With Americans braced for civil unrest on election eve, the Australian Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, has warned that democratic processes should be respected in the looming presidential vote in the US.
Albanese did not criticise Donald Trump explicitly and he said the outcome of the election between the Republican incumbent and the former vice-president Joe Biden was “in the hands of the American people”.
But with Trump intensifying demands for the vote count in the battleground state of Pennsylvania to end on election night in a tweet that foreshadowed “violence on the streets”, the Australian Labor leader said no leader should undermine democratic values.
“I say this, that democratic processes should be respected,” Albanese said on Tuesday in Australia. “Our partnership between the United States is an alliance between our peoples based upon our common democratic values, and I am concerned of any questioning that occurs about democratic values and democratic processes.
“They are precious. They should not be undermined by any leader, and I await the result tomorrow.”
Albanese’s warning was echoed by the shadow treasurer, Jim Chalmers, who told reporters the responsibility of leaders of all political persuasion was “to boost trust and confidence in our democracies, not diminish that trust and confidence”.
“The whole world is watching what’s happening in the United States,” Chalmers said.
Trump’s tweet was flagged by the social media platform shortly after it was posted, which prevents the comments being retweeted.
Albanese said the outcome of the US election had significant implications for Australia, and would have “implications for the world when it comes to the vital challenge of tackling climate change”.
Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement is due to take effect the day after the election. Biden – who enters election day leading in the polls – has promised to bring the US back into the Paris agreement and sign the country up to a net-zero emissions pledge by 2050, with an enforcement mechanism.
Biden’s climate change policy says if he is elected, the incoming administration will “use every tool of American foreign policy to push the rest of the world to raise their ambitions alongside the United States”, including imposing carbon adjustment fees or quotas on carbon-intensive goods from countries that are failing to meet their climate and environmental obligations.
The US ambassador to Australia, Arthur Culvahouse Jr, told reporters in Canberra he doubted there would be many changes to the US policy towards China if Biden won the election, noting that Biden was part of the administration that articulated the pivot to Asia.
Culvahouse told reporters this morning he believed there was now widespread agreement in the US about the challenge presented by China – but he was at pains to say this was not a reflection on its citizens.
“I want to be clear I’m talking about the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist party, not the people of China.”
Albanese responded to that by saying when it came to the China relationship, “Australia will continue to stand up for Australian values – that’s what we do on issues like human rights”.
“We should also, though, recognise that we have an economic relationship with China that is very important.”
Culvahouse said when it came to America’s record on climate change, the US “should be given more credit than some people give it” on its reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector.
The ambassador was asked by a reporter whether he expected the US would once again taking a leadership role on climate if there were a change in administration.
Culvahouse said he was not sure he agreed with the premise of the question – that the US was not showing a leadership role – and he pointed to US government data indicating America’s energy-related CO2 emissions had fallen by 14% since 2005 at the same time as the economy has grown by about 19%.
“I really don’t want to speak for what might happen come January 20 if there’s a change in administration, but I do think that the United States should be given more credit than some people give it,” the ambassador said.