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Rudd praises PM for not ripping into Trump

AAP logoAAP 11/11/2016 Tracey Ferrier

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has praised Malcolm Turnbull for not indulging in public character assassinations of US President-elect Donald Trump.

Mr Rudd says Mr Turnbull, unlike other world leaders, has been suitably measured in his public statements about Mr Trump, and that will be good for bilateral relations.

He says the current prime minister's behaviour is in sharp contrast to John Howard's statements about Barack Obama before he was elected eight years ago.

"It's a key discipline of being a government leader and it's one Howard didn't follow when Obama was elected," Mr Rudd told ABC radio on Friday.

"Prior to Obama being elected, Howard said that if Obama was going to be president it would represent a victory for al-Qaeda."

Mr Rudd said Mr Howard's comments had made it difficult for the Obama administration "to take people like (Tony) Abbott and others seriously when they were following in Howard's wake".

"Howard grossly offended, and Turnbull, to give him some credit, has not.

"Turnbull has been effectively disciplined in not joining the international chorus line of government leaders ... ripping into the alternative president of the United States during an election campaign."

Mr Rudd wouldn't be drawn on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's pre-election assessment of Mr Trump as "barking mad".

"In terms of language from opposition leaders, I'll leave Bill to answer that one."

Mr Rudd said the potential for a trade war between China and the US under Trump would put Australia and the rest of the world on a very bump ride.

But he says Australia doesn't have to choose between Washington and Beijing.

"We should not allow it to enter into our national political consciousness that we have to make some sort of strategic choice between these two," he said.

"We don't want to be a doormat to the United States ... we want to preserve the broad framework of the (ANZUS) alliance, but there's nothing wrong at the same time with developing a very robust, balanced relationship with the Chinese."

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