Pacific News Minute: Mixed Asia Pacific Reaction To Australian Election Results

May 22, 2019

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (right) arrives at last year's G20 summit in Argentina.
Credit G20 Argentina / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

President Trump was among the first to congratulate Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison after his surprise re-election on Sunday. After what was described as an extensive conversation, the President added a tweet. China’s reaction was decidedly less enthusiastic.

An editorial in China’s state-owned Global Times took a dim view of the ruling coalition’s re-election. It said, “China-Australia relations, which have deteriorated in recent years, will continue to have uncertain prospects.”

The editorial added that success for the opposition Labour party might have brought some positive results but “no matter which party is in power, Australia’s next government still has a long way to go if they want to repair China-Australia relations.”

Since his victory, Prime Minister Morrison’s congratulatory callers included Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of Papua New Guinea.

Frank Bainimarama, the Prime Minister of Fiji, posted his congratulations on social media. Like many Pacific leaders, Bainimarama has been critical of Australia’s stance on climate change and its continued reliance on coal in particular. In his post, he called on Prime Minister Morrison to reconsider that policy.

Bitter disappointment was reported in the Australian-run detention camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea where about 850 people believed that a Labour victory might mean deliverance. Iranian born journalist Behrouz Boochani reported a spike in suicide attempts in the facility where he’s held on PNG’s Manus Island.

“I have never seen Manus like this,” he told RNZ Pacific. “The problem is that no one is able to help others because everyone has lost their hope.”