darwin when the Marines land; that’s a fantastic investment in the Northern Territory, in the Top End. Right up and down the Queensland coast there’s always operations going on with the US and our other allies. It’s a significant portion of what we do with our allies, with our friends. Mike Pence is one of those great friends and I will be looking forward to having those discussions him in the morning.