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Shorten says Trump not the problem for US

AAP logoAAP 16/09/2016

Donald Trump is not the problem - the problem is that people believe he's the solution.

That's the conclusion of Bill Shorten as he visits Canada and the United States to meet with political leaders.

He says people have lost faith in mainstream politics, which they feel has failed them - and that's not confined to the US.

In an address to the Centre for Security and International Studies Global Leaders Forum in Washington, the federal opposition leader said he wasn't there to wade into the US presidential contest.

He said he had criticised Trump in the past and rejected his ideas for building walls, filling jails and for the US to retreat to an isolationist foreign policy.

"But Donald Trump in himself is not the problem. The problem is, people believe he is the solution," he said.

Exclusion, disillusionment and marginalisation were maladies affecting every democracy, he said.

"And they are ripe for exploitation by extremists in every guise," he said.

After years of playing by the rules, ordinary Australians and Americans believe the deck is now stacked against them.

Mr Shorten said in this more uncertain world, it was easy to appeal to a sense of nostalgia and practice the politics of prejudice, to scapegoat a convenient minority.

"And it is easy for fundamentalists and preachers of hate to hold out the false promise of certainty and power to young people who feel marginalised," he said.

Mr Shorten said inequality and alienation were not just domestic threats to political stability but also to regional and global security.

He said there were things Australia and the US could learn from each other.

"It is important for Australia to look at how the Americans have handled the vexed issue of foreign donations. Because I firmly believe Australia should be banning donations from overseas," he said.

Mr Shorten met with Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau, with whom he discussed inclusive growth and ensuring economic change works for everyone.

He also met with New York mayor Bill de Blasio and German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.

In Washington he is set to meet with IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, Australia's ambassador Joe Hockey and presidential adviser on Asia, Dan Kritenbrink.

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